Thinking of joining STRONG by Zumba®, the unique high intensity interval training class where the music is synced to the workout? Here are my top six tips to get you started!
1. You need the right kit. I’m not talking about branded clothing. I mean a decent pair of trainers, stretchy clothing in which you won’t overheat, and for the ladies, a high support sports bra.
You want a pair of cross trainers that grip well on a hard floor, with cushioning and some flexibility in the sole. Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, you may also wear fingerless gloves, to protect your hands as you press up and burpee. Also, make sure you arrive well-hydrated, and bring a bottle of water to keep you going during the class.
Looks are secondary. Nobody else is going to mind what you are wearing.
2. It’s not a competition. Well, not against anyone else in the room. STRONG by Zumba® is an intense workout, but modifications are included at every step to either make the class more accessible to beginners, or challenge the fittest of participants.
Before starting a new exercise programme, it’s wise to check with your doctor whether it’s suitable for you, particularly if you have any ongoing health conditions.
3. Pay attention to the technique cues. These help you to exercise safely and effectively. If something doesn’t feel right - ask! We move quickly from one move to the next, so there is little time for refining technique in the middle of the class. However, don’t be shy of asking about a particular move before or after class - your instructor is passionate about good form and will love the opportunity to coach you to move better.
4. It’s not a dance workout. Zumba may be famous as a dance party workout to amazing global music, but this is different. There is no hip-wiggling or arm lines; the exercises would be familiar in a circuit training class (think squats, burpees, kicks) but the music is still as awesome as you’d expect from Zumba, and will motivate you to work harder and help you fall in love with the class.
5. It might hurt. But not in a bad way. You may feel your muscles burning during class, or becoming stiff over the next couple of days. This is a normal response to hard exercise - and it’s up to you whether you push it to that level (see tip #2). However, any pain that lasts more than a few days, or is in the joints, rather than in the muscles, is not part of the plan. In this case, don’t suffer in silence; it can often be resolved by improving your technique, or occasionally it may need checking out by your physio.
6. You will burn lots of calories! This the magic of the music. In controlled experiments measuring the calories burned by participants doing the same workout either with or without the STRONG by Zumba® music, those working to the music burned an average of 48 calories more per session. On top of that, due to a phenomenon called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which occurs after high intensity interval training, you will continue burning more calories than at rest - about twice as many, in fact - for about 40 minutes after the class finishes.
I teach STRONG by Zumba® on Monday and Tuesday evenings - contact me to book!
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Fitness and Pilates instructor with a passion for science.