Sweat: Instructor Guide to Dance - Zumba

Sweat: Instructor Guide to Dance - Zumba

In the third of our weekly series on dance, Gymbox legend and dance instructor extraordinaire that is James Dawkins, shares with us the joy of Zumba and the dance styles that "not only keep you fit, but helps to create that sense of a community amidst busy city life" he says. Get ready to Zumba.

’Ditch the workout and join the party’. That’s Zumba’s motto and boy is it true. Every class I take, regardless of how busy or long a day may have been, class seems like a party from the moment I hit play on my mix. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba’s choreography incorporates styles such as hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa and merengue.

The story behind Zumba is great. In the mid 2000s, fitness instructor Beto Perez forgot his aerobics music playlist for a class he was teaching. He went to his car, listened to some traditional salsa and merengue music – and improvised a class using this non-traditional aerobics music. Boom, here we are some 14 years later and we have the most successful fitness program in the world. Approximately 14 million people take Zumba classes every week in over 140,000 locations, across more than 185 countries.

Zumba is a massive part of my life, and has helped me to grow hugely as a person. How come? I come from a dance background and have always loved fitness, but having fun and getting fit at the same time is something I rarely found in the gym world. One evening I got fed up of pumping iron, you know it: same workout, different day. I heard a load of noise coming from the studio. So I dropped my weights and took a sneak peep. I saw a bunch of people dancing, sweating and having fun. The following week I thought I would try the class, never could I have imagined this would then inspire a new career and passion for dance fitness. Three years on, I love this fitness concept even more today then I did back then.

But what are the benefits? Not only does the class keep you fit and in shape, it helps to create that sense of a community amongst busy and fast pace city gyms. Every day I watch people grow in fitness and confidence, assisting them on their way to their fitness goals, all with a smile on their face from start to finish. Because your having so much fun in Zumba, you forget you’re actually working out. And as a result, achieve more.

Here are my top three dance styles in Zumba


In many styles of salsa dancing, as a dancer shifts their weight by stepping, the upper body remains level and nearly unaffected by the weight changes. Weight shifts cause the hips to move. Arm and shoulder movements are also incorporated, not only for fitness, but to look visually impressive. Salsa music is infectious, and makes you want to move your hips!


Merengue is a style of Dominican music and dance and although the tempo of the music may be frenetic, the upper body is kept majestic and turns are slow, typically four beats/steps per complete turn. Also great for conditioning those arms


Reggaeton blends musical and movement influences from Jamaican dancehall and Trinidadian soca with those of Latin America, such as salsa, bomba, Latin American hip hop, and electronica. This is my personal favourite, the bass the loud and the moves are simply sexy! Reggaeton allows you to explore your hips to a whole new levels, using twerkin’ techniques to add even more spice.

So don’t be shy, get your Zumba on! Book yourself a spot on our class schedule.