The Zumba phenomenon began 10 years ago when Colombian aerobics instructor Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez turned up to teach a class, only to discover he’d forgotten his music. But Beto turned his lemons into lemonade by grabbing some local salsa and merengue tunes from his car and voila: Zumba has become the Tae-Bo of the late noughties. There are now thousands of instructors around the world, all of whom have trained in the ‘art’ by attending a one- or two-day workshop.
For my first taste of this Latin workout I conga down to Dubai Marina to learn Zumba at the slick Core Studio from English instructor Katie. I have to say, the hour flies by. We start with some basic moves for a bit of conditioning, then pace out some salsa and reggatron steps (which basically involve swaying in a squat position) before finishing with a routine. The routine incorporates salsa three-steps, a spot of shimmying and some twirling. Despite my two left feet, I manage to pick up the simple routine, and I notice near the end of the class that I’ve been smiling for about 20 minutes. Smiling while working out? No wonder Beto is now a millionaire – this stuff’s like catnip.
So how demanding is the workout? I do break out in a sweat and I feel energised by the end, although I’m sceptical of the claim that Zumba burns 500-plus calories an hour as I don’t feel any muscle strain afterwards. Having said that, I’m still a beginner; more confident Zumba-ists are likely to jump around more and dip deeper, giving their muscles a harder workout.
Zumba classes are held throughout the week at Core Studio in the Damac Waves Tower, Dubai Marina. Monthly memberships at the studio cost Dhs300; joining fee is Dhs200. See www.coredirection.com for more info.
The detailsOrigin: Colombia/Miami.
Calories burned: The official Zumba website (www.zumba.com) claims you’ll burn 600 to 1,000 per hour, although we’re a little sceptical.
Muscles worked: Glutes and legs (plus your abs, if you work your hips hard enough).
The benefits: Zumba routines feature a mix of fast and slow rhythms to provide interval training and an all-round cardio workout, plus resistance moves to tone the body while also burning fat.
Perfect for: People who get bored working out at the gym.