Zumba | What is Zumba? Everything You Need To Know

Want to know the benefits of Zumba? The history behind Zumba or where to find a Zumba class in the UK? We have the answers...

Zumba is a fun, high-intensity cardiovascular workout involving a mixture of traditional Latin dance, such as salsa and mambo, as well as martial arts, belly dancing and water aerobics.

Zumba has exploded in popularity over the last few years in the UK, so what is this craze and why has it become so universally popular?

Officially arriving on the fitness scene in the US in 1999, Zumba actually first originated in the 80’s in Columbia. After turning up at an aerobics class in Columbia without his traditional music, instructor Alberto Perez founded Zumba by accident, by substituting his traditional aerobics music for Latin music. The class was an instant success and from this the trademark Zumba ® was born to Perez, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion in 2001.

By 2007, Zumba had spread to 6 continents and established credibility with fitness icons across America. In fact the Latin inspired workout is reportedly performed by over 12 million people in 125 countries around the world.

The word Zumba actually means ‘fast moving’ and when fused with the word ‘rumba’ simply means fast moving party. A party that typically burns an impressive 500-1000 calories an hour.

Regular Zumba classes are available throughout the UK.

What is Zumba?

The Zumba Costa Blanca school describes Zumba as a program that “fuses hypnotic Latin Rythms and easy to follow moves to create a one-of-a-kind fitness program.”

The class is made up of small dance routines featuring interval training, where a mixture of fast and slow rhythms are used to tone and burn fat. Don’t be put off if you have two left feet or zero coordination as the sessions encourage a range of ages and abilities with simple steps that are regularly repeated.

A Zumba class normally lasts between 50 minutes to an hour and both classes and video (DVD) sessions are available. Due to such success, in 2008 Zumba fitness launched their third DVD collection, adding toning sticks and Zumba LIVE workout. This means that you don’t even need to leave your living room to get in a calorie burning work out. It is great for increasing fitness levels, relieving stress and hardly even feels like exercise. 

Trained instructors have also created their own follow me style videos that you can find online and follow at home.

If you are into home workouts and are interested in Zumba, then you should check out some other online videos such as those teaching Yoga and Pilates.

Types of classes

Over the past few years, Zumba has expanded to incorporate a range of different takes on the original class, targeting children as young as 3 with their Zumbni sessions.

Some other of popular classes include:

Zumba Toning Classes- work by incorporating extra resistance using Zumba toning sticks or light weights, which work by engaging specific muscle groups including arms, core and lower body.

Zumba Gold- is based around the original moves used in Zumba but at a lower intensity, perfect for older adults and focuses on balance and coordination.

Zumba Step- focuses on strengthening the legs and bum and increases cardio and calorie burning.

Aqua Zumba- is a lower impact aquatic exercise based in a pool, using natural water resistance to help tone muscles. The benefit of this is the reduced impact on your joints in the water, unlike other sports such as running which can have high impact on knee and hip joints.

Zumba is great for overall fitness and has many health benefits.


Music is at the heart of Zumba. It’s used to create a positive atmosphere, with high-energy beats that blend Latin music with hip-hop. Colombian dance music, Cumbia, incorporates accordions, percussion and guitars and is another popular accompaniment to Zumba classes. 

YouTube videos containing a whole 50-minute class worth of music are available with a simple internet search and even Spotify and ITunes have playlists designated to Zumba music, making it easy to complete at home or with friends.  


A dance top and jazz pants are recommended for Zumba however anything comfortable and easy to move in will work.

Zumba have their own range of fitness clothing, consisting of patterned leggings, harem jogger pants and an array of brightly coloured vest tops. Supportive trainers are also important to help cushion the impact of the routines on your ankles and knees.

Zumba also has a range of DVD and video workouts.

Where to go in the UK

Zumba classes are available up and down the UK and classes are usually around £5 a time depending on the location.

10 sessions are recommended initially to produce positive results and offer better value for money. However the fun thing about Zumba is that you can pick and choose when to attend a class to fit around your schedule, as there is no joining fee or commitment.

Zumba uses a mixture of Latin and hip-hop music.

Where to go in London

There are lots of different Zumba classes in London for all budgets and timetables.

Zumba London offers 30 days of unlimited classes for £25 with no commitment. Class locations are dotted all around London, including Waterloo, Urdang Dance Academy and Class Base only 2 minutes from Barbican tube station. The classes run all through the evening during the week and start from 9.30am on a Saturday.

There are also regular Zumba events held in London such as the Zumbathon Charity Event taking place on 19th March 5.00pm-7.00pm. International Zj Rotem Shmilo is running the workout at St. Michaels Catholic School in London and proceeds from the event will be donated to the Leukemia Care Foundation.

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