What To Expect At Your First Zumba Class
You want to go to your first Zumba class, you think it would be fun but…you’re scared. You won’t know what to do, you’re horribly uncoordinated, people will laugh at you, and you think you might die. Does that about cover it? Well, I’m here to tell you you’re dead wrong.
Concern #1: You Won’t Know What To Do:
Your first concern is a valid one, you probably won’t know what to do all of the time. But the beauty of a Zumba class (when taught by a good instructor) is that the routines are easy to follow, so you catch on really quickly!
The first 5-10 minutes will be the worst because that is when you are trying to figure out your instructor’s way of cueing.
Most Zumba instructors teach without speaking, instead, we use non-verbal cues to tell you what to do and when to do it. And most of us use the same 6-10 cues over and over so you very quickly catch on to our madness.
There will be some things that you won’t catch onto your first (or second, or even your third) class, and that’s okay! It takes time to learn a new skill.
Follow along to the best of your ability and if you get lost, just march on the spot or take a quick water break and join back in when you can.
Zumba is supposed to be fun, there is no point in stressing over something that is supposed to be a stress reliever!
Concern #2: I’m Too Uncoordinated For Zumba
Okay. Here’s the thing. Over my career, I’ve taught thousands and thousands of people in fitness classes. The number of people I’ve encountered that I would honestly consider uncoordinated in all that time is 3.
Not one of those people were in a Zumba class. When I tell people that they are like, “Well I’m going to be number 4!” I highly doubt it. If you can do a step touch in time with me, there is hope for you. Coordination is an aspect of fitness just like cardio, strength, and flexibility. If you don’t train it, you lose it.
The good news is coordination is one of the easiest to regain. Sure some people flail around a bit their first couple classes, but there is so much being thrown at you that, that has nothing to do with coordination and more to do with learning something new.
Concern #3: People Will Laugh At Me
There is almost always an influx of giggling when there are a few new people in the class, but it’s not the “regulars” laughing at the new people.
It’s the new folks laughing at themselves! The other participants aren’t going to point and stare or laugh at you. We all remember our first class and the courage it took to just show up. We respect you from the first second just for showing up.
And news flash: in Zumba, everyone is too concerned with what they are doing to be looking at you! Even the people behind you are looking past you at the instructor to see what they should be doing next.
Ain’t nobody got time to be worried about you (except your instructor, and (s)he isn’t going to laugh at you either).
Concern #4: I’m out of shape and am going to die
Um, no. Another reason I really love Zumba is that you only work as hard as you can, or want to work.
The intensity level is highly customizable, and a good instructor will show you high and low impact options as well as different ways to increase or decrease intensity. Go at a pace that works for you, and as your fitness level improves you’ll be able to go a bit harder.
If you are really concerned then I would suggest first checking out a Zumba Gold class. Zumba Gold is the lower intensity, low impact version of Zumba and was developed specifically for beginners, those returning to exercise after injury or illness, pregnant and postpartum gals, older adults, and those who simply want a less intense workout.
Another plus for Zumba Gold – the instructor typically verbally and visually cues so you have less figuring out to do!
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Other things you should know:
Yes you need to wear sneakers. No bare feet or sock feet are not okay. This is a fitness class, not a dance class. You run the risk of someone stepping on your feet, you don’t have the lateral support you need or the cushioning for your feet.
Wear comfortable clothing that can move and stretch with you (i.e. not jeans and a button-up shirt). Ladies, a sports bra is definitely a must.
Bring water. You’re moving a lot, you’re going to get thirsty! If you’re a big sweater a small sweat towel is a good idea as well.
Tell your instructor this is your first time. (s)He may have some specific tips based on how their class is set up.
I urge new folks to find a spot near the front where they can see me, but if they are adamant about going towards the back (and I totally get that) I will point out one or two participants that they can watch from behind if they can’t see me to help them figure out what they should be doing.
My first-timer pep talk sounds something like this:
Have fun and don’t worry about it. If you don’t know what to do, just do something and then fall back into it when you can. As long as you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else it’s all good
Now go get your Zumba on!