Outside My Comfort Zone: Zumba Class

October 30, 2012 · 27 comments

As you know, I love to try new fitness classes. In LA, I took a SoulCycle class the morning after I landed in LA at 7 AM. I also paid a visit to Pop Physique the day after my 6.5 hour fitness shoot. I was a little sore but not enough to make me not want to try a new class. It was very similar to The Bar Method and I enjoyed it. I just have an itch to try everything and can’t sit still until I do!

Fittingly this month, I am participating in the Harvard Pilgrim Well Together Challenge. I’ve been paired up with my pal Tina, from Carrots ‘n’ Cake to try new fitness classes, techniques and healthy experiences. We will be sharing with all of you our experiences throughout November. I challenge you to try 4 new adventures as well this month!

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While I thought I had tried most of what Boston has to offer, Tina and I discovered that neither of us has taken a Zumba class. These days many instructors use a more Pop/Hip Hop music playlist. Lauren Hefez teaches Zumba at Equinox and has been begging me to take her class (to laugh at my lack of coordination). Kidding. I love Lauren’s classes so I was up for the challenge and so was Tina.

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The 45-minute class began with a warm up song. Quickly it was obvious the girls in the front were regulars and knew Lauren’s choreography. One thing about dance classes to know is that the more you go, the better the workout. Instead of focusing on getting down the moves, you can really build up a sweat by controlling your muscle movements and accentuating each exercise.

Tina and I hung out in the back, something I never do! The music was current, upbeat and encouraging. The moves were simple enough that I could remember the choreography and actually get my heart rate up. The class was quite the unexpected cardio workout! I burned a total of 417 calories during the 45 minute class! That’s like running 4.5 miles for me. Instead, I got to dance, laugh, and learn new moves for the dance floor (kidding about the last one).

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To be honest, had I not been given the Well Together Challenge, I probably would never have tried Lauren’s class. I assumed Zumba was too easy to be a good use of my time. I was proven wrong and will likely be taking Lauren’s class more often this winter when I can’t run outside.

  • Have you taken a class with a friend thinking it would be a piece of cake and were pleasantly surprised?
  • Have you taken a Zumba class lately? Are more instructors going a more Pop route with their playlists or is this just a Boston trend?

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn! Check out the incredible football video below to get inspired that when people work together, anything is possible.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sara October 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hey sarah, i have tried zumba before but never really got an intense workout from it. The instructor wasnt that great :( But i do have a question about your polar heartrate monitor, Im in need of buying one and im not sure which one to get. any suggestions? Thanks! Sara

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2 Lauren (sweat with Lauren Hefez) October 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Sara- The instructor makes all the difference!!! If you are ever in Boston come take my class :) PS Sarah D. was a rockstar. IF you all could have seen her moves :)

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3 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

lol. You couldn’t pay me to watch a video of myself trying to do Zumba.

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4 sara October 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I would love to come to Boston, so if i ever do I will def take your class!
Lauren- do you have any suggestions on heart rate monitors? i see that Sarah D wears the polar RCX3 so i may just try that one?! Thanks you guys are great btw!

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5 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Lauren doesn’t wear an HR monitor, but I like the Polar RCX3 obvi, but also the FT4 or 6 is good too!

6 Sonia Gawel October 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Zumba was what got me into fitness about 3 years ago! I had an amazing male instructor from Venezuela for 3 years in Indy before I moved. I still really miss his workouts! He was definitely authentically Latino in his choreography and music which was brilliant! I actually got pretty good and became a certified instructor myself. And Zumba is what you put into it. Once you get the moves down and don’t worry about looking a certain way, a good instructor will lead a class in which you’ll burn 600-800 calories in an hour! No joke!

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7 Jayna October 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Just an FYI….a class that is primarily hip-hop/pop is not a true Zumba class. That’s disappointing to read. I suggest you seek out one of the many fantastic Zumba instructors in the Boston area to get the full-out Zumba experience! It still includes burning a crazy amount if calories and plenty of fun. :)

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8 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Hi Jayna, I actually prefer the hip-hop/pop version. I volunteered with the Junior League last year on Saturdays and was able to witness the latin-inspired Zumba on a weekly basis and try it. I was in jeans so I wasn’t able to fully get involved, but it was not my speed and was why I hadn’t given it a try. Music plays a huge part for me when I work out. If I don’t like the music, then I find it hard to get inspired. I thought the choreography was also too difficult to get down since I do not have a background in salsa or meringue.

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9 Sky October 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

This post is ironic because this morning I tried a Fit Camp class for the first time! I absolutely loved, loved, loved the class. It was a cardio and circuit training class that was really challenging. Working out in a group setting really motivated me and pushed me to work harder! I was definitely surprised at how much I loved the class, because group workouts are usually not my thing. I loved the comradery and the support of the class. Fit camp will now become a Tuesday morning tradition for me!
By the way I love Tina! I look at her blog almost once a day!

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10 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I always thought I would hate “camp” class in the morning as well, but was surprised I actually liked the one I took last year! Might sign up for a few this winter myself!

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11 Angela @ The Chicken Scoop October 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

So glad you liked Zumba!! It gets a bad rap as being “too easy”. I definitely think it depends on the class and the instructor. I’ve been to some very easy Zumba classes that I find too boring but once in a while you find an awesome instructor who really gets you pumped! I used to go regularly and burned about 500 calories a class. A lot more fun than running 5 miles sometimes!!My favorite instructor always did songs you knew from the radio (with a couple good Zumba-specific songs thrown in too). She also has a very hip hop style too. Like I said, it depends on the instructor! Glad you enjoyed it!
~Ang

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12 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I agree 100% Many people hate running and I had no idea something so fun and entertaining could burn so many calories. Great workout indeed!

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13 Jami Gobao October 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

You look fab girl! Keep up the great work!!!

ps..Zumba wasnt for me.. I tried it once and the coordination wasnt happening.

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14 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I thought it wasn’t for me either. I think it really depends on the instructor!

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15 sara October 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm

It definately depends on the instructor! :)

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16 Nancy Terry October 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm

If you look up what “Zumba” is you will see that it is supposed to be Latin inspired music! My beef has always been, if it’s more hip hop/pop that’s great but don’t call it Zumba because it is not!! If you think about it, like anything else, it takes practice! Besides, as long as you’re getting a great workout it really doesn’t matter what you look like doing it. Sometimes people have too many hang ups.

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17 Sarah October 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

True! However, that is Equinox not Lauren. The classes with more hits tend to consistently draw a larger crowd, but people are more likely to try out a class called Zumba.

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18 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I know my instructor does stick to a lot of the traditional Latin songs, but he also does some pop and hip-h0p. It keeps it interesting! It’s still the same Zumba moves, and if you’re getting a workout, who cares?

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19 Emily October 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I did a cardio kickboxing class at Corpbasics last week and it sounds very similar to your experience! We were in the back, bent over laughing half the time as we tried to get the dance moves and choreography down. The regulars were up front, we were in the back. I still managed to get a great sweat, but definitely is motivation to go back and get up front :)

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20 Carli October 31, 2012 at 12:17 am

I love Zumba and my instructor. She does a mix of music and that includes some pop. I enjoy the variety, I think thay’s what makes it so fun.

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21 Clarissa October 31, 2012 at 1:02 am

A lot of my friends think Zumba is just a dance class. It raises my heart rate just like HIIT does not to mention my calves burn like hell afterwards.

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22 Alex October 31, 2012 at 1:17 am

I’ve never taken a Zumba class, but I did take a Step class once. I’m not very good with choreography and find dance-workout classes to be intimidating. Sounds like you got an awesome workout though! Maybe I’ll have to give them another try!

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23 Hilary October 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Sarah have you ever taken Les Mills classes? I am a Combat and Jam instructor with a love for Pump and Flow as well ;) TRY THOSE NEXT!

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24 Sarah October 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I Loved Body Pump! They don’t offer it at Equinox though :(

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25 Fairly Odd Mother November 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

Ohhhhh. . . Zumba. . .I swear I just am missing something in my DNA to allow my body to move in that way. Glad it was fun for you!

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26 Eva @ Committed2Nutrition November 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I teach Zumba :) I agree with all others that it depends on the instructor, and the more you go, the better it is.. and ITS WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT..which as you learn the routines, the more you can do and get a better work out.

I love my latin songs.. and thats what actually makes my class so popular. I do really popular spanish songs but also mix in top 20’s pop and hip-hop..but zumba absolutely has to have latin songs… just sayin’ :) glad you liked it!!

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27 Vanessa November 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Hi Sarah! Love your blogs! :) I like your Polar above as well! was wondering if you can let me know which Polar is the best if I want to see the calories I burn. I work out daily with cardio, lifting, or yoga. Would this item tell me how many calories I burn through all of those types of activities? Thanks! :)

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