Zumba is one of the hottest trends in fitness classes, and the fast-paced dance workout paired with Latin music is not only fun to do, it also comes with a ton of health benefits. According to the American Council on Exercise, Zumba is a highly effective form of aerobic exercise that can result in improved heart health and reduced risk for illness and disease. The hip movements that Zumba is known for also translate to increased core strength and overall flexibility. A more recent variation of the craze is water Zumba, which offers a low-impact workout at the same calorie-blasting pace as traditional Zumba, but with the added resistance of water.
Things You'll Need
- Aqua dumbbells (optional)
Start your water Zumba workout with a 10-minute warm-up to get your blood pumping and loosen your muscles. Begin by walking the perimeter of the pool, then increase your speed to a jog. Alternate this with cross-country ski moves to ramp up your warm-up just a bit more. Keep in mind that the water will offer plenty of resistance, so it’s not about seeing how fast you can go. Halfway through the warm-up, switch directions so you are going against the current you just created.
Head toward the deep end and alternate different types of running in your water-based Zumba workout. Vary the length of your stride and your speed to simulate land activities, like power walking and running up or downhill. Start with a four foot stride, which is the equivalent to a power walk. Keep your toes pointed down and move your legs from the hips. Reduce your stride to 3 feet to mimic running on flat land, then down to 2 feet for some uphill running. For downhill running, try 1-foot flutter kicks.
Intersperse running movements with exercises like jumping jacks and front kicks, which will work your muscles in other ways and give you a more well-rounded workout. Work your arms by extending one to the side and bending it at a 90-degree angle. Keep your fingers pointed down and swing your arm away and back to your torso, which will target your triceps. Add in a set of aqua dumbbells for even more of a challenge, and you can use these during your aqua runs or with jumping jacks and other moves.
Add dance-inspired moves to your routine too, since that’s what Zumba is all about. Don’t worry if you can’t dance -- the water will slow everyone down and no one will be able to see you anyway! Try some salsa or merengue moves, with lots of torso and hip action. You can even incorporate these dance movements into your running and other exercises.
Cool down at the end of the water Zumba workout with less intense movements, like jogging or walking the perimeter of the pool.
- American Council on Exercise: Zumba Fitness: Sure It’s Fun But Is it Effective?
- American Council on Exercise: What Can I Expect in an Aqua Zumba® Class?
- HuffPost Healthy Living: Aqua Zumba: Latin-Inspired Dance Workout Hits The Pool
- The New York Times: Making Waves With Zumba
- Fitness: I Tried It: Aqua Zumba
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images