Put Your Heart Into It and Dance Like Crazy

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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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.

A couple of months ago, Harvard Pilgrim contacted me to see if I’d be interested in working with them on their “Well-Together Challenge,” a month-long challenge where two bloggers with different backgrounds (e.g. a runner and yoga instructor) are matched up to encourage one another to try new things. It sounded like a neat opportunity, and I’m always on board for something new, so I immediately signed on. I was paired with my blog buddy Sarah, so the two of us will each be blogging about our experiences on our individual blogs over the next four weeks.

When Sarah and I were first matched up for this project, we emailed one another a bunch of potential ideas. We’re both really into fitness, so it wasn’t a surprise that our lists included lots of classes and workouts that we wanted to try. On my list was Zumba. My old gym offered Zumba classes, but I never went to one. It always looked like a fun way to workout, but I always chose Body Pump or running on the treadmill instead.

Sarah knows an awesome instructor who teaches Zumba at Equinox, so she suggested we take her class for our first session together.

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Lauren Hefez, the instructor, was absolutely amazing and totally made the class!

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Sarah and I arrived just a couple of minutes before Lauren started class, so we snagged a couple of spots in the back, which was totally fine with me since I had never done Zumba before. Lauren got right into the workout with a moderate paced warm-up and then continued to pick up the intensity for the rest of the 45-minute class. Each song had a slightly different feel to it with regard to the music and choreography, so it was almost like a bunch of mini workouts in one class, which definitely held my interest and made the time fly by.

For each song, Lauren would demonstrate a few new dance moves for us to do and then we’d repeat them over and over again. Once we got the hang of it, Lauren would then add some more moves until we had a few short routines that we could string together. Most of her choreography was modern, hip hop-inspired, and a little funky with lots of jumps and plyometrics mixed in to boost our heart rate and caloric burn. When a new song came on, we had about 10 seconds to catch our breath before starting again with a whole new series of dance moves and routines.

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During the first 10-15 minutes of class, I focused a lot of my attention on choreography and properly doing each and every move, which, not surprisingly, turned me into an even more awkward dancer. Instead of just having fun, I felt totally self-conscious and worried about my ability to keep up with the rest of the class. I really loved the music””Rihanna, David Guetta, and Lady Gaga just to name a few””but I kept getting stuck on the tiny details of the choreography.

When the third or forth song of the class started to play, Lauren yelled: “Put your heart into it and dance like crazy” to motivate us. She was a ball of energy and just wanted everyone to have fun, so I started to loosen up and not focus so much on perfectly performing every routine. There were a lot of great dancers in the class, but there were also plenty of people, just like me, who didn’t know what the heck they were doing. Once I realized everyone was there to just have fun and get their body moving, I relaxed and really got into it.

As the class progressed, I started to get the hang of the choreography too. Lauren introduced new dance moves and then repeated them multiple times over and over again, so it started to get easier to anticipate the choreography changes and remember the routines. After class, I asked Lauren if each song is choreographed from beginning to end, and she said for the most part they are, but she knows all of the songs she plays by heart, so she’ll improvise when inspired. Being familiar with the songs also helped me feel out the choreography. I could see how attending regular Zumba classes would make this easier too.

As far as getting a good workout, I’m surprised how intense Zumba can be. It’s definitely one of those workouts where you get what you put into it. If you kick your own butt and don’t stop moving, you’ll get a serious heart-pumping sweat session. (FYI: Sarah wore her heart-rate monitor during class and burned 417 calories in 45-minutes!) It also helped that Lauren was such an energetic instructor. She cheered us on and danced around the room the entire time, so even if you felt sort of blah and lazy coming into class, there was no way you’d stay that way for long. Her energy was contagious! Lauren also gave us a bunch of challenging variations for the choreography, so if you really wanted to push yourself, you had the option.

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Before I knew it, class was winding down, and I have to admit, I was kind of bummed. When I first realized class was only 45 minutes, I was thankful it wasn’t a full whole hour, but once I started shaking my tail feather, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to keep dancing! I honestly never thought I’d love Zumba as much as I did. Sure, I wanted to try something new, but I never thought I’d have so much fun and get such a great workout at the same time. I had a blast a Zumba, and I’m so glad I had the chance to try it.

Question of the Day

Have you ever tried Zumba? If so, what’d you think?

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61 Comments

  1. I LOVE Zumba! When I lived in Pittsburgh I joined a Zumba studio and became instantly addicted. I went 5 days a week and it was super intense. Since moving away I’ve struggled to find a studio that I like as much and that kicks my butt. You’re absolutly right, you get out what you put in. I love that they also modify the routines based on individual ability. It’s my favorite method of cross training for sure. (I’ve got big plans to get my teaching certification in the spring!)

  2. Glad you liked it! We did Zumba back in the day before it ever became a regular class at gyms. Beto released it in 2002 I think, we ordered it and liked it. Now its relegated to the “fun” workout pile (aka-stuff that doesn’t burn many calories for us) but I’ve seen classes and they’re nothing like the videos, I’m just not a joiner. 🙂

  3. LOVE Zumba! However, from my experience, how much fun you have is directly correlated to the instructor’s energy level, the music, and how many people are taking the class. I’ve been stepped on (by accident) before!

  4. I love zumba!!!! I have progressed to the worst dancer in my class to one of the better ones. It really helps when you are familiar with the songs/moves!

    And it is a great workout, if you jump high and keep pushing yourself, you’ll be a seriously sweaty beast!

    We are just starting to learn/do a few zumba toning songs with the toning sticks (2 lbs). They are killer!

  5. I tried Zumba once and didn’t like it. I think I’m the only one on earth who doesn’t LOVE Zumba so I’m wondering if it was just the format. There were 3 different teachers who swapped in and out and I couldn’t figure anything out. I’m more used to step where they cue you – for workout purposes it felt like I was just jumping around doing whatever since I was always 4 moves behind. Ha Ha I need to try it again sometime with a single instructor.

  6. I’ve never tried Zumba, but I’ve read all about it on Fitnessista’s blog. It looks like a blast, and she obviously loves it. I think I’d look like a dork though–I don’t have much of a dancing talent. The most “dancing” I’ve done for working out is taking a step class. 🙂 And I did sprain my ankle once.

  7. Hi, I’m Tari, I’m a Zumba Addict! I love, love, love Zumba. I go 3x a week religiously and never miss a class. Our instructors are the best and keep the class energized and focused on burning those calories and having a great time doing it.

  8. Aw, looks like so much fun! I’ve wanted to try Zumba for awhile now, but have been holding back because I don’t have any friends who go to the same gym. Somehow trying Zumba for the first time alone just doesn’t sound as fun. I should probably do it anyway, might be a fun way to meet more people as interested in fitness as I am!

  9. I had my first Zumba experience at FitBloggin last month. I was nervous about making a fool out of myself, but I put that aside and had a ball! It reminded me about the importance of stepping outside my comfort zone. This reminds me that I should look into taking some classes here at home.

  10. I LOVE Zumba! I’m not great at it (choreography and I just aren’t pals), but it’s so much fun. Glad you enjoyed your first class!

  11. I think it’s the same with a lot group fitness classes. I always feel self conscious no matter what it is. In reality though no one is watching you and you should just try to have fun. There is a zumba class at my gym… I should try it 🙂

  12. I LOVE Zumba, but it is ALL about the instructor. I was convinced I hated it for so long because I had a terrible instructor the first time I tried it. Then, a friend of mine started teaching so I promised to go to her class and I LOVED it. Since then, I’ve realized that if I don’t like a class, I’ll try it with a different instructor before I write it off completely.

  13. I took Zumba several times last year. It’s a blast! I need to go back. Great cardio and a bit more interesting than the elliptical.

  14. I’ve done Zumba at a few different gyms, and every class was soooo different. I’m pretty self-conscious, but I took my first Zumba-type classes in Spanish while living in the DR, so it was doubly confusing. I would have to just drop out when they started to salsa!! At my last gym, Zumba was incredibly popular and they would have these HUGE dance parties once a month or so. It was not intimidating at all because there were a lot of older people, even some men!

  15. I haven’t attended a Zumba class yet – but I go to a “hip hop” workout class that I LOVE – after my first time I was hooked. I’m sure Zumba is very similar, from what you described. Our instructor is pregnant now so I might go to Zumba once she has to take time off

  16. Were you at the CBC Pumpkin Beerfest on Saturday? I thought I saw a Murphy-like pug go by 🙂 The fest was amaaaaazing!

  17. I LOVE Zumba! Probably because I’m a big ball of energy myself, haha. I’ve never taken an actual Zumba class, but I’ve found a lot of dances on YouTube. My favorite (and probably one of the hardest!) is the one to Waka Waka by Shakira (in support of 1 Goal). I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of it!

  18. We were lucky and a local town offered outdoor zumba for free to the public once a week during the summer. So a few coworkers and I tried it and got hooked. We even attended a “Glow Zumba”…black lights and neon.
    I like the cardio of zumba and believe it has helped my running. Now I am searching for a class for winter.

  19. Zumba is one of my all time favorite workouts!!! I will say however, that the instructor can make or break the class. I switched gyms recently and was happy that the new gym had Zumba on their limited class schedule but quickly realized it wasn’t going to work for me. The instructor just wasn’t up to par. Sad, because I do love it so much.

  20. I love Zumba! I’ve been going to classes for over 2 yrs now. My favorite are the 2 hr Zumba parties. 2 hrs of non stop zumba. Usually 2-4 instructors teach so you are doing all kinds of different moves and styles. I have found with each instructor they all have there own style. You have to find an instrctor that fits you. They offer Zumba at my job. I call it wimpy zumba. In a 60 minute class I bearly sweat & only burn about 400 calories. Where as when I got to the high intensity classes at my gym, those hour classes I burn around 650 calories. And for my 2 hrs classes it’s always over 1100 calories. Glad you tried it and liked it.

  21. I’ve taken a few zumba classes and I really enjoyed it! I used to take ballet classes, but zumba dances are completely different and out of my comfort zone. So I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it, but after taking one class, I realized how much I did enjoy it!

  22. When I go home, I go to zumba at least once a week. Usually, I even follow my instructor to the various gyms she teaches at because I just love it so much. I’m by no means a good dancer, either, which is what makes it so fun. It’s a time to just let loose and dance without anyone judging. Plus, you might get a few new moves out of it, too 😉

  23. I’ve never tried Zumba – dancing is sooo not my strong suit. I think I just need to swallow my pride and try it because it looks like so much fun, I’ve just always been afraid that everyone would be amazing dancers and I would feel awkward and stick out. They offer it at my gym so I think it’s about time I give it a try!

  24. I love Zumba and think it’s such a great workout (always leave dripping in sweat)….BUT I’m absolutely “terrible” at it, I can never follow along to the routines and so I end up feeling silly. Probably just means I should go more often!

  25. I am the most uncoordinated person in the world but I love Zumba! Maybe because it reminds me of the Jazzercise classes I used to take in college? I guess the atmosphere is so non-pressure that you don’t feel ridiculous trying really hard to make a fool of yourself (or maybe that’s just how I feel when I try really hard to “dance”) – everybody else is too!

  26. Wahoo! I teach Zumba, so obv I love it. And yes, it tottallllllyyyy depends on the instructor! People can try Zumba and ‘hate’ it, but it’s usually b/c the instructor has no energy or doesn’t know her/his choreo.

    I agree with just letting it GO. Dancing and Zumba is all about just freeing your heart and not caring what others might think. The second you feel self-conscious, it becomes less fun. Hence why i love teaching it….I’m not worried at all what people think, and thus, they don’t either and we all have a blast together! 🙂

  27. I have only taken one class but loved it and got in a great workout. I bought it for my Wii and love doing it in my living room with no one watching. I still totally sweat and it’s so fun I don’t even feel like it’s a workout.

  28. You look ripped Tina! It’s so cool that you’re diversifying your fitness regimen and still getting such great results, you’re an inspiration to us all!

  29. I’ve tried it a couple times and each experience was so different! I guess it really depends on the instructor and what kind of music they pick and the choreography. It was definitely fun, but I think it would have been MORE fun with some friends. Looks like a fun workout challenge to do!
    Love your top, btw (shape and color are really nice).

  30. My gym offers classes, but I don’t intent to take one. I hate dancing, so I can;t imagine it being any fun for me. But a lot of people really, really love it. It must be doing something right. Glad you enjoyed your class!

  31. OMG. I love Zumba ! I cannot believe I actually found a form of exercise that is in class form that I love. So important to find the right teachers and class. I may show up to Zumba having a rough day however my attitude totally changes once I leave. Make sure you wear the proper footwear for continued Zumba happiness.

  32. Zumba is my go-to workout! Actually my main source of cardio these days! Whenever I’m in a funk, like you mentioned with your instructor today, you’re out of it by the time class is over! the music is great, the energy is great, and I’m drowned in sweat by the end of the hour. Glad you gave it a shot! 🙂

  33. i have been doing bodyjam (a dance style class as well) for a year on and off with a friend and I am still fairly horrible at it when a new dance happens, but when I get to repeat previous ones I am much better. Takes me a lot longer than everyone else, but oh well. It is still fun to do with a friend and always nice to completely forget about the world because I have to concentrate so hard on making sure I am facing the right side of the room.

  34. Tried Zumba, few different instructors, hated every single one. I loved hi-lo in the 80’s which is what Zumba basically is, but I hate the zumba music. I found one gal that plays a lot of modern stuff but the latin stuff I just hate it. As a trainer I don’t like that most instructors don’t cue, aren’t on mic, and offer no safety points. I wrote a whole blog post about it 😉

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