Zumba: Who knew losing weight could be fun?

Published: June 30, 2013
Email

The typical lifestyle of a typical Pakistani housewife is, in one word, sedentary. Our movements are limited to settling into air conditioned cars and hovering about our servants’ heads as we tell them how to do all the work. So, what do we do as we begin to see size-zero heroines and start worrying that our waists are beginning to attain their own zip codes?

You walk into a Zumba class.

I went in with a friend, moderately confused and totally self conscious. What was I going to do? How was I going to lose weight? Would I walk out feeling ten pounds lighter or would I feel like a complete fool?

My trainer, Samina Naz, began doing some light exercise-like steps and a group of us girls followed. Pretty soon we were following her into quick movements and while I was sweating bullets, I realised I was having fun. The music was catchy, the steps were quick and fun and one of my closest friends was dancing away with me. How bad could it be, right?

I was surprised at how fit and healthy I began feeling as the weeks progressed. I actually began missing the days I wasn’t Zumba-ing for an hour!

The inspiring woman that pushes us all into shape is Samina Naz. She has been running her successful fitness studio in Karachi for years and is a certified trainer and Zumba instructor. She has been teaching Aerobics, Pilates and Zumba after having received training/licenses from Thailand and the United States. Samina inspires lazy bums such as yours truly to not let themselves go and instead stay fit, active and live a healthy lifestyle. She tells me about what Zumba is and how it helps.

What is Zumba?

Zumba is a Latin inspired dance-fitness class that is now being practised in over a 100 countries with over two million weekly participants. Based on the principle of interval training – alternating high intensity and lower intensity exercise, it works for both beginners and advanced exercisers. The changes in intensity are driven by the different rhythms of the music and steps – without the negative effects of high impact aerobics.

How does it help?

You will fit ‘fun’ into a busy schedule, reduce stress, burn fat, smile for an entire hour, maintain a healthy weight, build endurance and coordination, tone every major muscle of your body, increase circulation and flexibility, strengthen your heart and lungs and gain confidence. What better way is there to burn calories?

How do you do it?

We start with a warm up of about 12-15 minutes, then move through eight to ten routines which vary in intensity and style – Merengue, Salsa, Reggaeton, Cumbia, Quebradita, Calypso, even a little belly dancing and hip hop! Sometime we also add a bit of our local music to the international beats and steps. Zumba blends traditional dance steps with basic fitness moves so everyone can participate. We finish with standing abdominal work and then a cool down and stretch to bring the heart rate down and relax the muscles.

Is it fun / relaxing?

The Zumba program is the most effective, innovative, and exciting workout designed for everyone. They say it is “exercise in disguise” – participants have so much fun that they do not realise they are exercising.

How long does it take to see results?

Finding a form of exercise that you want to stick with can mean the difference between success and failure. With Zumba, how fast you lose weight depends on how much you put into your workout, how often you dance and the diet you follow along with your exercise plan. It also depends on your energy and intensity level. Thousands of people have lost weight doing Zumba, but consistent and energetic participation is very important. If you work out about five to six times a week for an hour each time, you may see results in about six to eight weeks.

How does Zumba help in weight loss?

The weight loss which results from doing Zumba workouts depends on you. How much effort you put into your workout, how long your workouts last and how often you workout all determine the rate at which you will lose weight. A 150lb woman who does not change her eating habits, but dances at a moderate-intensity for 60 minutes four times per week, could burn about 400 calories per hour and will lose about one lb every three weeks. The same number of workouts will take a 200-lb woman only about two weeks to lose the same one lb of weight at 540 calories per hour.

Samina also helps in busting some myths about Zumba:

Myth: What exercise? Zumba is a dance form like salsa.

Fact: Zumba is a dance inspired fitness form. It includes rhythms from across the world with international artist like Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Lil John and the likes creating music just for us. Zumba is inspired from salsa, merengur, cumbai, reggateon, flamenco, tango, belly dance and the flavours are simplified and made easy to follow so that anyone can do it.

Myth: All the pictures show fit and ripped people doing it. It is only for fit people!

Fact: Zumba is for everyone and by anyone, regardless of age (anyone above 12!) or gender. You don’t have to worry about pulls and aches because a licensed instructor can show you modifications before the class to make every move either low impact or high so that it suits every age and fitness level.

Myth: Isn’t it just jumping around? Anyone can teach it.

Fact: A big NO. Only licensed instructors are qualified to teach Zumba. They are taught by Zumba Education Specialists and are a part of a Zumba Instructor Network wherein they are regularly updated with continuous learning material keeping their classes fresh and safe. A lot of people in Pakistan are teaching Zumba without certification, which is illegal.

Myth: So it’s basically just Zumba. No variations.

Fact: There are many varieties/forms of Zumba available:

Zumba Gold: For active older adults

Aqua Zumba: For those suffering from joint, tissues, knees or back pain.

Zumbatomic: For kids between 4- 12 years of age.

Zumbini: A recently introduced variation for mothers and babies.

So there you have it, everyone. Find a certified fitness instructor for Zumba and actually enjoy the weight loss! Its fun, it’s for every person in every age group- so you’re left with no excuses! And if you do it like you ought to, you might stop and think before you have your next plate of biryani!

PHOTOS: MAHWASH BADAR

Read more by Mahwash here or follow her on Twitter @MahwashB

Mahwash.Badar.

Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.