What is fitness and what does it mean to be physically fit? How does that relate to Zumba?
Physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity" (USDHHS, 1996).
That means it is more than being able to run a long distance or lift a lot of weight at the gym. Being fit is not defined only by what kind of activity you do, how long you do it, or at what level of intensity. Although, being able to run long distances or lift a 200 lb weight bar is impressive, these are parts of the whole fitness picture.
Overall fitness is made up of five main components:
Body Composition (body fat percentage)
In order to assess your level of fitness, look at all five components together.
What is cardiorespiratory endurance (CR fitness)?
CR endurance is the ability of the body's circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during sustained physical activity (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Corbin & Lindsey, 1994). To improve your CR endurance, you need to participate in activities that keep your heart rate elevated for a sustained length of time. The activity you choose does not have to be strenuous to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance but it does need to get you to the point where you are breathing heavy.
What is muscular strength?
Muscular strength is the ability of the muscle to exert force during an activity (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Wilmore & Costill, 1994). The key to making your muscles stronger is working them against resistance, whether that be from weights or gravity (focused muscle contraction).
What is muscular endurance?
Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Wilmore & Costill, 1994).
What is body composition?
Body composition refers to the relative amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Corbin and Lindsey,1994). A person's total body weight (what you see on the bathroom scale) may not change quickly, but the bathroom scale does not show how much of that body weight is fat and how much is lean mass. That’s why, when you start an exercise program, you may not see a change in the numbers on the scale, but your percentage of fat to muscle ratio changes. When exercising you burn fat, reducing the percentage of your body weight that comes from fat. At the same time, you increase muscle mass, thus offsetting the weight lost from fat reduction. The numbers on the scale may not change but you clothing size will. Overtime, the scale will reflect the new healthier you.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint (USDHHS, 1996 as adapted from Wilmore & Costill, 1994). Good flexibility in the joints can help prevent injuries through all stages of life.
Now lets look at how Zumba can help you get fit:
CR endurance - elevated heart rate for a sustained period of time. Check.
Muscle Strength - working muscles against resistance. We create resistance in Zumba by actively recruiting various muscle groups against gravity or using toning sticks in Zumba Tone. Check.
Muscle Endurance - the ability of the muscle to continue to perform without fatigue. Have you noticed lately that it takes a bit longer before you start getting tired? Check.
Body Composition - the percentage of fat to lean body mass. Your pants getting a little loose around the seat? Check.
Flexibility - range of motion at the joints. Are you finding that your arm circles are getting a little larger? You find it easier to bend down to tie your shoes? Check.
Wow. And some people think all we do is dance!
Peace, Love, Zumba
I started a new warm up today: If you wanna dance with me from Zin 37. Great energy and I love the lyrics at the begining: "You gotta love yourself, respect yourself, check yourself, don't wreck yourself." To me Zumba is a celebration of life and a celebration of the only thing we truly own in this world, our body. We tend to spend so much time being critical of what we look like, "wrecking" ourselves: my butt is too big, my waist is too fat, oh my goodness, look at the flab on my arms!, instead of celebrating the gift our body is. I think we need to take the words from Dance with me to heart: learn to love yourself, respect yourself, check yourself and don't wreck yourself with the negatives. Need to make a change? Then love yourself and take more Zumba classes, or go for more walks. Respect your body and make food choices that fuel it and don't just fill the empty spot in your stomach. Then check back often to see if you are 'loving' yourself. Our bodies are a gift, no matter your size or shape, it is yours, celebrate it! Peace, Love, ZUMBA!