Why You Should Consider Making Zumba Your Next Workout

Say goodbye to cumbersome workouts, and say hello to a possible new favorite: Zumba. Zumba is nothing new to the fitness world, but it's as wildly popular as ever. 

With its Latin roots, fun music, and motivating atmosphere, Zumba blends traditional aerobic exercise with saucy dance moves that build coordination, move your entire body, and give you a reason to smile during your workouts (via NPR). Zumba's CEO and co-founder, Alberto Perlman, told CNBC that his inspiration for Zumba came when he began seeing a popular aerobics dance class get sold out and noticed how many people seemed to genuinely enjoy the workout.

According to 2022 data from Zippia, over 90% of Zumba instructors are women, and there are more than 3,500 Zumba instructors across the United States. Zumba states that over 12 million people from more than 125 countries participate in Zumba classes today, proving that this particular workout is likely here to stay for a while. Not sure if it's right for you? Keep reading to find out why you should at least give Zumba a try.

Zumba is an incredible full-body workout

Zumba really emphasizes the fun part of working out to encourage people to stick with it and enjoy what they're doing. But there's no denying that Zumba also offers an incredible workout that targets multiple body parts, potentially leading to weight loss and better overall health.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's Department of Exercise and Sport Science (via ACE Fitness) found that Zumba can burn a whopping 369 calories per class, or approximately 9.5 calories per minute. Additionally, the researchers found that cardio endurance measurements aligned with industry standards for recommended fitness levels.

Research also suggests that Zumba could improve overall health in women who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes (via the American Journal of Health Behavior). Additionally, a study published in IOPScience found that Zumba significantly reduced body weight and fat in participants at a similar level as traditional aerobic exercise.

You might feel less stressed

For many, exercise in general can be an excellent stress reliever. While exercising your body, you pump up your metabolism, send your body on an exhilarating journey, and stimulate your brain, which may counteract feelings of depression and anxiety (via Harvard Health Publishing).

However, if you don't thoroughly enjoy your workout activity, you may not gain the same stress-reducing benefits from it. When you need a mood boost, try a round of Zumba. Research published in the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences found that Zumba can release endorphins in the brain, which help manage stress. Additionally, the study's participants overwhelmingly noted decreased stress levels after completing a Zumba class.

Perhaps that's why many colleges and universities are incorporating Zumba programs into their extracurriculars. The American Institute of Stress notes high stress and anxiety among college students, with about 61% of them seeking counseling for stress-related problems. Saint Vincent is one school with a dedicated Zumba program for students, operating twice weekly in the evenings. Iowa State also offers Zumba four times a week, including weekends, allowing students to participate when it's most convenient for them.

You can literally do it anywhere

Whether you don't have a lot of time to visit the gym or you prefer working out in the comfort of your own home, office, or even backyard, Zumba can be extremely accommodating. Zumba has both in-person and virtual classes, along with social Zumba events that get large groups of people together in a central location for a good-vibes workout. There are even Zumba classes you can do in a pool, known as Aqua Zumba, so there's no excuse not to be able to find the perfect place to get an effective workout in (via Zumba).

SportsRec also notes that the Zumba Fitness company offers an app for your smartphone, video games, and DVD systems to help you get into the Zumba groove wherever you feel comfortable doing so.

If you have a YMCA nearby, you can also check there for convenient classes for all age groups. Many YMCAs offer Zumba classes for kids and adults, and others schedule Groove Together group classes comparable to Zumba (via YMCA).

It might be the most enjoyable workout you've ever done

We've said that Zumba is a fun workout, but if you're still not convinced that it's something you'll actually get excited to do, take it from the many Zumba participants that share their experiences all over the internet. 

For example, as of January 2023, Zumba has a 4.8 rating out of 5 on Trustpilot, based on the input of more than 5,900 reviewers. One reviewer says, "I learned so much but also had a lot of fun and met new people! Everyone in my group put themselves outside of their comfort zone, and they made the experience 10x better." Influenster reviewers also rate their Zumba experiences highly, giving Zumba Fitness 4.6 out of 5 stars, with several reviews mentioning the fun and exciting atmosphere of Zumba classes.

People on Reddit also talk about Zumba in various fitness and weight loss subreddits. One Redditor states, "The classes I go to are fast moving, fun, and I sweat as much as if I were running," while another commenter says on a different thread, "I walk out drenched in sweat and so happy because it doesn't feel like exercise (aka BORING) to me." So, even if you find most types of exercise boring or not your cup of tea, Zumba could end up being just the kind of workout to change your attitude toward fitness.

It tones muscles while getting your heart pumping

Dance workouts like Zumba are known more for their cardio benefits than their muscle toning and strengthening benefits. After all, research suggests that Zumba can decrease blood pressure, which is good news for those at risk of cardiovascular disease (via the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care). However, Zumba could actually lead to a fitter, more muscular body in addition to a healthier heart.

For example, WebMD notes that Zumba strengthens the core because of the nature of its dance moves, which rely heavily on the movement of the midsection's muscles. As a whole-body exercise, Zumba also uses a lot of leg and arm movements, meaning that you can strengthen those key areas along with the glutes every time you move and groove to the music. Different types of Zumba classes also incorporate more ways to work in strength training. For example, Zumba in the Circuit blends dance with circuit training, while Zumba Toning uses strength-building toning sticks to add resistance and give your muscles more to work for during each class (via Zumba).

You might improve your quality of life

A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health explored whether dance fitness classes like Zumba could improve quality of life scores in working women with sedentary lifestyles. The study assigned the women to either a Zumba class group or a dance fitness and functional strength training group for 16 weeks. After the study period, the researchers assessed the women's quality of life based on several factors, including physical and emotional health, social function, and pain. The group participating in Zumba has significant increases in several quality of life areas, most notably vitality, physical role, and mental health.

One Zumba enthusiast even says that Zumba was pivotal for her life. Iresha Picot writes in an article for Elephant Journal that she quickly became "hooked" on Zumba classes, adding that the workout transformed her life. "I used to hide myself. Ever since I can imagine existing, someone, somewhere, had something to say about me. I was too dark, too fat, too something. In Zumba, I put all of those things front and center."

Some research points to Zumba's potential brain-boosting benefits

According to research published in Preventative Medicine, exercise can be just as important for your brain as it is for your physical health. The study found that people older than 45 years old with self-reported cognitive decline symptoms may benefit from increasing their physical activity, which proved to have positive impacts on decreasing memory loss, confusion, and other relevant symptoms. Harvard Health Publishing explains that people who exercise regularly may have larger sections of the brain that control memory and thinking. Additionally, the physical processes that exercise initiates, like reducing inflammation and encouraging new brain cell growth, can improve how the brain works overall.

Research published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias specifically explored the impact of Zumba on the brain. After six months of twice-weekly Zumba classes, the researchers found a notable improvement in working memory and response inhibition in participants, indicating that Zumba could, indeed, have some brain-boosting benefits.

Zumba classes can give you the motivation you need to keep going

Want to know one of the most common reasons people stop working out? According to The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), it's because they get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. But, SCAI says that joining a social workout — hello, Zumba! — could be the answer to overcoming the obstacle. When you get social with exercise, you have other people around who can keep you motivated and reignite that spark you once had.

An NBC News article states that the positive effects of social exercise have been evident in the rising number of group exercise classes over the years, like spin cycling and CrossFit. Personal trainer Rob McGillivray explains, "I believe it to be a key indicator that working out in a motivational pack or using it as a tool to enhance internal or external competitive performance is fast becoming the preferred form of exercise."

When weather chief for KEN5 News Bill Taylor tested out a local Zumba class for an on-air segment, he said the support he received was incredibly encouraging. "I really enjoy the motivation of a group, the accountability of a group," says Taylor. "You can't just quit!"

You don't have to be an expert

If you feel nervous about joining a Zumba class for the first time, don't. This workout is designed around people like you who are complete beginners to the world of Zumba. In fact, Zumba dedicates a section of its website to beginners with quick, easy-to-follow videos that can catch you up to speed and make you feel prepared for your first class.

However, there's absolutely no reason to feel like you need to know anything about Zumba before you join in. According to PIES Fitness Yoga Studio, places that host Zumba classes typically note what level the class is and what ages it targets. Still, no matter what, the studio insists that zero experience in dance is required, and the main goal is simply to be open to learning and progressing.

In a Quora thread, commenters also assure the original poster that Zumba is perfect for people of all fitness levels. "It really has little to do with proper dance training and more to do with cardio. It's just a fun way to do cardio to music," says one commenter. Another commenter adds that Zumba is very "low stress since you don't have to execute anything by yourself."