The dance-based form of exercise called Zumba is a bona-fide fitness sensation! 15 million people attend Zumba classes every week, at over 200,000 locations spread out over 185 countries, making it the largest fitness brand in the world!

Insanely enough, the craze started with a simple mistake. When dancer and fitness instructor Alberto Perez forgot to bring his usual music to an aerobics class, he had to make do with salsa and merengue tapes instead, and was then inspired to incorporate elements of those dance forms into the groups' workout. Thus Zumba was born!

Perez moved to Miami in 2001. There, he brought Zumba to the public's awareness with a series of infomercials, and the brand gradually grew into the fitness staple it is today. Part of the reason it attracted so much attention may just be because it's so much fun!

Zumba incorporates elements of various dance styles to create a workout that efficiently burns calories but remains both accessible and low-impact. This way, anyone can join in the Zumba-mania regardless of their experience level, which it makes attractive to a demographic that might otherwise remain sedentary—though even a hardcore gym buff might also enjoy the occasional Zumba class as a break from their regular fitness grind!

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One study suggested that a minute of Zumba will burn about 9.5 calories, meaning that a one hour class will rid you of about 570 of them! Since it is a cardio exercise, Zumba can also help increase heart health and endurance. Studies have shown that Zumba programs both increased aerobic fitness in overweight participants and lowered their triglyceride and blood pressure levels. As a bonus, it also increased their pain threshold!

Other studies also suggest that Zumba can also have psychological benefits, increasing participants' perception of their autonomy, physical strength, and even their sense of having a purpose in life. Like other forms of exercise, Zumba can help foster stress relief by encouraging the release of mood-boosting endorphins, but Zumba may have additional feel-good benefits because of its welcoming and jovial atmosphere.

Participants often say that it feels more like a dance party than a workout, or that they find the practice so enjoyable they forget they're exercising at all! Other Zumba-goers have reported that the program helped distract them from problems and made them happier, and there are even some devotees who say Zumba helped them get off depression medication or credit it with saving their lives!

Zumba moves like squats and twists can also help increase and preserve range of motion and improve coordination. This is especially important for older exercisers as it may help them avoid life-altering injuries as they age, while younger Zumba-goers may just enjoy learning some cool new dance tricks to try out at the club.

Zumba was also shown to increase core and trunk strength in a study done on female college students, which could be a big weight loss win since having more muscle mass promotes a higher metabolic rate. However, since Zumba tends to focus on the core, legs, and glutes rather than arms and back, may want to supplement with other forms of strength training if you're going for an all-around toned look.

Yet Zumba may actually help you here too; a Zumba spinoff called "STRONG by Zumba" combines HIIT principles and intense bodyweight exercises with the upbeat Zumba soundtrack its fans have come to know. Other Zumba variations include “Zumbatonic,” geared towards children, "Zumba Gold," geared towards seniors, and even "Aqua Zumba" water aerobics!

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While you may still want to be careful about jumping into Zumba if you have certain injuries or health conditions, for most of us, there's no reason not to give it a whirl!

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