The Jumbled Origins of Zumba Will Have You Burning 350-650 Calories An Hour!
Health wellness

The Jumbled Origins of Zumba Will Have You Burning 350-650 Calories An Hour!


So, we bet you thought Zumba was an old traditional type of dance. What if we told you it’s not? That Zumba was actually going to be called Rumba, but the name was already trademarked. The brand got its iconic “Z” as the result of two men sitting in Starbucks going through the alphabet until they found a letter to replace the “r” in rumba. Voila, Zumba became a sensation. The crazy thing is you don’t really comprehend how big of a movement Zumba is until you read into the company's history. 

Does Zumba Work? 

9.5 calories per minute are the average caloric-burn during a Zumba class. The American Council on Exercise commissioned the study with the Wisconsin-La Crosse Department of Exercise and Sport Science. Based on their findings, you could burn around 570 calories in an hour-long class going at the full intensity the entire time.


It’s more accurate to say you’ll burn around 350-650 calories

I remember the first time I heard about Zumba, I must have been in middle school. There was a Zumba club in the strip mall next to Krogers. Then there were the Zumba classes at the YMCA. They were everywhere and I thought the women looked absolutely insane, liberated for sure, but dance fitness was very intimidating to me when I was younger. Anything with too many people in unison can be intimidating. But Zumba was meant to be accessible, a cheap gateway to fitness, fun, and health. 

The stylized dancing borders on cultural appropriation, but for some reason, it doesn’t come across that way. Many people think the name itself is of African origin, not dreamed up in a coffee shop. But it is heavily influenced by Latin and afro-Caribbean dance. In fact, if you didn’t know Zumba produces its own music, and a lot of the recording artists are Latin-American, like Shakira, Pitbull, and Daddy Yankee. Some songs go as far as to be exclusive to Zumba classes before they hit popular streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple music. Crazy. 

Did you know in 2017, Zumba had more locations than Mcdonalds, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts combined? This is insane because I’ve seen hundreds of commercials for all three of those popular chains and literally zero for Zumba. They pride themselves on spreading through word-of-mouth. There are around 15 million people worldwide who are fanatic-fans of the popular dance fitness classes. 


When Will I See Results With Zumba? 

If you want to jump on the bandwagon you can expect to see results in about 2-3 weeks if you take two classes a week. It’s cardio plain and simple though, so don’t expect to “out-run” a bad diet. To see those results you’ll need to get sleep, eat well, and workout with intention. 

But what kind of dance is Zumba? Turns out it began as jumbled up stylized Latin-dancing. Npr quotes an instructor saying, “you never start on the right foot in Salsa, but for the purposes of a fitness aerobics class you need to work both legs, you start on the right foot sometimes.[...] You can end up in a jumping jack.” 

The best way to summarize it is to say that Zumba is inspired by dance from around the world. They will use any dance that inspires you to move, and a lot of times that’s going back to traditional styles of dance. Zumba classes now incorporate dance styles like belly dancing and traditional Punjabi folk dancing.


The story of how Zumba even became a thing, pretty much summarizes it's half-hazardous approach to cultural-dance and fitness. NPR says this, “The story of Zumba begins with an accident that seems too good to be true. Back in the '90s in Colombia, dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez was teaching an aerobics class, and he forgot his regular music. So he reached into his backpack and pulled out tapes of salsa and merengue.” 


How To Start Zumba-ing!

Of course in the socially-distanced world, we live in today, you may be excited to know you can join a live-stream class. The US site offers virtual classes broken down into eight categories.

  • The original Zumba virtual classes are for a total body workout and anyone can join.
  • Zumba Gold is for active older adults.
  • Zumba Toning teaches you rhythm and coordination while targeting certain body zones.
  • Zumba Sentao is all about that core work.
  • Zumba Gold Toning is for older adults who want to focus on muscle conditioning.
  • Finally, Aqua Zumba, if you have access to a pool, is all about energy without the impact.

They offer two other virtual courses geared toward the kiddos, so if you want to get the whole family involved, there’s a class for that!

As always, live your life. Diet and exercise should not feel like a chore. We love sharing with you new things to try out, so anything seems possible!