I was never a fan of exercise (or anything requiring too much exertion or sweat) while growing up. Always the last to be picked for teams in my middle-school gym class, I preferred sitting on the sidelines while my classmates competed in push-up marathons and relay races.
It wasn’t until Jane Fonda burst on the scene with her aerobic video workouts in the 1980s that I decided exercise might be fun if it involved dancing to high-energy music. I donned my leotard, leg warmers and Reeboks and joined an all-female aerobics class at the local gym.
Those morning workouts were an essential part of my fitness routine for many years, until the aerobics dance craze dissolved and I got bogged down with work and raising four children.
The onset of menopause, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, caused me to gain a substantial amount of weight by the time I hit 55. During this time, I also felt tired and depressed all the time with zero motivation to improve myself.
Zumba Combines Aerobics with Resistance Training
Five years ago, a few of my friends told me about a new gym nearby and raved about Zumba, a dance-based fitness class that combines aerobic exercise with resistance training. Zumba classes are popular throughout the country. My friends’ enthusiasm for the program piqued my interest, and although I found the competitive nature of most co-ed gyms intimidating, I knew I needed to do something before I ultimately succumbed to living like a sloth.
The philosophy behind Zumba is to have fun while you exercise; to embrace your body and to feel good about yourself.
The first Zumba class I attended was filled mostly with women of all shapes, sizes and ages in a body-positive atmosphere that immediately put me at ease.
The philosophy behind Zumba is to have fun while you exercise; to embrace your body and to feel good about yourself while you’re dancing. No matter where you live in the world, the classes are designed to make you feel happy and healthier rather than worrying about your appearance.
To my surprise, after a few weeks of attending classes, I discovered that Zumba was not only an enjoyable way to exercise, but also had multiple benefits that improved my physical and mental wellbeing.
Since I started doing Zumba, I’ve learned how to salsa, mambo, samba and merengue, and I have more energy now than I ever imagined I would at 60.
Here are 12 benefits you can look forward to when you join a Zumba class:
If you’re still feeling a bit intimidated about joining a class, there are plenty of free Zumba videos online to help you practice and get accustomed to the movements. Experts recommend that you do three to four classes per week to receive the full benefits of the workouts. I would also suggest bringing a friend with you to class — the more, the merrier!
Zumba has been a game-changer for me, physically and mentally. I’ll always be grateful to my circle of friends who convinced me to dust off my sneakers and salsa my way to a healthier life.
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This content was originally published here.