You’ve probably heard about it or even joined one of their parties. For those who are still unfamiliar with this type of exercise, Zumba fitness is a Latin dance-inspired workout that has become one of the most popular group exercise classes in the world. The classes are choreographed using dance moves from several styles (Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia, among others) that are not only easy to follow, but also make you feel as if you are in a club. It is fun for sure, but is it as effective as a workout? In order to answer this question, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) commissioned a study analyzing the fitness aspects of this type of training.

The researchers recruited 19 young (ages 18 to 22), healthy females who have previously participated in Zumba classes. The goal of the study was to determine if the intensity of the sessions was in accordance with the current fitness guidelines (moderate to vigorous). The study measured the average heart rate and the maximum heart rate (the maximum number of heart beats per minute during the session) of the volunteers in order to determine the intensity of the workout session. It also measured the amount of calories burned per minute, among other variables.

The results were outstanding. Zumba has shown to increase heart rate, fulfilling the industry requirements for intensity. This means that Zumba classes promote a cardiorespiratory challenge, which is fundamental for endurance improvement. In addition, the Zumba workouts are assembled in the same pattern as an interval training session, with bouts of high-intensity exercise followed by lower-intensity periods to allow recovery. This type of training has been shown to successfully improve cardiovascular fitness. Also, this high intensity interval training makes you burn more calories when compared to steady-state cardio exercises such as jogging. In the study, participants burned an average of 369 calories per class, which is more than kickboxing, step-aerobics, and power yoga.

The bottom line is: for a fun and effective workout, you may want to join the Zumba party.


“Zumba Fitness: Sure It’s Fun but Is It Effective?” Certified News. September 2012. Available at