There is no denying it - Zumba is a great workout. Burning 700-1000 calories an hour, while making you feel like you're in a dance club instead of the gym, the reason for the popularity is obvious. But if you've never tried it before, making it through that first Zumba class can be a little daunting. You look at the commercial and it looks so fast. Everyone looks spectacular... and sweaty. But once you get the full Zumba Experience, you realize it's not about perfect moves, graceful coordination, or breath control. It's about having fun, doing something good for your body, and just letting loose. Go ahead and pant as much as you want!
No matter what your attitude is, sometimes that first Zumba class is a little overwhelming. So here are my top 10 tips for surviving your first Zumba experience:
1. Good Shoes & Comfy Clothes
Start with the right workout gear. Fancy designer clothes are not required, but the right shoes are. Your feet will take a lot of impact, so make sure your shoes have good support, fit properly, and have a smooth sole. If you have too much traction and no lateral movement, you'll likely tear up your knee or worse. Look for sneakers that are labeled for dance fitness to be sure you have something with the proper traction.
2. Stay Out of the Back Row
Your first inclination may be to go in the back. If you're like me, you want to stay out of the way and make sure no one is watching you. But many of the songs rotate, and if you start in the back, you'll soon find yourself in the front. Yikes! Not to mention, if it's a big class, you'll have a very hard time seeing the instructor. If the front of the pack is too daunting for you, go in the middle. At least that way you have people all around you. It will be easy to hide, and when the moves turn you around, you'll still have someone in front of you to follow when you can't see the instructor.
3. Keep Space Around Yourself
Don't park yourself too close to someone else. Zumba moves go in all directions and sometimes require your arms to go out to the sides, etc. You don't want to accidentally punch someone out or infringe on their personal dance space. Being too close is a recipe for injuries, so keep a little distance around you on all sides.
4. Water & Sweat Go Hand in Hand
You will sweat. A lot. No doubt about it. So be sure to bring plenty of water. It is very important to keep yourself hydrated to prevent injuries or other issues. It will also help to flush out all those toxins you just stirred up.
5. No One Is Watching You!!
Stop worrying about what everyone thinks. Trust me, no one is paying any attention to your moves (or coordination challenges - whichever the situation may be). Everyone is completely caught up in their own worlds trying to keep up and picturing themselves as the latest, greatest, sexiest dance star. So don't be afraid to go for it 100% - no one will laugh (except maybe you!).
6. Don't Stress About the Footwork
Zumba moves fast and there is usually very little to no instruction on the choreography ahead of time. That's because exact, technically perfect dance moves are not the point. Keeping your body moving, is. If your feet are not quite right at first, don't give up. Keep moving. That's what really counts. You'll get it eventually!
7. Use Your Arms
Sometimes arm movements feel goofy. Or just too much to concentrate on when you're still trying to get your feet in the right place. But try to keep moving your arms as much as you can, since the added movement is what really torches the calories and tones your whole body (no weights required!).
8. Wiggle Your Hips & Just Keep Moving
Not sure what the heck the instructor is doing? Just keep moving. And wiggle your hips as much as possible. Many of the moves are Latin based, so hips are key! Every wiggle also requires you to use your core so you're giving yourself a constant ab workout, while continuously burning calories.
9. Breathe & Be Smart
Sometimes it seems easier to just hold your breath, close your eyes, and pray you make it through. However, you want to make sure you breathe through each song. The more oxygen you get, the better your body can perform. And be smart! Only go to your own current physical level. Yes, you always want to push yourself if you're ever going to see any results. But don't push yourself beyond what your body can currently do. You don't have to completely match your instructor, or the girl next to you. If it's too much, take a step back. After you do it for a while, you'll get to that level. You just don't want to hurt yourself in the meantime!
10. Feel the Z-Love
There is something about the Zumba community that is very empowering. I'm not sure what it is, but there's a natural support system, therapy session, stress relief - everything good you can think of all rolled into a 1 hour class. Feel the music, the support, and confidence in the room just wash over you. Have fun. Laugh. Let your true and wonderful self shine. Enjoy doing something great for yourself. Your body will thank you!
For more info about Zumba or to find a class near you: www.zumba.com