"Zumba" is aerobic craze that allows people to work out at their own pace
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
MILWAUKEE - In today's body-conscious culture, it seems people will try anything to slim down and tone up. The latest fitness craze to sweep the nation? It's called "Zumba".
In case you've been living under an aerobic rock, Zumba is a fast-paced, high-intensity workout, set to latin music. But before you lace up your dancing shoes, be warned. Experts say the road good health could hurt you. Whether it's the music, or the moves, something about Zumba has people hooked.
"It's just... it's music," said one participant. "All it is, you're just dancing to different kinds of music. Salsa, Mirengue, Cumbias."
"It's a little bit of hip hop, a little bit of Latin," said another.
"It's not like any other aerobics. It makes you move," said a third.
Zumba creators estimate 12 million people worldwide Zumba away the calories each week, but experts warn, if you're not careful, this latin dance craze could be dangerous. According to both Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the number of Zumba-related injuries is on the rise and has been for months. Common complaints include sprains to the back, knees and ankles.
John Woolf is a physical therapist. He says the boost in Zumba injuries is reminiscent of the same old song and dance. When you see an increase in the amount of people doing a particular workout, naturally there are more injuries. However he says often patients' stories are sewn together by one common, overzealous thread.
"They try to accomplish a task or complete a course or a boot camp or something, but yet have not really prepared their body to succeed," Woolf said.
And the best ways to succeed? Woolf recommends starting slow. When getting into shape, begin by walking or jogging, and build to a class like Zumba. Also, avoid "injury amnesia." If you have a back, knee or ankle problem, take proper precautions, including consulting your doctor. All advice preached at the Y and, perhaps even more, at Curves, where instructors craft their Zumba classes to cater to a lower impact crowd.
"I'm always looking back and making sure that everyone's okay, and that's why I give modifications, making sure that people can do only what they can do," said instructor Danielle DePorter.
And participants appreciate the pre-set limits. That's because, as Woolf predicted, some are working out into their golden years.
"We do it at our own pace," said participant Jane Szaniszlo. "We don't do a lot of jumping because some of us have false knees and false hips."
Others are working with past injuries.
"I have shoulder injuries and elbow injuries from softball, knee injuries from volleyball, and I broke my foot once playing softball," said Megan Barnett.
So in a nutshell, experts and Zumba-converts alike say the advice is simple. When looking to step up your work out regimine, know your limits, and know what you're getting into, which, when done right, participants say, is a great workout. That is, if you can keep the beat.