Pros: Fun, Music is Different, Low Impact
Cons: Hardly any verbal cuing, set is very simple
I am an exercise-phobe. I just don't like cardio workouts at all. I have been searching for a video or DVD that would not be so challenging that I give up in frustration, yet would keep me interested and burning calories.
I got a two-tape set from ebay with the resistance band for my sister for Christmas. But I ended up keeping it. Ha!
Beginner Tape I tried it last week and, at first, was sort of confused. I pictured Zumba being in a cool club or outside or somewhere a lot more high tech than a little wood floored studio with a bunch of people in typical exercise gear. I guess I had in mind a party or something.
Once I got past that, I noticed that Beto, the instructor, rarely speaks. He can't speak English well and he never cues. He just dances. There is a woman named Giselle who does talk now and then but really, if you need cuing and lots of "you can do it!" stuff, this will disappoint.
I can't dance at all. I am as clumsy as they come. I am still apologizing to my dog for kicking him when I was in my Tae Bo phase. BUT...for some reason, I picked all the steps up very quickly on the beginner tape.
Basically, this is a 30 minute workout with a very fast warm up, and then a series of dances to music played by a band on the set. Or at least it looks like they are playing the music live.
Beto, clad in a backward baseball cap and street clothes, leads the dances with a smiling group of beautiful people behind him. Giselle is his co-instructor and she explains now and then what we are doing and flirts around with Beto during the dances. The music is Latin inspired but at times seems Middle Eastern or even Egyptian, especially during the warm up and cool down phases. Beto takes you through a series of dance steps, all of which are really quite simple. If I can do them without cuing, anyone can!
There is an element of interval training here as he gets your heart rate up then slows it down only to repeat that series throughout the tape. I like that. I am not one who enjoys huffing and puffing hard for a long period of time. The short slower dance moves gave me the will to continue.
Beto is a bit cheesy. He flirts around with the women and acts all flustered around the hot bodies, but I don't mind. It's supposed to be FUN and that sort of stuff is fun.
I was able to do Zumba without much cardio effort the first time. The next day, I was sore especially in the legs. I just finished doing it again and I think I am ready for the advanced tape. That is not to say that I know all the moves and can do the beginner's workout with ease. I will probably always have to follow Beto's lead and follow along a step or two behind the rest but that's OK with me. As long as I can get a good cardio workout and not injure myself, I am happy.
As far as whether I would recommend this to anyone, I would say don't spend a lot of it. Rent it or try to get it from someone who is selling it. The reason I say this is because some people really hate the fact that there is virtually no cuing at all and that there isn't a lot of talk on the tape. Many need the verbal encouragement from people like Denise Austin and her type who are constantly telling you that you can do it and giving you encouragement.
I find all that to be annoying. I rather enjoyed just doing the workout without all the jabber. It went by incredibly fast and didn't require much space at all.
I have yet to do the advanced tape so this is a review only of the beginner's tape. I will report on the advanced within a week.
To sum up: The music is kind of cool, Beto is sort of cheesy and doesn't give you any instructions - you sort of just follow along. Those who prefer a lot of verbal cuing and instruction will not enjoy this tape. Those who just want to have fun and dance around to work off some calories probably will enjoy Zumba. The beginner's tape is definitely for beginners. I am one and if I don't get winded and feel like I am going to collapse, you KNOW it's not a big challenge. It's great for those starting out and who want to just boogie and have fun without all the complicated instruction that some videos and DVDs are filled with.
It certainly isn't the best work out you will ever get and it surely has a long way to go to complete with a lot of the new dance videos but if you can get Zumba for a decent price and want something slightly different with a Latin beat, go for it.
Just know that you won't be given a lot of instruction so go into it with the idea that you will follow along, get your heart rate up and burn some calories in a very informal setting. And hey, you may have some fun too!
EDIT: I said I would review the Advanced workout once I did it and I did it tonight. Talk about being lost! This is a one hour workout that is so fast paced and the cuing is so non-existent that you either just go along for the ride and do your best at keeping up or smack your head against the wall in frustration. It is amazingly tough as far as learning the steps since no one even tells you what is coming and the steps are intricate. However, since I can't dance anyway, I just flitted around and sort of made up what I couldn't actually pick up from following along.
There is a nice full body workout right before the cool down that is fully explained in detail. Suddenly, Giselle knows names of muscle groups and can explain exactly how to do the moves, only anyone who has ever worked out knows how to do the moves that were explained. But hey, it's better than Beto's "Oh my God!" and "This is hard!' which he repeats throughout both the beginner and advanced work outs in his thick accent.
Some of the workout is high impact but can be modified. I don't jump. I don't hop. I don't do anything that could cause my surgically repaired knee to be reinjured so, when everyone was jumping around, I stayed on the floor and made up my own steps.
The music is good. Some is the same as on the beginner's work out and some is different. There are elements of belly dancing and other types of dancing on the advanced workout as well as beginner's. Like the beginner's, there are faster songs and slower ones to bring the heart rate down some. Trust me, if you follow the advanced work out exactly, your heart rate will be through the roof so do take time to check it and modify if it is too high.
I like the beginner's work out better. It's more fun and far less frustrating. Still, anyone who wants to move their body to Latin tunes and who isn't looking to learn the names of every move and or have constant instruction will get a work out from the advanced video. My recommendation is the same. If you can get the set at a good price and you don't need a lot of cuing, Zumba is a fun, different, dancy workout. If you need a lot of encouragement, directions, and explanation, forget it. I felt like I walked into a party where everyone knew each other and I was the only new person in the crowd. But eh...I burned calories despite the fact that what I was doing and what they were doing looked very different.
Also, although the Zumba resistance band comes with the boxed set, you don't use it in either workout. There is a pamphlet enclosed with exercises you can do using the resistance band. I don't even know why it is included.
For those who are very serious about learning the Zumba steps, there is a tape you can purchase separately for $3.95 (plus S &H) that will break down the steps for you and help you to be able to follow along easier. I don't suggest spending more money for this instructional tape. The steps aren't hard in the beginner's workout and they are so hard in the advanced that I don't think an instructional video will be of much help to people.
The best thing to do is to do the beginner's workout until you can do it with ease as far as feeling winded then move to the advanced and prepare to be lost while Beto, Giselle, and a new group of people along with a few familiar ones from the beginner's workout, dance up a storm. You'll catch on more and more with each workout and what you don't get, you'll learn to modify.
Just listen to the music, watch the fun on the screen and don't stress not being able to do each move with precision. The idea is to burn calories and, after an hour of Zumba, you will have definitely done that.