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What is Zumba® Fitness: Ditch the Workout and Join the Party

Updated on January 12, 2021
StephanieBCrosby profile image

Stephanie Bradberry is an educator herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She loves all things natural and the beauty of nature.

Zumba fitness logo
Zumba fitness logo

Zumba® fitness is one of the hottest ways to get in shape and have fun. The slogan says it all: Ditch the workout…Join the Party! It was originally created by Alberto “Beto” Perez, but soon grew into a business with the help of two more Albertos—Perlman and Aghion. The Zumba® fitness program is so popular because it offers something much different than Jazzercise and similar fitness programs that incorporate music and getting fit. For one, Zumba® fitness is a brand. This means there is copyrighted music, apparel, games for three consoles, and more. Another distinguishing feature is ZINTM—the Zumba® Instructor Network. Zumba® fitness does not throw its instructors to the wolves. Instead, for a professional fee, instructors, both new and established, received new music and choreography and a whole website chock full of benefits. But let’s keep our focus on what Zumba® fitness is. The official description is: “It’s an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™ that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012).

Note Well

Zumba® Fitness has made a lot of updates to their programs. For example there is now Step and Zumbatomic® is now Zumba® Kids and Zumba® Kids Jr. There are many new updates since the last update of this article. So visiting their website is the best way to stay up-to-date on offerings.

Basic 1 logo
Basic 1 logo

Zumba® Fitness

The regular or basic Zumba® is the most common. But what most non-Zumba instructors do not know is that there are two types of basic Zumba®: Basic 1 and Basic 2. Basic 1 includes four basic rhythms—merengue, salsa, cumbia, and reggaeton. These are the rhythms that most classes will contain. But here is where things get tricky.

Basic 2 logo
Basic 2 logo

Basic 2 can be a class, but there is no distinction when you go to a class if it is Basic 1 or Basic 2. The difference is really on the instructor’s end. We (instructors) can take additional training(s) to teach classes that will incorporate the rhythms covered in basic 2, which are belly dance, flamenco, tango, and samba. But even this becomes complicated. I have not taken Basic 2, but have learned some belly dance, tango, and samba through the specialty trainings of Zumbatomic® and Zumba Gold®. So, I often include some moves in a song, even if the song is labeled as electroflow, salsaton, axe, et cetera. Of course there are also instructors that know these additional rhythms because of their nationality or ethnicity and need no training at all to officially incorporate them into their choreography.

Gold® logo
Gold® logo

Zumba Gold®

Zumba Gold® was developed to meet the needs of a big segment of society, Baby Boomers. However, this class is not just for the active older adult. It is also good for those who are just starting to work for the first time, after a long hiatus from fitness, or if they are recuperating from surgery or something similar. All the moves are modified to meet the needs of the active older adult, or the aforementioned. But everything else stays the same: the time frame for a class, the party, and the sweating. As my instructor/trainer for Zumba Gold® told me, “Zumba Gold® does not mean Zumba® old. And this has to be the biggest misconception. When I do my chair rountine (see next paragraph), the participants will say every now and then that they want more and want to do the “stand up version.” So I have done a few demonstrations for those really wanting to see what Zumba Gold® is like. Whenever I do a demonstration, I never hear complaints again!

Within the Zumba Gold® program the instructor can also offer a chair routine. Often instructors offer a free 30 minutes or more of routines modified for use of a chair for participants that may use walkers or cannot stand for long periods of time. This is not to be confused with the newest chair program, Zumba Sentao™. The Zumba Gold® chair routine is all based on the active older adult sitting in the chair and doing modified routines. They still have a party and use the same prompts as my regular Zumba® classes like flags.

Toning logo
Toning logo

Zumba® Toning

Zumba® Toning is an awesome combination of body-sculpting and cardio to burn even more calories and work on strength-training. “Students learn how to use lightweight, maraca-like Toning Sticks to enhance rhythm and tone all their target zones, including arms, abs, glutes and thighs.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012). I do not teach Zumba® Toning, but have experiences segments of it by taking my sister’s class. I say segments because even though my sister has the certification, she does not do a whole toning class yet. Instead she includes one toning song in her basic class. And let me tell you, even though it is fun, it will kick your butt, literally!

Gold-Toning logo
Gold-Toning logo

Zumba® Gold-Toning

Zumba® Gold-Toning program combines the obvious, Zumba Gold® and Zumba® Toning. This means the participants get the benefit of fun, modified routines tailored for the active older adult and safe and effective strength training. The routines are easy to follow, which is great for those new to Zumba® fitness or either of the programs, Gold® or Toning. “Through dynamic lightweight resistance training and exciting international rhythms, Zumba Gold-Toning classes help participants build muscle strength, increase bone density, and improve mobility, posture and coordination.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012).

Aqua logo
Aqua logo

Aqua Zumba®

Aqua Zumba® is affectionately called the Zumba®"pool party." Aqua Zumba® gets the participants “Splashing, stretching, twisting, even shouting, laughing, hooting and hollering…during an Aqua Zumba class.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012). This class combines “the Zumba formula and philosophy with traditional aqua fitness disciplines…into a safe, challenging, water-based workout that’s cardio-conditioning, body-toning, and most of all, exhilarating beyond belief.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012). Like toning, this is not a class I have taken. However, my sister does have this certification too and will start sessions too. According to her, Angel Turner, this class is harder on the instructor who must maintain a lot of balance and do the movements in slow motion—which feels like regular pace for the participants in the water. No, the instructor is not in the water. Otherwise, it would be hard for the class to see the moves.

Have You Taken a Zumba(r) Class?

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Zumbatomic® logo
Zumbatomic® logo


Zumbatomic® is a lot of fun. Obviously I am older than 12-years-old. But I do teach Zumbatomic®. Zumbatomic® meets the needs of for kids ages 4-12. There are actually two programs within Zumbatomic®: Lil’ Starz and Big Starz. Ages 4-7 are considered Lil’ Starz. Ages 8-12 are considered Big Starz. Zumbatomic® provides kid-friendly routines to go along with songs based on hip-hop, reggaeton, cumbia, and all the other rhythms. A Zumbatomic® class is high-energy and fun, but is unlike regular classes because the kids get to play a game, take water breaks, and get rewards!

In the Circuit logo
In the Circuit logo

Zumba® in the Circuit

Zumba® in the Circuit is a program offered at gyms and similar fitness facilities. However, Zumba® in the Circuit is mostly offered at Curves locations because the program was initially developed with the insight of Curves. Unlike other classes, Zumba® in the Circuit is only 30 minutes in length. But there is a reason. A lot is accomplished in that timeframe. It is a combination of circuit training, strength exercises, and Zumba® choreography. These three aspects are done in timed intervals. From what I hear, people have so much fun with the Zumba® choreography segment they do not want to get back on the machines. So, if you are looking to burn a lot of calories while having fun and have a tight schedule, Zumba® in the Circuit is for you.

Sentao® logo
Sentao® logo

Zumba SentaoTM

This is the newest program offered by Zumba® fitness. Zumba Sentao™ takes the basic principles of the fitness-party and “partners it with explosive, chair-based choreography to strengthen, balance and stabilize your core, and step up your cardio work in a whole new way.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012). This class will help participants “learn how to use [their] own body weight to enhance muscle strength, improve definition and endurance, and tone [their] physique.” (Zumba Fitness, LLC, 2012). My trainer/instructor, Ali, for Gold® and Zumbatomic® is what is known as a ZES (Zumba Educational Specialist)—a Zumba® instructor that is really, really good and trains all over the world, and conducts classes at Zumba® conferences and the like. I mention all this to say that Ali told us, her little protégés, that Zumba Sentao™ is really hard and especially engages your core and upper body. Trainings are not available to instructors yet, and therefore class offerings are extremely limited.

Mini Workout

Not sure if Zumba fitness is for you? Try this mini workout in the comfort of your own home. Be sure to consult your primary physician before doing any strenuous activity. Make sure you do a cool down and stay hydrated!


Sample Routine

About the Author

Stephanie Bradberry is a freelance writer and editor. She is an educator, herbalist, naturopath and energy healer who runs her own home-based business, Stephanie J. Bradberry, LLC. She is also the creator of the Bradberry® line of handmade, all natural, herbal products. She is a former Zumba® Fitness instructor.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Stephanie Bradberry


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