23 Expert Zumba Instructors Share Their Best Tips for Zumba Beginners
“Ok, I guess I am going to be a bit early, I really wonder how this is going to turn out.” Those are just some of the words that flutter through your mind as you nervously glance at the clock in your car. You have been at the stoplight for what seems to be an eternity and your thoughts are running wild. You are a ball of excitement, nervousness and wonderment, as you are on your way to your first ever Zumba® dance workout class.
You have done your own research into what is Zumba® and it seems this is something right up your alley. You have also gotten glowing recommendations from friends who cannot get enough. Everything about it sounds positive and this is something you definitely want to do; however at this moment, you honestly do not know what to expect.
Is it hard? Will I be dancing on rhythm? What If I have 2 left feet? Will I enjoy it? These, along with a million other questions are common for first timers, as you are going off into a brand new and exciting new world.
For all the rookies out there, I have compiled a guide with the advice and tips of 23 amazing expert Zumba® Instructors. Below you can read their thoughts and recommendations for beginners and what they generally should expect to experience in class for the first time.
Name: Gisella Ferreira
Title: Samba Queen USA & Zumba® Instructor
You have nothing to lose except your worries and lbs!
Plus I’m willing to bet you will have the time of your life!
Come with an open mind and heart and be ready to shake it and sweat like never before.
What I always say at the beginning of my class is:
“Have Fun! Turn off your mind and get into your body.
Take it at your own pace, feel free to modify movements to better suit your needs, if any move does not feel or look like a good idea for your body, to prevent injury, just modify.
Don’t try to dance perfect, just move your body to the beat and enjoy.”
What if you feel you have no rhythm or 2 left feet, can you Zumba®?
YES! You can and you should. Zumba® will help you improve your sense of rhythm and if you feel lost, just look to your instructor…they will help guide you and help you find the beat. And honestly, nobody is watching you. There is no pressure. Zumba® is about smiling & dancing with your spirit and whole body.
So bring it! Bring your spirit out to play and enjoy the moment.
What if you feel you don’t “look good” or are too fat to go Zumba®…
Nope! Zumba® is not about that life…It’s for everybody, anyone can do it and it’s not about looking good, though you are likely to burn a lot of calories and feel and look your best the more you dance.
Zumba® is about moving your body to the music and letting it all go on the dance floor.
It usually takes a new student 2-3 classes to feel like they “get” the dances and new moves. So cut yourself some slack, you will get it!
The more you come to Zumba® class the more fun it gets and you are likely to get hooked and to develop a healthy lifestyle!
Name: Sandy Campanella
Title: Sandy Campy Fitness
Dance first, think second. Allow your body to connect to the music and, most importantly, have fun. Everyone has rhythm–If you can walk, you have rhythm. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it helps to start with the feet, with the steps. Then, when you’re feeling more confident, start moving your arms. Be patient; let go of your inhibitions; don’t judge yourself. Don’t be afraid to modify any steps that don’t work for you and your body. Make it your own and dance like there’s nobody watching!
Name: Christie “CJ” Bilin
Title: ZIN Certified Zumba® Fitness Instructor in Bergen County, NJ
The best advice I can give Zumba®-First Timers is to KEEP ON MOVING! Zumba® Fitness is easy to follow and repetitive, but sometimes moves come up that students can’t seem to catch. No worries! You don’t need to look like a super star, Zumba® is meant to be fun and healthy! Don’t stress over a dance move or do a move that doesn’t feel right! Instead, a merengue walk-in-place, jumping jacks or doing squats for a few counts is the best way to keep moving until the next dance move comes! Also, always watch the instructor for non-verbal cues! Zumba® Instructors point and tap in the direction you need to be going to keep up. The more classes you take, the more you’ll start to remember the dance moves, which allows you to jump higher, squat lower and get the maximum results from class! The music is also a great way to learn what dance move is coming next. Zumba® Fitness has a science behind it, if you did the “Beto Shuffle” during the first chorus, than you are most likely going to be doing the same dance move when the chorus plays again. Repetition is a huge part of Zumba®! If you haven’t heard of the “Beto Shuffle” yet, don’t worry… you WILL learn it in your first class and love it! Always remember, Zumba® class is a no judgment zone. The key to enjoying class and getting the best work out is to keep moving, let loose, enjoy the music and dance like no one’s watching!
Name: Wil-son Williams
Title: Zumba® Instructor
1.) Contact the facility in advance and ask what you should bring. Ask what footwear they recommend.
2.) Introduce yourself to the instructor, let them know you are new. Inform them of any concerns you feel.
3.) Wear comfortable workout gym clothes. Wear a removable, extra top for temperature control. Take off if too hot, replace if chilly.
4.) Position yourself towards the back center of the room for optimum vantage point.
5.) Do your best to follow the teacher, however freely substitute any unfamiliar moves with your own personal grooves.
6.) Feel free to take breaks as needed. Stay hydrated.
7.) Focus on enjoying the music, stay loose, be childlike and positive.
8.) Measure your success in sweat and calories burned rather than dancing perfectly. Only practice makes perfect, even then nobody’s perfect but we still get totally fit in the process.
9.) After class give the instructor feedback on what you needed more of and what you needed less of.
10.) Remember to make sure you have all your belongings before you leave.
Name: Sara Vessichelli (aka SaraSmileZumba)
Title: Licensed Zumba® Instructor
If you find yourself walking into a Zumba® class for the first time this year you are not alone. As an instructor I have been seeing many new faces in my classes. The reason I love teaching this program is because every class feels like a true dance party. You get to lose yourself in the music and the movements. The best thing about taking a Zumba® class for the first time is that there is no right or wrong way to do the movements. I always tell my new students to focus on the feet because the feet move you and most importantly, to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you CAN’T do. As long as you are moving you are working your body. Also, I always start my classes by announcing that every participant is going to look different, and that is what Zumba® is all about. Everyone comes to class and brings their own personality and style to the dancing. The beauty of Zumba® is that you can do every movement at a level in which YOU feel comfortable. I guarantee you will leave each class smiling, full and energy and confidence. So what are you waiting for? Join the party today!
Name: Hadeel Saud (kabten Ludi)
Title: Zumba® Fitnees & Biomechanics Trainer
My advice is get your balance first. When you stand and look to the feet of instructor, look at how she or he stands. You also do not need to do all the moves perfectly as you will be enjoying the class. So just enjoy music and it will tell your body what you have to do 🙂
Looking for the Best Dance Shoes for Zumba?
See The Top Selection for 2015!
Name: Angel Faulk “The Fitness Angel”
Title: Fitness Expert, creator of the Fit to Praise DVD and Fit to Praise inspirational clothing line
Starting a new Zumba® class? I love having beginners and this is the advice I always share.
- Make sure you are wearing comfortable, cool clothing and sneakers that have enough support, but are light and smooth enough on the bottom to twist and turn.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the class and have a hand towel for wiping sweat.
- Don’t worry about getting the moves “just right”. It usually takes at least 3 classes before you learn the choreography and basic Zumba® moves. Just enjoy the music, relax, and keep moving!
In Zumba® there are no mistakes, only unexpected solos!
- Arrive at least 5 minutes early to introduce yourself to the instructor. We want to know your name and give you a proper greeting! If it’s an independent class you made need a few extra minutes to sign a waiver and pay for the class.
- If you enjoyed the class, join your instructor’s social media pages and email list. It’s the best way to stay motivated, informed, participate in special events, and more!
- Lastly, invite your friends so they can enjoy the benefits of Zumba® Fitness with you!
Name: Mariah Walker.
Title: Certified Personal Trainer/ Zumba® Instructor.
For any Zumba®-First Timers I would first off say to go into class with a positive attitude. I have been through the whole weight loss transformation and one thing I learned more than anything was to always have a positive mindset, because the moment you say “I can’t”, “I’ll look bad”, or “people will judge me”, is the moment you’ve already set yourself up for failure! Next is to HAVE FUN, that is what Zumba® is all about, dancing and feeling the music while burning calories! Also, it is choreographed based on what the instructor wants so DO NOT get discouraged if you don’t catch on the first time just keep coming, and again keep that positive mindset!
Name: Brenda Rivera
Title: Zumba® Instructor
For any newbie talking a Zumba® Fitness class for the first time can be very intimidating. It is my job as a licensed instructor to make them feel welcomed. Here are the things I do to make them feel welcomed and keep them coming back for more.
- Not all Zumba® Fitness classes are the same. The basic thing is that my goal is to take you on a dance fitness trip around the world, salsa, samba, merengue, reggaton, Bollywood, – a little bit of everything will be heard!
- No you do not have to be a dancer to come to my class. We are not backup dancers for JLo but we do channel that awesome feeling. Channel your inner dancer.
- Leave your inhibitions at the door. For one hour you get to leave your stress, worries, fears at the door. Zumba® Fitness is a party, don’t worry about anyone watching you – we are too busy shaking it to worry!
- Don’t worry about the choreography. The steps will come later. Step touch maybe your friend for a while and that is ok – keep moving. The more you move the more you calories you will burn – so shake it. It ok to keep it low in the beginning and work your way up in intensity!
- Sing if you know the words, clap hard and shake what your momma gave you. Let go and have fun!
- Lastly – Smile!!!!! What other workout allows you to smile and burn calories at the same time!
Name: ZES Abraham Hernandez
Title: Zumba® Education Specialist
You will have the time of your life, you will feel like you are at a party, so enjoy, have fun, don’t stop, keep moving, don’t be shy, be silly.
If necessary take breaks or just slow the pace, keep yourself hydrated at all times.
Be on time to do the warm up to prevent any injury, at stay at the end for the cool down for the same reason.
I’m sure after your first Zumba® experience you will want more! 🙂
Name: Kelly Bullard
Title: Zumba® Education Specialist
An open mind is the best possible thing to bring with you to a Zumba® class for the first time. Anything can happen, and every Zumba® class is a unique experience! I suggest to make your way to the middle or near the front of the room, so you can see the instructor and their cues (as standing in the back often can be difficult to see). Accepting the fact it is OKAY to dance the moves your own way (it might be a solo), or going the opposite direction as everyone else (that might be your style spin you put on the moves) is perfectly acceptable in a Zumba® class! It may take 2 or 3 classes for you to get a grasp on the moves, but once you get through your first class.. the hardest part is over! Wearing lightweight clothing you feel comfortable moving in is important. Also wearing supportive shoes that do not have a lot of tread on the bottom will help your feet dance happily! Also be sure to bring a water bottle, a sweat towel, and an open heart to embrace the many styles of Latin and International music and moves in your first Zumba® class.
Name: Suzi Fevens
Title: Zumba® Instructor
The most important thing is to have fun! It can be difficult to follow everything the first few classes so do your best, and if you don’t know what to do, just do something – even if that something is marching on the spot and then jump back in when you are ready.
Tell your instructor you are new, they might have some tips for you on where to stand, who to follow if you can’t see him/her, etc. and generally what to expect during their class.
Be sure to wear clean sneakers (sneakers that people wear outside typically are not allowed in Zumba®, or other fitness classes), bring water, maybe a sweat towel and wear clothes that will keep you cool and are easy to move in.
Everyone is always worried that other people will laugh at them but honestly, nobody has time to worry about what other people are doing. They are too busy following the instructor and worrying about themselves!
Name: LaTonya Rounds
Title: Zumba® Instructor
Twitter: @225 Dance Fitness
Find a class you like and consistently attend. Put on your dancing shoes, grab a towel and a water bottle..Don’t stress or worry about learning the moves the first few classes (no one does). Just enjoy the music, move your body and sing along! After all Zumba® fitness is a PARTY!
Name: Amanda Welti
Title: Zumba® Fitness Instructor (Zin™ Member #5125) Since April 2007
Website 2: welti123.zumba.com
Zumba® Fitness is a Latin dance based Fitness class for all levels. This Group Fitness class caters to the non dancer, the non exerciser and specifically those who have never set foot in a gym and have been reluctant to over the years for various reasons. Its fun exercise in disguise. You get to move to pulsating rhythms in a party like non intimidating atmosphere. The class is predominantly music driven and the focus is on having fun. All the steps are easy to follow because they are taught in layers so that you can enjoy the music without feeling left out or left footed. The philosophy of Zumba® Fitness is to change lives one healthy beat at a time. We incorporate rhythms such as Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia, Reggaeton and other international styles. The songs are designed to tell a story and within that story we bring in basic steps and create simple combinations to stimulate and add flavor to our classes. If you have never tried a Group Fitness class and you love to dance or you have never had the courage to take a dance class, Zumba® Fitness is the best place to start burning calories. It is a gateway to a healthier lifestyle and it builds communities because in every Zumba® Class we spread the Zumba® Love !
Name: Judy Quint
Title: Zumba® Instructor
My best advice for Zumba® First-Timers in 2015 is to just show up to class with a Smile and a Water Bottle and an attitude that “I can do this!”. If you love music, dance in the shower or even as you are driving the car that means you like to move! In your first class all you need to do is move-step touch side to side and march in place. Don’t worry about getting it right or even “getting it” just keep moving! You will soon realize that even though you are dancing you are really working out all your muscle groups and especially your brain-the sweat will pour down and you will sparkle!
Name: Ida Henricksen
Title: Zumba® Instructor
Take Zumba® to your own pace ! Make sure you are close to the instructor and ready to follow the instructor .
Zumba® was created by a Latin flavor Expect to hear and dance salsa songs in Spanish main music will be salsa , merengue , cumbia and reggetom .. The most important thinks is to be free and move and do not think You can not dance , it is not hard it will came easy after a few lessons .. Zumba® Will shape your whole body and will make you happy.
Name: Mary Massey
Title: Certified Trainer and Licensed Zumba® Instructor
We all know that going into a new environment can be very intimidating. This is especially true when it comes to trying a Zumba® class for the first time. In the six years that I have been instructing I have heard it all from “I have two left feet” to “I can’t move my hips”. There was a lady who was overweight and through gentle encouragement I finally convinced her to try the class. She lost 130lbs in her first two years. So here’s the deal and I wish everyone who is curious about trying Zumba® reads this.
There is no right or wrong! A Zumba® class, when led properly by an instructor who truly knows how to connect with her participants, is a safe environment. I guarantee that no one is looking at you, no one is mocking you. And as long as you are wearing deodorant no one cares because they’re too focused on themselves and trying to follow the steps with their own two left feet. My advice is to try different instructors. One example I like to use is when you go shopping for the perfect pair of jeans. You might try a size 6 from several brands but they all fit differently until you try that size 6 that seems to have been custom-made for you. And when you do, that’s when the real magic happens. You find the right instructor, the right class and the right people. The friendships born in a Zumba® Fitness class will last forever. So give it a try because you’re just a few steps away from finding your own inner diva. One who will be quick to welcome the new awkward and intimidated participant and say “I was like you once, welcome to Zumba®!”
Name: Jaylin Allen
Title: Owner of Bootique Fitness
Everyone is just here to have fun and get a great workout – nothing else matters. We call it free style whether you create a move on accident or on purpose – and it’s all good. There are no mistakes. Just move and have a good time!
Name: Stefanie Lino
Title: Zumba® Instructor
My best advice for Zumba® first timers is to let loose and have fun! You do not need to have dance experience to take a Zumba® class. You can have two left feet and still get a great workout. Just follow your instructor and let the music be your guide. If you are still a little nervous about taking a class, just show up a few minutes before and voice your concerns to your instructor. I promise you, we are here to help! Do not be afraid to ask questions or even ask us to demonstrate a step or two. The more classes you take, the more confident you will be. Before you know it, you will want to be dancing in the front row! Other tips would be to wear comfortable sneakers and to drink plenty of water before and after the class as you will be sweating a ton.”
Name: Kristy Baker
Title: Licensed Zumba® Instructor
Zumba® is all about fun, movement and feeling the music! Bring water, a towel and a SMILE! It takes a few times to get used to the moves, so be patient with yourself and give it a few classes. If you mess up a move and do your own thing, It’s OKAY! Call it an accidental solo and keep moving! Make sure you work at your own pace. I recommend getting the leg movements down first, and then adding arms when you are comfortable. Now go rock that class, beautiful!!
Name: Richard Gormley
In my first Zumba® class I was the guy going left while everyone else was going right. Having zero dance background or experience I was at the back feeling like I was the only one who had no idea what was going on. I was hooked by the incredible energy not only from the instructor but by the other students around me and haven’t stopped since!
Name: Dr. Kari L. Jordan, PhD aka “Dr. Zumba”
Title: Adjunct Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Licensed ZIN Member and AFAA Certified Group Exercise Instructor
My advice to new instructors is to remember the class is not about them–it is about the participants. Zumba Fitness classes aren’t dance classes or a time for the instructor to show off his/her skills. It’s a time to create an atmosphere that promotes health and wellness, and most of all, FUN! If you miss a step here or there it’s not a big deal, so don’t sweat those moments. Have fun and keep your followers wanting more!
Name: Sarah Palencia
Title: Zumba Instructor
My Best advice for Zumba First -Timers would have to be to remember to have fun! Sure its scary trying ANYTHING new for the first time, but everyone is focused on the instructor and trying to figure out the moves. And everyone can relate to you. We were ALL first timers at one point 😉 I always try to encourage new participants to bring a friend, there’s strength in numbers right? That way you can laugh with eachother and have impromptu booty shakes with a familiar face…or butt. As a Zumba Instructor we are there to help you have fun, we don’t care if you cant get a certain move right, we are just happy you came to our class in the first place! WE are the nervous ones trying to ensure you have a fun time! So get outta your head and step out of your comfort zone just a lil’. You will be glad you did!!