Strong by Zumba Brings a New Meaning to Cardio Dance

Over the years, Zumba has become widely known for its low-impact cardio dance routines and with my lack of rhythm, I have never personally enjoyed its workouts. So, when OU CHAARG brought Strong by Zumba to campus as its first weekly workout, I was a bit hesitant to attend. But, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see all of my favorite CHAARG girls [and test out a new workout!], so I showed up anyway, but still not quite sure what to expect. 

Photo by Hannah Morris.

Our workout was led by Amber Newlon, a frequent CHAARG guest instructor, so I already knew the energy in the room would be HIGH. What I didn’t expect, however, were high intensity moves, like runners lunge jumps. I mean, after all, this was supposed to just be Zumba. But, I could not have underestimated a workout more than I underestimated this one.

Despite its name, Strong by Zumba is almost the complete opposite of what you’d expect from a typical Zumba class. Instead, the workout combines bodyweight kickboxing-style muscle conditioning moves with intense cardio bursts [yes, even including burpees]. Throughout the class, we transitioned from jumping cardio to strength moves, like the two minute and thirty second-long pushup challenge [which I promise, is harder than it sounds!]. To top it off, the last section isolated our obliques and booty, getting our muscles to that ~shaking~ point that lets you know how sore you’re really going to be the next day.

Where the workout stays true to the Zumba brand, though, is in the way each move syncs perfectly with the beat of the music. Strong by Zumba partnered with music producers like Timbaland and Steve Aoki to curate a playlist of exclusive tracks that instructors can use in their routines. So, instead of counting reps and worrying about pace, all you have to focus on is matching the beat of the music.

Photo by Hannah Morris.

My aversion to Zumba classes quickly diminished as I began to get the hang of listening to the music and knowing how to match the beat and when to change moves. Not only was my heart rate up and my muscles fatigued, but I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time! There was something so satisfying about knowing that I was getting such a good workout in, and the emphasis on matching the music even made me [of all people!] feel like I had at least a little bit of rhythm inside me!

Click here to find a Strong by Zumba class near you!

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As a senior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University and a passionate feminist, I created Freely Femme as a way to use my love for storytelling to highlight some of the most inspirational women in my personal life and beyond.

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