Strong by Zumba review: 2017's new cardio fitness trend

Rather than performing your workout to any old song that comes on shuffle, music in the Strong class is composed by Timbaland and his team to fit the routine. Every beat has a move. Every move has a beat

Kirsty Major
Thursday 02 February 2017 14:49
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Zumba fitness class at GYM NYC

I’ve a confession to make: despite being a fitness fanatic I’ve never been to a Zumba class. I’ve always been put off by the Latino dance moves. You see, I was once in a club in Mexico, and despite my protestations a man asked me to dance salsa with him; less than one minute later he put me back in the corner he’d found me in. I’ve never quite got over it. Needless to say, I was a little sceptical of trying out the newest offering from the global fitness brand - Strong by Zumba, due to arrive in the UK later this year.

I tried out the class at GYM NYC in New York, where the workout has already hit the ground running. The concept piqued my interest: rather than designing a workout and performing it to any old song that comes on shuffle, the music in the Strong classes is composed by Timbaland and his team to fit the routine. Every beat has a move. Every move has a beat.

Think high knees, punches, squats, burpees, spider man pushups, and other high-impact moves to specifically synced to a dance playlist. Each move even has its own unique sound, so that you don’t have to look to the instructor for visual cues. But it doesn’t sound like a Street Fighter mash-up; the music a well-produced mix moving ranging across hip-hop, raggaeton, socca and EDM.

We tried out the class at GYM NYC in New York

The class starts off slowly, beginning with shuffles, side steps, and squats. The moves are synchronised to the music, but don’t feel too complicated and compared to its sister class, the footwork is easy enough to manage. Nobody was putting baby in the corner just yet.

Then the pace starts to build. The aerobic like routine begins to incorporate high intensity begins to pick up speed, and I am starting to get salsa flashbacks. Luckily, this doesn’t last last for long and we transition back into repetitive movements.

By the third part of the class, the tempo of the music is starting to build. We run on the spot, jump into explosive lunges and shuffles to the side are now pared with punches into the air. We drop into squats, touching the floor and jump back to bring our legs into centre. There’s no rest in between sets and I am starting to sweat. This is usually the part in my own workout that I’d sneak off to get a glass of water, go chat to an instructor - basically any distraction to catch my breath. But there is no chance of getting out of this class as I’ve managed to trap myself in the first few rows of the class.

As the class begins to wind down, the fourth section moves to the floor. The instructor leads us in crunches, oblique twists and planks. By this point, by core is aching, but even sitting on my bum feels like a small relief. When we stand back up to move into our cool down and stretches I am thoroughly worn out.

Being a Zumba sceptic, I have been converted by the ways of Strong by Zumba. For me, it is high intensity cardio, rather than high intensity interval training. The latter requires you to do a sequence of high intensity moves for between 30 - 45 seconds, with a 30 second to 1 minute break for on average 20 minutes, while Strong by Zumba incorporates high impact moves that build in their intensity over a one hour class.

The class does use bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and burpees, I wouldn’t use it in place of strength training using weights, as there simply aren’t enough sets or repetitions of these moves to encourage muscle growth at the volume that those looking to tone might want. Rather the whole body moves, utilise all of your muscles to increase the number of muscles groups being utilised to create a monster cardio workout.

Strong by Zumba, is perfect for people who want a new and fun cardio routine and for fans of Zumba who want to take their workouts up a notch. It’s a hard core-cardio workout, which pushes you past your own physical limits using an amazing playlist that you might find yourself missing outside of the class.

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