Rant: Zumba

I’m gonna get flamed for this, and I don’t care. I can’t stand Zumba. I’ve gone. I’ve done it. I’ve taken the classes and I’ve shimmied and wiggled and it can even be fun. The teacher at my gym is a nice woman, and I like her. But here is where it lost me: The jingle scarves.

I’m serious about weight loss. Dead serious. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds since January when I joined the YMCA and began finally taking better care of myself. This is no fluff-piece from someone who doesn’t know how hard it is to lose weight. I do. Boy howdy, do I ever.

So I went to Zumba. While I have come to love weight-training, I abhor the treadmill and am always looking for new ways to get some good cardio in- and Zumba works. But gradually something changed. Women would be talking in the locker room with a glazed look in their eyes about the glories of Zumba. They would ramble on about super-fantastic it is, and if you gave a non-committal shrug, they would renew their proselytizing efforts with great vigor. Fervor, I believe, is the right word.

Then the outfits started showing up. I got to the gym several times each week, and wear my workout pants and a t-shirt. My iPod tucks under my bra strap, and all is hunky dory. But I see more and more women wearing these specific pants- nylon with zippers topped with dangling ribbons of nylon webbing. ZUMBA is embroidered, without fail, across their butts and on the lanyards. Each pair of pants has at least four of the dangling ribbons, presumably to help you shake your groove thing as you Zumba. Each pair of pants will set you back $60-$75. Not my thing, but whatever.

The proselytizing grew more intense. Several times I was approached about buying Zumba pants- evidently my Target $14 workout pants were gauche. I don’t come to the gym to be hip. I come to lose some of my hips. When I was fifteen, I liked things that brought attention to me. Now, in my thirties, I don’t need dangling ribbons to make myself feel cool. And frankly, I think you look dumb with yours. Especially when 30 other women in the gym are wearing the same pants.

But that was still all tolerable. Then came the jingle scarves.

Maybe they have an official name to the Zumba-ites, but to me they look like something I tied around my hips when I followed the Dead back before the dawn of time. It’s a silky scarf, adorned with jingling, shimmying gold or silver-toned metal disks, that is designed to be tied around the hips while you Zumba. Over your Zumba pants, of course. Presumably, this is also to help you with your hip-shaking and belly-dancing. The clatter is annoying- legions of women with special pants, and pretty, expensive hip-accessories is not why I come to the gym. It’s become a fashion statement instead of a workout.

The last straw was this last Saturday. It was an anniversary party at my gym. And the TV crews were on-hand, for a big exhibition of Zumba. The music was so loud I couldn’t even hear the day-care lady, and it was wall-to-wall people, all trying to catch the latest fad, Zumba. The ladies had shown up en force, with their lanyard pants and their hippy scarves, and the clatter was commendable. I pushed my way to the locker room, just trying to get upstairs to get on an eliptical. To my surprise, once upstairs, it was quiet and empty. All the mayhem was down watching the shaking jingle butts. What a relief.

This may be sour grapes. I mean, so what? Who cares if some people get off on their accessories? Yeah, maybe. But it’s hard enough for those of really fighting the good fight and getting healthy. This crap is a fashion craze that will burn out like headbands and legwarmers before them. Zumba is an aerobics class- nothing more. It’s not the second coming. It’s annoying. Now get out of my way while I go do some cardio in my plain old Target pants.

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42 thoughts on “Rant: Zumba

  1. The more I read your blog the more I think that you and I would get along famously in real life! I’m serious. A Woman in my office teaches Zumba at our local YMCA in her “Off office” hours and she talks about Zumba All. The. Time. She cannot speak of Zumba without shaking her hips and doing that little flamenco cymbal snap thing with her fingers – I always want to shout “Ole” when she does it. Drives. Me. Insane! I’m surprised I haven’t seen the jingle scarves yet!

    Anyway, I hope you don’t think I blogger stalk you, but I really look forward to reading your blog every day and checking in on you and the kids to see how you’re faring. I love your reactions to things and often find myself nodding my head, “Yup, that’s exactly how’d I’d feel/what I’d do”, etc etc…..

  2. I have to agree the attire is a little much. I have seen the pants, but have yet to see the jingle scarves. But I do love zumba. It is a fun class, and I am drenched with sweat by the end of it. I think alot of it has to do with the instructor. We have a couple at our gym, but there is only one that I will actually go to. She makes it fun, the others are total drill sargeants. Zumba is the latest craze, but the clothing line really needs to go.

  3. Ohhhhhh I sooooo get you. I went, I loved, I gagged, then became seriously embarrassed for the ummmm idiots who dressed up. I enjoyed Zumba because it was like going to a club in Mexico w/o the guys staring at your boobs (and I dont’ even have any!). But it was still a work out. I don’ t need to dress up for the other women folk shaking thier bootie. So I don’t go. I might after the baby’s born but not if I have to feel embarrassed for you the whole time. I mean seriously, jingle scarves?

  4. Okay, so I totally love Zumba, but I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had to experience jingles belts or jingle scarves – I think those would scare me. My zumba place is totally chill and laid back and we wear random pants (yoga, running, shorts, whatever), and t-shirts. That’s right regular plain ol’ t-shirts – ohh no, I think the ladies at your gym just gasped thinking about such a fashion faux-pas. Now I just have to hope that we never get an influx of hip (haha, hip – yeah, I crack myself up sometimes), people messing with our casual ‘tude.

  5. Ah, Anna, you bring up a good point. Perhaps it’s not Zumba that I hate, but what its come to represent to me. Because I honestly did enjoy the classes I went to- it just became problematic when it seemed the fitness was supplanted by fashion. Therein lies the problem. Glad you have a chill place to go. :)

    • I will admit – it’s totally the reason I go to the place I do and not to the other place equally close to me that’s on the university campus. Because I KNOW that college girls at the gym do not make me feel empowered about my ability to work out. So I avoid it. I think that’s fine.
      Now, not to scare you – but what’s going to happen is all of a sudden one of your kids will become fascinated by the jingle belts… just warning you. Keep them sheltered of such fashion trends.

  6. This post cracked me up. I haven’t seen the Zumba outfits at my gym, but I have seen one girl in some Turbokick apparel. It’s weird-looking stuff. No thanks. I’ll take my Target pants over those any day.

    • More importantly, can you make those scarves, market them to Zumba women in your area and make money off this inane trend? :)

  7. Tracy, I just checked out your link. NO FREAKING WAY would I wear that to the gym, I mean come on. I’ve heard good things about Zumba, but no way would I “dress-up” to go work out.

  8. I was feeling pretty proud of myself when I upgraded my gym outfit from PJ bottoms and family reunion t-shirt to Target yoga pants and non-family reunion t-shirt. And that’s as far as I think it needs to go.

  9. So totally with you. I just sprayed my computer with soda on the “jingle butts”. I just saw the jingle scarf things show up at my Y. When it gets involved, either in fervor or fashion, then it seems to exclude people. I was hesitant to even try Zumba due to the clique that seemed to travel in that circle. I did eventually try it but couldn’t get into it. Must go clean my keyboard now that I am almost done laughing at “jingle butts”. I love the way you write!

  10. First of all: Congratulations on losing 50 lbs! As one who also works hard to lose weight, I totally get it. I think you rock for working so dang hard.

    And I am totally with you on the fashion. Exercising isn’t SUPPOSED to be about fashion; as long as you have clothing on, you’re good to go. I mean, we’re sweating. Body odor. Putrid personification of exfoliation. Personally, my yoga pants (four years old, also from Target!) with holes are my favorite. And I’m just proud of myself for wearing a sports bra! But I guess it doesn’t matter as much since I exercise at home. Oh, well.

  11. I love Zumba, but I am not a Zumba fanatic. I think our Y has been saved by the fact that there are so many seniors taking classes. We have one instructor who has worn her jingle scarf, once or twice, and that was it. My only complaint is that they don’t give us enough room because the word is getting around and the classes are making it impossible to move.
    Sorry that you are getting edged out by the Zumbanatics! Keep trying and keep up the good work!

  12. Holy cow, I realize I’m reading this post late, but I am so relieved to find there are others who avoid Zumba!

    I have actually FORCED myself to attend multiple classes because the cardio is good for you. I got really tired of dry humping the air and pumping my arms for 60 minutes. I’m a professional Latin and bellydance teacher, and have my own bellydance troupe, and we certainly love us some sparkly, jingly things. But in my book, you earn your coin belts by learning an art form. What passes for dance moves in Zumba is kinda silly, and I hate that people go to these classes and seriously think they are learning some Latin and bellydance moves! What they are learning is how to get a repetitive motion injury because nobody explains to them the safe way to exercise. Too busy air-humping for any technique!

    Also, Zumba zealots, I have learned first hand, you can’t inflict your hobbies on other people, it’s cruelly boring.

    I am signing off right now and seeing if there is some clandestine I Detest Zumba online group I can join to vent.

  13. Hey, I just heard about ‘ribbon pants in zumba’ and so i googled it and your blog came up. Hilarious! thank you for the humor…
    That’s it… take care! And good job loosing all that weight!

  14. Congrats on losing 50 lbs!!!

    Seriously, Exercising is not about fashion. I’m an ex-Zumbanatic. I could deal with the women coming in with their ribbon pants, zumba shirts, and jingle belts, scarfs, or whatever the heck they are. I had enough when the instructor, started handing out bracelets. Sure, it’s a nice gesture to hand out bracelets to regulars or people who are trying really hard. The instructor went up to a girl and clearly said (in a snotty tone) “Here, I only give these to people that are good”, in front of everybody. So now, that Zumba class is no longer a fun dance class, it’s a competition. So now the atmosphere in that class is no longer fun, it’s very awkward.

    Ugh, that instructor just ruined it.

  15. I am a Zumba instructor. I do wear all the zumba pants and tanks because I love them. I do not wear the hip scarves. They are not even sold or made by zumbawear (clothing line for Zumba). People wear things that represent what they love all the time. People wear shirts that have teams they love, so what is the big deal about wearing clothes that say Zumba? People at my gym wear Nike outfits that cost more than my clothes. However, look around at all the stuff people are wearing…….I don’t see why you guys are making such a big deal about the clothes. People can buy a zumba tank for $20….Nike ones are usually more than that. I used to drive a Jeep Wrangler, had a sweatshirt with a Jeep on it. Strange???? No not at all. I don’t care what my students wear to class. I wear my zumba clothes because I like them. I don’t make anyone else buy them.

    • I also love Zumba outfits!! They are so enegetic!! It’s so much different from the normal everyday black and grey office clothes. Even though I’m a complete newbie in Zumba, I bought some Zumbawear already. I would just wear them at home!! I figure if I go on a holiday at the beach or something, I could also wear them. Fun!

  16. I love Zumba because it is a good work out. I don’t care if they are authentic Latin moves as long as it makes me sweat and it’s fun. I don’t own any Zumba clothes but I would wear the tanks and the capris, I just don’t want to spend that much money. And as far as the scarves go, it’s really simple. Zumba is exciting because people make it exciting. I have the dvd’s at home, but I prefer the classes because everyone gets into it and laughs and has a good time. The scarves add to the “excitement” because they’re fun and sassy. I don’t think it’s dorky or crazy for women to want to jazz it up. The class I’ve gone to is about 60 people and some people wear the scarves, some don’t, some people have zumba tanks, some don’t. Some women are young, some are old, but it doesn’t matter. Every gets a good workout and has a good time. That’s what it’s all about! To each their own!

    • I agree with you ladies, as long as no one’s being rude or pushy at other people attending the class who cares what you wear as long as you’re having fun! Honestly I love my hip scarf and I’ve had one for a really long time before zumba, I love belly dancing and many other forms dancing takes around the world. In belly dancing, just like tahitian style dance where they have ornamented belts made from grass and feathers, they’re to emphasize a woman’s hips and her movement. I’m sorry for those that have bad experiences and I hope you can find something that you can enjoy even more. Just don’t let other people ruin your workout happy. Congrats btw on the 50lb weight loss that’s fantastic!

  17. Congrats on the 50 lbs…hard work, I know. So the post has caused some amusement and some controversy. Everyone can wear whatever they want in the gym and out of it and I could care less….well with the exception of jeans around the knees…I find those stupid. I love zumba. In fact, as my skill level progressed, my clothing decreased. I went from the baggy shirt, sneakers and pants to Lululemon fitted crops, hip hop shoes and I’m in the process of creating my own zumba shirt. I stumbled on this blog while looking for instructions. Lighten up people…you’re young women sounding like grouchy old fogies. Be a little more open minded and fun loving. You won’t regret it. Gotta go now and make my zumba shirt and start getting ideas for my Halloween costume. By the way, I’m 62.

  18. Hey, guys…I agree with Hilde that the haters need to lighten up a little bit….The accessories that go with any dance form are created to accentuate movement and exaggerate the flow of physical expression that the body makes. It’s all in good fun. For us Anglos, the jingle-belts help us to learn, by reinforcing sounds, how to move those creaky old hips with more emphasis….and follow the rhythm. The multi-layered tiered skirts of the Colombian cumbia dancers create these incredible waves of multi-colored movement from the slightest of movement in the body. The fringe on Native American clothing creates wings of human arms. It’s all about dance as a celebration… I know a lot of Zumba-zealots (including myself) that have a hard time dragging themselves into ANY cardio class, other than Zumba. Whatever gives us joy in movement is fine with me.

    • Preach it Lisa! You nailed it! It’s almost like a dance ritual by wearing colors and texture to dance! You feel like a new creature!

  19. Sorry you’re having this experience! If it helps at all, I’ve done zumba for a couple of years, and I’ve never had anyone in my class wearing zumba gear except the instructor. I’ve never even heard of those scarves. So take some comfort in the fact that it’s not a fashion show everywhere! I like zumba for the workout, not the pants, and judging by my various classmates’ attire over the years, that’s pretty much the case for most people. Sorry you got stuck with a Stepford Zumba class! Have a great day!

  20. my daughter teaches zumba and she has gone mental zumba is all she cares about she travels to everywhere to get her groove on she neglects husband and children god and family her warbrobe is hettious she worships zumba we have gave up being around her so i HATE zumba my grandchildren r losing the mom they need at this age my daughter has gone as far as fincianial ruin and taking professional naked pictures of herself she is 30 thinking she is 15 and you know beauty fades and dumb is fforever please tell me the phase of zumbzolic will pass it is driving me crazy and the neglect at home i am afraid will end up with hher children being harm from the neglect

    • That is sad. Maybe feeling sexy is something she has always wanted and now that she has it she wants to enjoy it. I do think that is fine but not neglecting your family to do so. Maybe she has an addiction? A lot of ppl become addicted to working out.I think that maybe you guys should all sit down and talk to her about balancing out her schedule. I don’t know what else to say. I guess it is a lot better than her being addicted to drugs, Sorry you are feeling so upset. Look at it this way. At least you know she is healthy and will be around longer for her children. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and she died from that. She was still a good mom but, I would have much rather my her been addicted to Zumba.

  21. Hi Tracy! I can very much appreciate your rant. I share many of the sentiments in your post, with the exception that I love zumba and I’m a zumba teacher! Haha. :) Yes, though I love dancing (all kinds! ballet, hip hop, polka, anything!) and have a lot of fun teaching my Zumba class. But, I generally can’t stand everything else about zumba, the clothes, “zumba image,” and the religious cult like following. :/ There’s nothing special about “zumba” what is special is the music, the unique flair each instructor brings to their class.
    Like you I’m very low maintenance–especially at the gym. I love to go really hard and get drenched with sweat, so it’s beyond me why I should wear anything other than a T-shirt I got for free. I’m sure there are a couple people who come to my classes and are disappointed that I’m not projecting the “Zumba Diva” image, but maybe I change their minds once I kick their butts ;)
    I wouldn’t even use the word Zumba for my class if I didn’t have to. Unfortunately I think it would be kind of like my mom in the grocery store the other day: “Excuse me, where are your facial tissues?” The clerk looks at her blankly. “Where are your Kleenex?” she says, rephrasing herself. The light clicks on in the clerk’s head, “Oh, aisle 5. I’ve never heard that word before–facial tissue.” haha. oh brother.

  22. Hey so I am Zumba instructor :) and I love it but I agree all this fashion added to it has not been very attractive to me. I enjoy teaching, but with my daughter, work, school and BILLS I have no time nor money to be buying the Zumba clothes!! There are some ladies that have left my class because I don’t sell any Zumba gear which sucks!! But the people that have stayed with me have similar problems like I do we all have that economic crisis in our lives so Zumba gear is not in our interest. The people that have stayed with me have learned that I am not the ordinary Zumba Fashion Diva but I can make them sweat like crazy!! :)

    Besides why would you want to wear fancy clothes and then sweat all over it?!

  23. I love Zumba to pieces and will be instructing within a month, and I agree. It’s not that I hate the clothes, but this guy who taught us one time was a walking ad. Zumba damn everything. The shoes, the socks, bracelets, shirts. I do like to match and wear funky colors sometimes because I feel like if I look good, I FEEL good, and therefore, give my ALL in a class as opposed to coming in looking dumpy (by dumpy I mean my drab grey with no effort or care in what I look like) and I do have those days. I think it’s an ego boost thing. If women believe they look hot, they feel hot, and they show it! It’s all about self-esteem, really. I’ve wanted the pants, oh hell yeah, but I’m not paying 50 bucks for one pair. It drives me insane.

  24. Okay time for my own comment on my personal thoughts of Zumba wear. First, I am new to Zumba and do it at home. I first tried doing it in socks, that didn’t work. Than I tried my $220 Nike Shox and my feet kept sliding toward the front as I moved and my arches were in the wrong spot so those didn’t work. I spent litterally HOURS online the last couple of days reading tons of reviews and learning all about work out shoes. Everything from the Zumba shoe to the Boch Wave split sole. I ended up going with this really cool and functional shoe called the Ryka Downbeat. There are silver, orange and pink and have little grip, ortholite in-soles and a spin spot. Along with a cute strap to keep my feet in place and high top for ankle support which is good since I have weak ankles. So yes, I bought cool looking shoes but I really bought them for the functionality (and looks!) I also have started wearing my old Yoga pants from Victoria secret that are cloth with a blue Hurley t-shirt. While doing Zumba in the room where I cut hair (that has a big mirror right behind me) I would spin and see myself and feel so frumpy. It just killed my mood. I just didn’t feel sexy and it was a total mood killer. I have never learned a choreagraphed dance in my life. NEVER. So for someone to say these aren’t real dance moves, well, they really aren’t, they are dance/exercise movements which is great bc I get the best of both worlds and I really enjoy it. I am ordering a pair of Zumba pants and they are so cute. I was at walmart and bought a pair of dri-fit black work out pants that are cute as hell. They are tight and flare out at the bottom. They cost me $13 and I love them. I am actually getting another pair. But I want something fun and funky to make me feel awsome. Maybe it is dumb to some ppl but since I am a hairdresser and have given countless make overs, (some to women who didn’t even care to brush their hair) I know that the way you look will make you feel different. To see those women look in the mirror when I am done and touch their face and stroke their hair, a couple even cried, I know for a fact that they way you look can make you feel different. When I have sweats and a tee on I feel frumpy, when I have a cocktail dress and heals on I feel gorgeous and and when I have on my Nike swooshy shorts and Hanes white tee I want to play basketball so I am sure when I put on my new Ryka downbeats and Zumba pants and tank on I will want to Zumba. It just sucks how expensive the clothes are. But I found a really cute pair of cargo pants on ebay for $34.95 plus $5 and I am paying half and my fiance is paying the other half. I bought the shoes myself but I will wear them casually too so that’s okay.

  25. Great Post :) And also a lot of great responses!!! (and congrats on the weight loss!!!)

    It’s strange because I can relate a little bit to every reply. I am a zumba instructor but have not taught an entire class yet (working up to it), just have taught a few songs in each class for the last few months.

    LUCKILY I have not been to a class with any ‘ZumbaBarbies’. If I end up at one sometime I won’t go back…..because I know exactly what your talking about! And I’ve also never been to a class with the jingle scarves thank goodness! I do think the jingle scarves may be used though to give a different feel or flair to the bellydancing type rhythms.

    I am actually striving to get a few zumba pieces here and there. ONLY BECAUSE I’m tired of wearing my yoga pants which I also use as PJ’s because they’re wearing out too fast! I just had a baby 9 months ago and none of my old clothes fit yet :(
    But another reason is (and I’m sure the zumba company is seriously banking on this), I go a lot of places right before and after zumba since I live in the country. So basically, I would rather people see me in a zumba tank top and sweaty then in my pj’s and sweaty…because I see enough of that at walmart as it is!

    But the main point is….just like everything else in the country, it seems like it’s a lot of ‘it’s all or nothing’. Which is too bad. As long as you’re moving and having fun, no matter what it is, is the only thing that matters :)

  26. I’m a Zumba instructor. I don’t get all glammed up. I do wear the samba pants (not with the logo across my butt), but I don’t wear the hip scarves. Nobody says you have to wear the Zumba clothes. Only one person in my class wears Zumba apparel. If that’s why you hate Zumba, then you’re missing out on a great time. If it’s just because Zumba isn’t for you, then Zumba isn’t for you. Don’t chastise those who do love this workout. BTW, I lost 65 doing Zumba and decided to start teaching it because I love it, but it’s not my world. If you don’t like it, find something else to do, but don’t complain about it.

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