According to Wikipedia Zumba is an aerobic fitness program created by Miami-based dancer and choreographer Beto Perez and two entrepreneurs, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. It originated in Colombia in the 1990s and is taught by some 20,000 instructors in 35 countries. So its a company basically that sells a product through franchises. Aerobics has had many franchises over the years, one of the biggest being Les Mills. question.
As you know I despise aerobics and all the classes that go with it. I'm not against aerobic exercise if you need to move, but doing it to become health or loose weight is downright ridiculous. If you've been dragged into it, its not your fault. You could say its not the instructors fault either, as they've just been taught that its healthy. However, if they're "teaching" you something they really should understand the basics about human physiology. If they did, would they still be selling you such a dodgy exercise?
Zumba is the work of the devil, perpetuating the age old myth that aerobic exercise helps us prevent heart disease (amongst others) whilst also allowing us to become the lean humans that we desire. If you've not already read my previous post on the 'Exercise Con'
As the post I've just mentioned states: Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the founder of aerobic training has finally admitted that he was wrong. He started all the unsubstantiated theories of 'aerobic' training, however 25 years later further research has shown that there is "no correlation between ‘aerobic’ endurance performance and health, longevity, or protection against heart disease." He also admits that 'aerobic' training does carry with it a great risk of injury, and that "gross overuse activities such as running may be so damaging to the body as to be considered carcinogenic."
Do you think you can really trick your body into loosing fat by just moving about more? If you think you can good luck. We are a fantastic design that any car owner would love to copy for their next purchase. Imagine that, a car that got more economical the less we filled it up and the harder we used it. If the human body could be copied to a car it would be the oil industries worst nightmare. The harder and faster you drove the more the new metabolism engine management system would slow down to increase fuel economy. You don't want to fill it up, no worry. The metabolism engine management system will simply slow down the rate fuel is burned and increase its ability to store what you do give it. I'd buy one and who wouldn't.
Stressful exercise can have many bad effects. Don't get me wrong I'm not anti exercise it just depends on the individual participant and the type of exercise prescribed. A few weeks back I got challenged on twitter about my take on why I was so negative about running. I'm not totally against running and I stated that "if its something you do for fun, then feel free, my problem is with selling it as an answer to obesity and heart health issues." If you love it then go ahead as long as your prepared to look after your body in every other aspect to compensate. I ride motorbikes and bike which means I have to eat well and rest well, I am under no illusions that riding makes me fit or lean.
To get better at running we have to become more efficient which means slowing down our metabolism. Overtime we are able to complete the same distances/time while using less fuel (calories). This mean that to get the same effect you originally had, you'll need to run further or harder, maybe both. Thats when injury usually strikes. Doesn't sound quite so attractive now does it.
Back when I worked at Globo Gym a woman ran on the treadmill everyday holding hand-weights. She wasn't overweight (she didn't look particularly healthy though) but I got told that she had been at one point and running had got her slimmer. Rumor had it that she did a half marathon each day. She certainly had the look of Paula Radcliffe, lack of muscle mass and good stores of intramuscular fat. She looked withered, tired and on the verge of serious ill-health. Before you ask, yes I did talk to her, but she wasn't interested.
Before I started studying I did a serious amount of cardio myself and used to see the same woman in my gym everyday. She, like the woman mentioned above didn't work as her husband had a good enough job to allow her to train for hours each day. Sure enough she did loose weight, her lack of time constraint meant she could up the time she trained each day, so she continually fought against becoming more efficient. She suffered injuries such as shin splints and sprains but would just swap from the treadmill to the recumbent bike to keep up her incessant calorie burning. (we work via chemicals though not through actually burning these calories).
I can't deny that I was there doing 4 hours a day as part of my infamous year of exercise research project that left me chronically fatigued, depressed and with no weight lost. Interestingly, the last time I bumped into the lady she looked dreadful and had been forced to give up exercise due to being diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME). As this article isn't about ME I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions but its well documented that excessive exercise depresses our immune function. Athletes often take a considerably greater time to recover from viruses. In my opinion she had done what I was on the verge of doing and then set about correcting. She had burned herself out and lowered her metabolism drastically low via extreme exercise and low calories.
Matt Stone has a great quote in which he states;
"if you want to get to where you can exercise 10 hours a day without losing any weight, burn fewer calories at rest AND during exercise...then I highly recommend endurance exercise. It is unparalleled for making your body a fat storage machine."
Yes their is an initial benefit if you've never exercised before, its just that the body adapts to match the demand quickly. Our body is designed to cope with the demands of stress, running a marathon millions of years ago would of been a sign that something was seriously wrong. Think about it this way, your eating a set amount of food each day (remember from yesterday, most people fluctuate a lot in their intake). Then out of the blue you decide to take up running and expect your body to unquestionably just burn the weight off you.
Think about it logically, does it not make sense that the body will react to this stressor by protecting itself? I mean come on folks, you already have some body fat, an indicator that somethings going wrong in the body. And you seriously expect it to drop that body fat because your pushing it harder and making it more stressed? I proved with my 5000 calorie a day diet when I worked at Globo Gym, that I didn't become fat from overeating. I also did the same to my first boss, (the one before the evil ones) and despite my brave move of putting my boss on a super-sized diet she didn't get fat. I also stopped her busting her ass in the gym and surprise surprise she ended up in the best shape of her life (I still have the testimonial that mentions being health, energised, able to eat normal amounts of food and being happy, all while doing nothing other than eating lots and doing rehab exercises).
If we don't eat enough the body keeps reserves to make sure it can survive. Equally if we up our activity levels our body moves swiftly to protect us. If we decide to run 10K our body recognises this and makes contingency plans to cope with the dramatic loss of energy. If we do it continually its ready for us and makes the adjustments it needs to survive. Remember a lot of exercisers hit their body twice as hard doing the exercise program whilst also starting the low calorie, low everything diet.
I'll get a bit more technical in my next exercise post as I don't want you to think I'm completely against exercise. I just want you to see that its a little more complicated than completing the "race for life", (never has a run had a more apt title) or blasting yourself in aerobics. I've always been the weird trainer that "lets clients get away with doing very little exercise.". What I'm actually doing is recognizing that their body is a system of systems that needs carefully balancing and not brutal attempts to force it in to submission.