My latest fitness love affair is Zumba, the hip-wriggling Latin-inspired dance class that seems to be sweeping the world with a swiftness that swine flu would envy.
Alas with my kickboxing schedule I can only make one Zumba class per week, so I'd been stalking these Zumba DVDs for months. I decided not to buy them as my workout DVD collection is out of control… but then I got an email out of the blue from the Zumba PR person asking if I wanted to try them. Maybe they had hidden cameras in my room and caught my longing gaze?
I spent the next SEVEN WEEKS trying to decide whether or not to sell out*. Gareth cackled at the gradual crumbling of my lofty ideals. Finally I caved and said, "DUDE. Surely after 9.5 years of blogging I can get a little something?".
Yes folks, turns out I can be bought for the low price of £39.98 plus postage and packaging – a.k.a. the Zumba Fitness® DVD Kit. It contained:
- Zumba Fitness® Basics
- Zumba Fitness® Cardio Party
- Zumba Fitness® 20-Minute Express
- Zumba Fitness® Sculpt & Tone
- Zumba Fitness® Total Body Transformation Guide
- Two Zumba Fitness® Toning Sticks
- Zumba Fitness® LIVE! Workout
At first I thought Zumba was a poor man's BodyJam class, but it has grown on me. Most of all because it is very inclusive. There is a genuine feel of "anybody can join this party". In my Saturday class everyone laughs and grins the whole way through. There are people of all shapes and sizes and ages. There is no posing. There is no demand for perfection. In fact there's not even much in the way of instruction – you just kinda bumble along and find your own style and let the music move you.
There is, however, a nerdy part of me that wants to do things correctly. How exactly am I meant to shake my hips? Where are my feet supposed to be? WTF Salsa?
The Zumba Fitness® Basics DVD has quenched that thirst for knowledge. It's an hour long and goes through all the basic Zumba moves, breaking each one down into three stages. You start out basically moving your feet to get the rhythm then they add on the trickier bits. LOVE.
Then you move on to the Zumba Fitness® Cardio Party, an hour long session. If you go to classes you'll recognise all the tunes. The best thing about this DVD is that if you forget how to do a move, there's an option to pause the workout and pop up a little reminder sequence from the Basics DVD. Very handy.
Zumba Fitness® 20-Minute Express is a good cardio workout if you're pressed for time. Zumba Fitness® Sculpt & Tone is great fun – a simple total body strength workout with serious rhythm. I felt like a twit using the Toning Sticks – they're bright green and you shake them like maracas! I just could not get coordinated… doing a bicep curl and shaking my hips at the same time!? But after a few attempts I got the hang of it and now like to shake my butt like I'm in a trashy music video. I can feel my muscles getting a workout when I concentrate and really put my all into it, but I think I could upgrade to some dumbbells in place of the Toning Sticks to get a more intense workout. Then again dumbbells don't make maraca noises!
I didn't really look at the Zumba Fitness® Total Body Transformation Guide beyond a quick flick – it's basically a booklet with a workout plan to help you incorporate all the DVDs. There's a total beginners plan and a more advanced one. There's meal plans and some recipes and has a generally upbeat and not bossy diety tone.
My favourite DVD is probably the Zumba Fitness® LIVE! Workout because it's a live class. The crowd has svelte ladies in little outfits, old ladies, little kid and a few token blokes who seem to be going the wrong way – it captures the all-inclusive, hyper party, bordering on cult-like atmosphere of a real Zumba class. It has the best energy of all the DVDs so I seem to get the most intense workout out of this one.
Requirements: A good pair of trainers. A fluid pair of hips. And not a huge amount of space – you mostly travel side to side movement rather than forward/back so I'm doing it in a patch of living room about three metres wide (let me measure and get back to you!).
- I can see me geting a little bored with the music as it's the same tunes from the class and some of the DVDs have the same tunes as each other. But will live with that for the novelty of being able to do Zumba in my own home.
- The female instructors are lovely and their instructions are pretty clear. However I cannot stop looking at their abs. Honestly, there is one woman with this gorgeous curly hair and the most amazing stomach and I spend half the workout shouting at the telly "How can you exist? How do you DO that with your hips?". I should hate her but I just want to audition to be her adoring and slightly pathetic sidekick. She's very distracting.
- beginners looking for FUN cardio – but you need to be patient while you learn the steps. You have to let go of perfection and just enjoy the music!
- Zumba veterans – if you want a backup for when you can't get to class and/or you want an encyclopedic knowledge of the steps.
- anyone who likes to shake their booty!
Overall verdict: A great set of DVDs that I will be using for years to come.
Zumba Fitness® DVDs are available from ZumbaFitness.co.uk. I received a Zumba Fitness® DVD Kit and was under no obligation to review but decided to do so of my own free will. I received no other compensation. Blah blah blah legal schmegal. This is why I don't sell out too often
* N.B. This is just my own view – I'm not against giveaways and bloggers getting free stuff! I just personally find the whole process really uncomfortable!
ETA: Here's a USA link for the Zumba DVDs.