Since Zumba was founded in 2001, the fitness company has become a worldwide sensation. These fun, fitness-without-sacrifice classes have drawn over 14 million people in 185 countries and 140,000 locations, catapulting the company to 800 percent growth in the past three years alone—a fact that earned it Inc. Magazine’s designation as the 2012 Fitness Company of the Year.
Zumba is offered at roughly 95 percent of the major gyms in the U.S. plus legions of smaller, independent fitness centers such as IU Health Sports Performance, where you can take a class five times a week. To understand Zumba’s popularity, start with its name, which rhymes with the Cuban dance that inspired it—rumba. Loosely translated, the Spanish word “rumba” means party.
“I think one of the most amazing benefits of Zumba are the connections people make,” said Kimberly Hastings, a certified instructor at IU Health Sports Performance. While other fitness classes have a serious tone, Hastings says Zumba classes create a fun, lighthearted atmosphere where people are happy, open and encouraging toward each other.
“That turns out to be a really great support system when it comes to attending class regularly and being accountable for exercise,” she says. Hastings encourages the social element in her thrice-a-week classes, organizing after-class gatherings where students get acquainted over dinner.
Electrifying joy and emotional benefits aren’t the only draw for Zumba loyalists. In an average class, Hastings says students torch 300 to 600 calories depending on their age and fitness level. That’s because of Zumba’s interval training aspect, which varies the intensity of the workout, causing heart rates to rise and fall —a cardio strategy that lends itself to weight loss.
In our next post, we’ll share Hastings’ tips for people who are considering Zumba for the first time.