Just two years ago, less than one million people tried the Zumba workout. Today: Seven times that-in 60,000 locations in 105 countries.

It's no wonder. The Zumba workout program, which combines Latin dance moves with resistance training, provides an intense workout no matter your fitness level (and no, you don't have to be a seasoned salsa dancer to pick up the steps). It also burns anywhere from 400 to 500 calories per 45-minute session-or more, depending on how intensely you move. Thanks to the upbeat music and "party" exercise atmosphere, Zumba also has the reputation for being one of the hottest (and most fun) cardio workouts out there right now. So we had to ask: Does the Zumba workout live up to the hype?


Zumba pros: "The moves are very simple and repetitive, so all you have to do is listen and follow the instructor," says Julie Kelly, a Zumba instructor and certified trainer. "Zumba really works your core, because the Latin dance moves specifically target the abdominal area."

What does it take to actually get toned from this? If you do the workout at least three times a week, you could see weight loss in as little as two weeks and have noticeable toning within four to six weeks.

Zumba cons: Zumba can be tricky for anyone dealing with knee or lower back issues. "There's a lot of pivoting and twisting, which can aggravate these areas," says Kelly. "It's still okay to participate, but ask your instructor how to modify the moves."

Top tip: Wear a dance fitness sneaker, aerobics shoe or even a court shoe to class, Kelly recommends. Stay away from wearing running shoes-they're meant to move you forward, not side to side, and they grip the floor.


"I've done Zumba about four times now, and I love that it works my core, arms, legs, and butt!" says Lorraine Goldberg, 28, of Seattle. "The workout is varied, which is awesome because it gets my heart rate going, although I do have a little trouble keeping up with all the dance moves because I'm not the most coordinated person."


"Doing Zumba three times a week and following a healthier diet helped me lose 30 pounds," says Whitney Voyages, 23, of Huntington, NY. "The fast music and high energy makes it fun so that I don't even feel like I'm working out-at least not until I notice how much I'm sweating!"