I’m man enough to Zumba . . . And like it

I am a HUGE fan of Zumba class (as I have posted a bit about it); I have been doing it pretty much once a week for about a year. I have noticed that I am usually the only XY individual in the class. Well … I do not know the genetic background of the other class participants; I’m just assuming. I’m writing about this topic because I mentioned that I wanted to try another Zumba class to mix up my routine a little bit, in a previous post (***).

*Random, is Zumba one of those words that can be used as a noun and a verb?*

Last night I checked out Zumba class at another Crunch fitness. Typically, I try to get to a Zumba class a little early because:

  1. I like to stretch and do some body weight exercises before class.
  2. I want a good spot – the first or second row and slightly to the right of the instructor.

Yesterday, right off of the bat, I was asked:

You know this is a Zumba class?

I took a slight internal breath (your boy can be a little sassy when he needs to be). I responded:

Yes, I know. I’m just mixing up my cardio routine.

Then, I thought to myself that she probably has never seen a dude in a Zumba class before. It’s not her fault. I mean it’s not as bad when someone assumes that I smoke menthol cigarettes, because I’m black. But cigarettes aside, she was really cool and mentioned that it is nice to see a guy in the class.

I searched the Internet to see if there were any topics, regarding men and Zumba.

It seems that the common consensus is Zumba is considered as “girl’s” workout –

Beto Perez

even though a man, Beto Perez, came up with the concept. This feeling makes sense. If you are the only guy in a class of 34 women, then your gender makes up only 2.8% of the class, which can be a little scary. Also, we live in a somewhat “monkey see, monkey do society”. If males are not doing a particular, then other males probably will not do that activity. Also, Zumba typically is marketed to women. The gym that I went to last night actually has women-only Zumba classes, which seems a little repetitive.

Screwing up/ Feeling weird

When starting a new activity, most people do not like to screw up. Unless, you already have an extensive dance background, you will screw up in the first few Zumba classes. I know that I did. So, one can feel inferior to other class members, who have been attending a particular Zumba class for a while. You think to yourself, how/why are they getting the moves but I cannot. To be perfectly, I think that I get the moves faster than some of the other newer women in my class. BUT, the thing is NOBODY CARES!!! No one is going to talk about how bad you are [maybe unless they blog about the class ;)]. After class, I hang out to stretch, do planks, and ab work, and some folks hang out and chat with the instructor. Not once did I ever hear any of them say things like:

  • Did you see how bad person X’s cumbia was?
  • Person A is a rhythmless fool.

I will admit that some times I do feel a little weird with some of the over-sexualized booty shaking, Beyonce/Shakira moves. My hips just do not move like that . . . for the most part. I still cannot do the hip rotation while turning in a counterclockwise motion. For some odd reason, I can do it in a clockwise motion.


I guess those moves are not too weird to me, as an African American, because a lot of our dances have some type of “sexy shaking/gyrating” component to it. I guess can feel a little strange when you are the only guy in a class of women doing those moves. I have noticed that there are not too many of those types of movements in classes taught by men. So maybe it’s a female instructor thing.

If you think about it, many of the moves that football players do in the end zone after scoring a touchdown are kind of zumba-esque moves 😉

I know that we have done the move in the middle panel in one of my Zumba classes.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

It’s tough starting something new, especially if you have not done it before. Actually, I was one of the those guys who originally thought that Zumba was a “girl’s” workout. Then, I had a really bad back injury and could not run, so I checked out a Zumba class. Yes, it was tough at first. . . actually, it was not that bad.

  • I think that my first class was tough because I got a spot in the back of the class (I was a little insecure about being the only male in a class full of women). So, it was hard to see the instructor do the moves. Also, I felt like I was a step or five behind because I was following the moves of people in front of me.

I think that I have some natural rhythm. Plus, as a scientist, my mind kind of runs in a logical manner. So, if I know that I’m going to do something three times in one direction, I am already thinking about how I’m going to do it in the other direction.  The weird thing about me is that I do not freestyle dance that well, but I can pick up choreography (as long as it is not too intricate) pretty fast . . . IMO. I’m sure that dancers from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance would disagree.

download (3).jpg

For me, Zumba seems more efficient than running on a treadmill. Obviously, I would not substitute training for a half- or full-marathon or lifting weights (many guys prefer to strength train over cardio) by doing Zumba, in lieu of running or strength training. But, I think that it is a great substitute (or rather, supplement) to a purely cardiovascular program. For example, my side by side comparison of a 45 minute treadmill run to a 47 min Zumba class:

  • Treadmill run for ~45 minutes – 5 miles with 0.75 miles at 9:05 min/mi and 0.25 miles at 8.15 min/mi
    • Ave Heart Rate: 149 bpm
    • Ave Calories Burned: 13 cals/min
  • Zumba class for 47 min
    • Ave Heart Rate: 158 bpm
    • Ave Calories Burned: 15 cals/min

Even with the Zumba class, I entered my peak cardio zone sooner than my treadmill workout. Keep in mind that those stats are based on the instructor’s class, because I have attended a couple of Zumba classes where I barely spent any time in my peak cardio zone.

An article by Anya Brodech posted on Caloriebee.com mentioned her top five reasons why guys should do Zumba. 

  1. Women L-O-V-E men who do Zumba. Ok, this is a dumb reason. NEXT!
  2. You learn how to move awesome. I can agree with this reason.
  3. You get a fun cardio workout. Very true, once you get over your initial insecurities and dance like no one is watching you.
  4. Improve your coordination. This is a good reason because improving coordination can translate into other types of sports/workouts.
  5. Improve your strength and flexibility. I do not know about flexibility but many of the classes do have a small strength component. No, you will not bulk up but the toning aspect is very relevant.

All in all, I fully support breaking the gender barrier in the Zumba movement. Show these women what you are made of. 😉


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