If you were to use one word, to sum up the most popular exercise trend in the UK at the moment it would, without doubt, be Zumba. The Zumba programme has literally stormed into the UK over the past 12-18 months and all fitness centres worth their salt have joined the Zumba Fitness Party.
In the unlikely event that you haven’t yet heard of Zumba yet, let us explain exactly what this programme is about. Zumba fuses traditional exercise to music classes with Latin dance moves to create an experience never before seen in an exercise studio. By combining Latin inspired music with conventional exercise and dance music, the Zumba is helping millions of people to get in shape and have fun along the way. Not bad since the Zumba concept was created by accident in the mid-’90s because the founder, Beto Perez had accidentally forgotten his music cd for the class he was due to teach.
Currently, there are seven different types of Zumba class but the most popular by a mile is the classic or basic Zumba format. Instructor training for the basic Zumba programme is split into two categories, basic 1 and basic 2. Zumba basic 1 focuses on the four core rhythms of Zumba including the merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaeton. Zumba basic 2 follows on from these rhythms and develops instructor skills in the belly dance, flamenco, tango, samba choreography. Other Zumba programmes include:
- Zumba Gold which is specifically designed for the older adult
- Zumbatomic has been created for children aged between four and twelve
- Zumba Toning includes a range of body sculpting and conditioning exercises with a Latin twist
- Aqua Zumba is described by Zumba themselves as the “pool party” for all ages
There is no question that the Zumba movement that has occurred over the past year or so is a positive one, especially if it encourages people to become more active. There are however a few words of warning we would issue to those who are considering becoming a Zumba Instructor.
It may surprise you to know that the Zumba Instructor Training certificate is not actually a qualification and that it does not sit on either the National Qualification Framework (NQF) or the Qualification Credit Framework (QCF). This raises some serious issues for those teaching Zumba to members of the public because technically these instructors are not ‘qualified’ to teach exercise (emphasis on exercise). Sure, Zumba instructors are licensed to operate under the Zumba brand and Trademark but without any nationally accredited and recognised qualifications, they are not qualified to teach exercise or prescribe exercise.
Those operating in the health and fitness industry must undertake rigorous training and assessment which conforms to the National Occupational Standards. These standards are set by technical experts in the area of public health, exercise and fitness to ensure that the content of the qualifications is relevant, scientifically viable, safe and in the interest of the public. Unfortunately, the Zumba programme for all its worth is not scrutinised to the same extent and as such is less rigorous. Additionally, the Zumba programme does not include any study in the area of Anatomy and Physiology and so instructors who only hold the Zumba Instructor Training certificate are unlikely to have the same level of understanding in this area as their counterparts who complete recognised fitness instructor or personal trainer courses and qualifications.
In order to address this discrepancy, many Zumba instructors are opting to complete an accredited exercise to music course or qualification to ensure that they have the minimum qualification required to teach exercise in the UK. By completing this qualification these individuals are also helping to ensure that they are not in breach of any of the terms of their insurance (public liability or professional indemnity) which will almost certainly necessitate that the insured individual holds the necessary ‘qualifications’ to operate in their field.