“… You are probably a fucking Zumeba [sic] instructor or something.”
I once posted an unintentionally inciting comment to a CrossFit message board, and within less than a minute an urbane CrossFit firebreather responded with this comment. Undoubtedly the douchetastic scholar was irked by me; his derision of Zumba was simply ancillary. Still, Zumba seems to share a reputation among the more hardcore as being a bit, well, “gay.”
As of the time of this writing I have never done a Zumba workout. I have, however, to the amusement or embarrassment (I do not know which) of my wife, done a number of Latinesque dances. Let us face it, busting out the occasional unauthorized Los Giros Locos while in the kitchen, or at a densely populated public place, is just prudent. Although I am a Zumba virgin, I have lived the vicarious thrill of it through a number of my friends and relatives who are Zumba addicts.
Following, I provide a summary of Zumba, my subjective comparison of it to CrossFit (dedicated to my favorite firebreather), and a couple of carefully chosen YouTube videos in which it is showcased—a video of my Los Giros Locos dance is still forthcoming.
Summary of Zumba
Zumba is an aerobic fitness enhancing program inspired by Latin dance. It was created by Alberto Perez, informally known as “Beto.”
In the mid-1990s, Perez taught aerobics, and after forgetting to bring music to his class one day, he was forced to take the albums from his backpack—a mixture of merengue and salsa music—and improvise a routine on the fly. His extemporized routine turned out to be an immediate hit, and in the ensuing months his chance “dance-fitness” class quickly gained traction throughout Columbia. In 2001, he brought his then well-honed routine to the United States where he met two entrepreneurs. Shortly thereafter, the three of them went into business, creating “Zumba Fitness.” Today there are Zumba classes taught at thousands of gyms worldwide.
There are currently six types of Zumba classes offered:
Zumba: Zumba is an aerobics class in which participants dance and move continuously to a Latin and international beats soundtrack.
Zumba Gold: Zumba Gold is a decelerated version of Zumba. It caters to older folks, and to those who are just beginning or reinvigorating their fitness journeys.
Zumba Toning: Zumba Toning is a combination of traditional Zumba dance aerobics, and sculpting exercises in which participants use lightweight toning sticks.
Aqua Zumba: As its name suggests, Aqua Zumba is Zumba done in a pool.
Zumbatomic: Zumbatomic is Zumba for kids aged four to twelve.
Zumba Gold Toning: Zumba Gold Toning is Zumba mixed with lightweight resistance training. It caters to older folks and to exercise beginners.
My Subjective Comparison of Zumba to CrossFit
Fitness cartography is inexact. There are myriad paths you can take to reach the coveted end goal of, “marked strength and conditioning”—each path sure to illicit both praise and scorn from the fitness community. In the above referenced incident, a CrossFit firebreather indirectly admonished Zumba—suggesting it is a second rate path, at least when compared to CrossFit. Is he right? Let us compare Zumba to CrossFit by answering some questions.
Which discipline affords a greater per-minute calorie burn?
Determining calorie expenditure under exercise load is never an exact science; there are many variables at play, not the least being post-workout oxygen consumption and elevated metabolism. However, based on widely accepted statistics, it is probably safe to say that most forms of exercise called on by CrossFit—weight lifting, jumping, sprinting, jump-roping, etc.—burn a greater number of calories than dancing does in a given time period. Win—CrossFit
Which are you more likely to sustain injury from?
I am going to have to go with CrossFit here. FAQ section 10.32-4 on the CrossFit website begins, “Don’t kill anyone- Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially lethal threat to newcomers…” I cannot find quite as ominous a warning on Zumba.com. Win—Zumba
Which is more terrifying to newcomers?
Calling upon some time-tested and ridiculous stereotypes, women would probably find swinging cold iron around in a testosterone rich environment (CrossFit) more intimidating than they would taking a Zumba class. Men on the other hand, would probably feel more comfortable participating in a CrossFit workout than they would taking part in public dancing. Tie
Which is more likely to benefit you at a dance club?
Ostensibly this is a question women should answer about men; perhaps there is better phraseology too. Who would you rather go home with, the buff guy, or the better dancer? Win – Zumba
Who is likely to be better equipped to defend your honor, the firebreathing CrossFiter, or the Zumba champ?
Again, this is a question geared to women. Win – CrossFit
Which discipline will make you the strongest?
Though it does incorporate some strength training techniques, Zumba is largely cardio based. CrossFit training enhances both strength and cardio conditioning. Win – CrossFit
I could go on wax poetic with these jocular questions, but I will stop and give CrossFit the win. I will not, however, go so far as to declare Zumba second rate. Zumba provides an excellent path to fitness for many. Does it have the ferocity of CrossFit? No, but that simply does not matter. One thing is certain though, the “CrossFit versus Zumba” debate will wager on in social media for some time.
A Couple of Carefully Chosen Youtube Videos Showcasing Zumba