The fitness industry is constantly diversifying with new fitness trends and crazes. The most recent trend is Zumba. Zumba is being marketed as a new exciting way to stay active and healthy. It boasts of its fun aspect and its ability to bring people together to get fit and have fun at the same time. Founder, Alberto Perez a Miami based dancer once forgot his traditional music to a fitness class he was leading and instead used some Latin music tapes. He delivered the session letting the music lead and guide him like in a club. The participants loved it and so Zumba was born.
Now, more than 3 million DVDs have been sold in over 30 countries. In a recent poll, Zumba ranked 9th for international fitness trends in the year 2012 (Thompson, 2012). Zumba currently has well over 9,000 instructors worldwide and on October 15, 2007 Zumba was showcased on the Today Show. In October 2008, worldwide Virgin Active sport centres started proposing Zumba classes in their programs (Zumba Fitness, 2012). Today, Virgin Active in Norwich offers an exclusive range of fitness classes including; body pump, body combat and step classes. Zumba features in their aerobic classes, and is fast growing in popularity says the Norwich Virgin Active Fitness Manager in an interview (see appendices).
However despite the ever-growing popularity and widespread of Zumba, there is still very little documented research highlighting the potential fitness and health benefits of the dancing phenomenon. The author, a volunteer at Virgin Active agreed with fitness managers that determining the average exercise intensity and energy expenditure during a Zumba class could provide valuable information about the classes Virgin has to offer and a unique selling point. This project set out to determine the average exercise intensity and energy expenditure during a Zumba fitness class at Virgin Active.
Melissa Napier conducted a case study, investigating if and how, Zumba fitness has impacted women’s participation in Doon Valley Leisure Centre. The objectives were to source out the reasons and factors that were impacting female participation levels within physical activity.
The research found that for a fitness centre in Dalmellington, the majority of Zumba participants were aged between 40-59 years. However these results were obtained from both Zumba and Aqua Zumba participants which supports evidence in the secondary research that Aqua fitness is popular and recommended to the elderly population. Zumba participants said they attend classes because they think Zumba is an enjoyable exercise and allows them to socialize whilst increasing their fitness. Section 2 of the questionnaire asked the Zumba participants what they think makes Zumba different and more appealing than other forms of exercise, 44% answered ‘Fun’. Other activities that the Zumba participants said they enjoy include: Aqua Zumba and swimming. For the non Zumba participants they said they preferred gym, swim and fitness classes other than Zumba. This is not surprising as 80% of non Zumba participants are members and all these services are accessible to them as they are included in the membership prices.
Evidence in Secondary research shows that interest in sport declines with age however the investigators primary research shows that 53% of Zumba/Aqua Zumba participants are 40-59 years old with only 7% aged 16-24 years old. Although Zumba may not appeal to all, it is 16-24yrs with latent demand for more physical activity options according to the Active People Survey carried out by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation.
The only other literature which examined the exercise intensity of Zumba was conducted at Adelphi University (Otto et al., 2011). It reported caloric expenditure during Zumba to be between 6.6 and 7.4 Kcal·min-1 depending on the particular dance style being performed. However there appears to be a wide range in the intensity of Zumba and other group fitness classes, depending upon the choreography and enthusiasm of the instructor. The enthusiasm of the instructor, as well as the experience of being in a group setting, often spills over to the participants, who then work harder. This cannot be captured when following video-taped workouts and the growing popularity of Zumba warrants additional research into this growing fitness trend.
Twelve healthy female volunteers (20 ± 1.5 years, 1.57 ± 0.08 m, 61.9 ± 22.6 kg) were selected from the Virgin Active fitness club in Norwich. All participants were regular exercisers and were relatively experienced at participating in Zumba fitness classes. Prior to participating in the research project, all subjects were asked to complete a PAR-Q and provide written informed consent. Participants completed a health history questionnaire to check for any contra-indications which would prevent them from participating, and were informed that they could withdraw from the study at any time, even after giving their written consent. The data produced from the study was kept confidential and the participants were able to access their particular data if requested.
Prior to the Zumba class, each participant had to perform an incremental, maximal treadmill test in the Norwich City College sports laboratory. This test measured the participant’s heart rate (HR) and oxygen consumption (VO2). Test procedures can be found in appendices. From this test, an individual linear regression equation was developed for each subject to predict VO2 from HR. This equation was subsequently used to predict VO2 (ml·kg-1·min-1) during the Zumba session for that subject. Measurements of steady state oxygen uptake by the participants were used as an indirect method to measure energy expenditure (calorimetry). Energy expenditure was calculated from the predicted VO2 data assuming a constant of 5 Kcal·L-1 of O2 consumed. Similar studies had demonstrated that the HR-VO2 relationship during treadmill exercise accurately reflected the HR-VO2 relationship during Zumba.
After treadmill testing, subjects were given a Zumba DVD and told to practice the routine at least three times prior to the class. Following the treadmill test, all participants took part in a Zumba session. The Zumba class was delivered by a fully qualified zumba instructor in a sports hall at Virgin Active. During the class, all participants wore a heart rate monitor which recorded all the data throughout the session. After the session, the data was inserted into the individuals HR-VO2 regression equation to estimate the VO2 and energy expenditure of the participant during the class.
Participants were recruited from Virgin Active. Participants were found using a simple snowball sampling technique because of the social networks that existed between class members. Zumba enthusiasts were asked to recommend other appropriate people for the project.
The research design relied heavily on numerical data, therefore the research project adopted a quantitative approach. Numerical data included heart rates, vO2 max data and Kcal data. The project used regression analysis to identify the relationship between exercise intensity and calorie expenditure. Data were analysed using the statistical package IBM SPSS, PC program, version 7.5
Physiological responses to the Zumba session can be found in Table 1. The average HR was 154 ± 14 bpm, which corresponded to 79 ± 7.0% of HRmax. The average estimated VO2 was 66 ± 10.5% of VO2 max. The average estimated energy expenditure of participating in a Zumba session was 9.5 ± 2.69 Kcal·min-1, which corresponded to an average of 369 ± 108 Kcal per class.
To improve cardiovascular fitness, ACSM recommends that apparently healthy adults should exercise between 64-94% of HRmax and 40-85% of VO2max (ACSM, 2010). In order to control body weight, it is recommended individuals expend an average of 1500 or more kcal per week, which is 300 kcal per exercise session when exercising five times a week (ACSM,2010). Based upon the above recommendations, the Zumba class met ACSM guidelines for both parameters. Exercise intensity averaged 79% of HRmax and 66% of VO2max, respectively, and every subject fell within the recommended guidelines.
Conclusions and recommendations
Zumba is likely best suited for those who are already comfortable with fitness routines and with dance, as it could offer a pleasant change and participants would already know that they could keep up with dance fitness routine. However Zumba is also suitable for participants of all age and fitness levels. The intensity of the workout is relatively subjective so this means the participants can make the workout however hard or easy they would like depending on their enthusiasm and inhibitions. ACSM recommends that individuals should burn atleast 300 Kcals per workout in order to promote weight loss and maintain a healthy body composition (ACSM, 2010). This study concluded that participating in a Zumba dance class used an average of 369 Kcal for an average length class. It should be pointed out that average class length in the current study was approximately 39 minutes in length. Longer classes would obviously result in greater energy expenditure. Thus, regular participation in Zumba should positively affect body composition. Future studies may want to focus on the physiological benefits following an 8-12 week Zumba training period.