Giselle Roque deEscobar, Beto Perez
Year Released: 2002

Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance

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So as a morbidly obese woman I thought I'd try Zumba and I'm going to write my review as I'm sitting here at my table still huffing and puffing, still sweating in my ears, still with my heart pounding out of my chest....The verdict:

I'll do it again. Multiple times a week, more than likely. In a nut shell the actual workout was fun, semi-easy to follow and short. The music was fun and the instructor gave variations of the hip swaying that those skinny women were doing so quickly.

Now, out of the nutshell and into the nitty gritty...

There are definetely some positives about the video and some negatives. A lot of what I say, should you choose to take it to heart, will also depend on how you feel about your own body, where you are in your weight loss endevors and your place in your life right now, right this minute. I'm sitting here as a 279 pound (127 kilo) (yeah, that's what the scale said this week at my weigh in, so there is my starting point) woman who has, in the past, dropped 72 pounds and has, since her pregnancy, gained most of it back. I am also a woman though, who used to work out in the gym 3 to 4 times a week and did occasional classes. This gives me the wisdom to know not to judge a workout by your first attempt and that it will get a) better b) get easier c) become more fun. Really, huff huff, it will. I am also a woman who has been dragging her feet to begin, again. I am also a woman who ate two (large) cookies for breakfast and almost let that be an excuse not to workout because "I already started the day shitty". I know we're all in different places, all over the weight loss map, so keep that in mind while reading.

So lets start with the negatives and get that out of the way so we can end on a positive note.

1) the intro to the dance steps - it was LENGTHY and intimidating. Seriously, I watched the intro first and practiced the steps and about 10 steps into it I was thinking "for Gods sake how many steps are they going to throw at me in a 20 minute bacis, beginners workout". It almost intimidated me to the point of turning it off and not even moving onto the actual video.

2) workout space - you don't need a lot of space but this would be a hell of a lot easier to do on a concrete or wooden floor. I have carpet and your feet just don't slide as easily as you would like them to.

3) some of the moves, even when broken down, are not for beginners. There was one combination that tripped me up the entire time, and I like to think that I can keep a beat and follow simple steps.

4) If you are not used to working out or are just beginning I can see how it would discourage you from trying it again. Your body is flopping, sloshing, shaking, flapping and sweating, all the whilst the little dancers on TV are moving around like tazmanian devils with the greatest of ease. That's why Richard Simmons was so damned successful. He had real people who were struggling with weight showing you how to move. It made you feel safe and secure and comfortable with your body because it made you think "if that un-thin person can do it, well then so can I". If you have never worked out and are not necessarily comfortable in your own skin then it can be off-putting.

And that's really the only negatives I have about the video. 4. And some may not apply to everybody. Not bad at all for a workout, eh?

And now...the positives

1) It is (or will be after a few more times) as fun as it looks on TV. I am into dance music and have always wanted to learn latin dances and this teaches you some basic moves. Once you have seen the video a couple times, and know what is coming next, and can actually dance and not concentrate so much on the instructions, then it's going to be a blast.

2) The guy does show you modified steps if you cannot keep up with the tazmanian devils that I mentioned before. If you can keep those thoughts in your head while watching them dancer faster then you're okay. (It would be better if they had one of the six dancers do modified moves throughout the video so you could have visual instruction throughout).

3) The beginnger workout does not sling all of those moves at you in one big dance off. They do four (or was it five) small dance sessions using only a few of the moves showed in the intro. Whew! What a relief that was!

4) It was over before I knew it! And that, my friend, is a freaking miracle when it comes to workouts. Yeah I was huffing and puffing and my legs were shaking and my face was bright red but I was still doing it and when he announced "this is your last dance" I was surprised (and a bit relieved as I really wanted to be able to finish the whole video).

5) I'm actually looking forward to doing it again. This is the kicker... I was so tired and didn't have the energy to work out, yet I knew working out would give me more energy, making it easier to do my NEXT workout. It was just taking that huge first step to actually make myself move that killed me. And in the formward motion that is weight loss, this workout today will make me want to eat better, which then again, will give me more energy.

And with that, my friends, my weight loss ball is a rolling. I feel so good and am so proud of myself.



I had such high hopes for Zumba! I did the workout many times, and the advanced workout a several times and then gave up. It just didn't happen.

What I liked: Fun, motivating instructors, great music. Watching the tape is fun and makes you want to move!

Then you do the instructional tape. You do the move half time, no music. Then you do it up to speed, with music. I would have preferred an intermediary step, say to do it half time with music or fast without music, because it just threw me. Plus, there's a really cool samba jump thing that looks fun, but they never slow it down or show you how to do it in any of the videos.

The regular workout is alright, but there is zero cuing. I guess you're supposed to read their minds.

The advanced workout, like the regular one, has no cuing at all. And while the workout isn't too strenuous, it was nearly impossible for me to catch on with silent instructors. Especially the times when you have your back to the TV. How do you know what they're doing if they're silent??

In addition, in the advanced workout, there is a large group dancing and they are all wearing bright colored pants. It makes it hard to distinguish the lead instructor from the group. All you see are a bunch of wiggling legs.

I think both the instructors have lots of potential. In fact, with a few changes, this workout could be totally awesome.



I really, really wanted to like Zumba. I really did! But I just don't.

First, about me. I'm an intermediate level exerciser. I love complex choreography.

The basic format of the video is that it's an approximately hour long cardio workout. The level of intensity is probably beginer to intermediate. Near the end, there are a couple of sections that are devoted to what Beta and co. seem to think are "toning". However, they don't use any weights and the moves seemed too fast to add any. Personally I don't consider that toning.

The workout is comprised of a few moves per song. You do the moves over and over for that song, and when the song ends you move onto the next.

This workout is absolutely horrendous on carpet. I wouldn't recommend doing it on carpet at all unless you're prepared to modify quite a bit.

The moves themselves were fairly fun (I couldn't do a lot of them, since I was on carpet). Lots of hip-shaking and attitude. There is one move that is comprised entirely of wiggling your stomach back and forth. That type of move is not difficult from a choreography standpoint, it's just hard to do if you're not used to it.

There were around 10 people in the class; Beto is the lead instructor, and another lady seems more like a traditional aerobics instructor and she gives form pointers and tells you how some moves will help build muscle, etc.

I really would rate the choreography moderate. I thought there was a whole lot of repitition. For an entire song you might do one or two moves and just repeat them. Not nearly as complex or fun as I thought it would be.

Beto hams it up quite a bit. There are a few dubbed-over cues, but mainly you just watch him and follow along. He's very flirty with the girls: slaps their thighs, dances with them some, etc. Overall he came across as pretty sleazy.

The moves are mainly low-impact, except strangely in the warm-up there is a lunge-type sequence that moves really fast and it hurt my feet to do it.

Everyone seems to universally love Zumba, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. The moves aren't complicated enough to make it interesting for me, the music is OK, the cueing is bad, and the workout is almost impossible on carpet. Add to that the sleaziness of Beto, and their claim that waving your arms around is toning, and I just don't care for this video.

The few pluses I found - you wouldn't need a lot of space to do this workout. And, while it would probably take a few tries to catch onto the dancy arm movements and fast footwork, overall just about anyone can probably do this video.

If you are a complex step lover like me, and hope to find a fantastic and intense hi/lo workout, save your money and don't get Zumba.

Instructor Comments:
Kind of a lecherous guy. He flirts and does suggestive things with the girls in the video. He doesn't cue very much, most of the time you just have to follow by watching.



(this following review refers to the Advanced tape in this set only)

I have wanted this video since it came out, but did not want to spend $59.99 for the entire set. so I bought the advanced tape only in an e-bay auction. With shipping and handling, I got it at a good price. The quality and sound are a little iffy in spots, but when you get things from e-bay, you sometimes gamble with quality. Having said that, I am so glad I did not get the entire set. I was able to do the whole video without the steps video. What a waiste of money to make people buy 4 videos.

About the video- The music is a little corney for my taste. I love REAL latin music, but it is danceable. The video moves pretty fast without much instruction. But trust me, the steps are repeated enough so that you'll get them eventually. The set is simple and the dancers are lively. I've done the tape 3x since I got it 3 weeks ago. It's a lot of fun and I would recommend it for people who love to dance and shake their hips. Hopefully Beto and the gang will make more of these. A "Live" tape would be excellent!

Instructor Comments:
Engaging personality. Doesn't talk much but smiles alot.



(This review refers to the ZUMBA Advanced workout only)

ZUMBA has a certain level of cheesiness that the exerciser will either love or hate. Remember Hank Azaria's character Agador in The Birdcage? Remember the scene where he dances to Miami Sound Machine with a red wig on? ("I'm like a combination of Ricky and Lucy!") I was reminded of that scene during the whole workout. It's a total hoot! "It's ZUMBA Baby!" Enjoying this workout requires you to be willing to make a complete jackass of yourself. If you can throw yourself into it with abandon it's a really good workout! If you are self-conscious, better try something else.

I did the workout for the first time with my best friend and her four year old daughter. We kept up pretty well even though there is literally no cuing. The foot patterns are all simple variations of the salsa, the cumbea, etc. The hip wiggling and arm patterns make it look harder than it is. But I’m serious. There is no cuing except for directions—apparently the steps are all taught in the ZUMBA Steps video which I didn’t buy. There aren’t real combos; you repeat a step for 32 counts or so then change to another. Each cycle of steps is repeated several times in each song. If you miss it the first time you can usually catch up and if not you can just dance around and keep your heart rate up.

I was not wearing my heart rate monitor the first time through but using perceived exertion the workout felt surprisingly intense (I'm low advanced--do advanced tapes but frequently modify if I need low impact or I'll keep my step on a lower height. Not a high intensity junky.) When I did the workout with a heart rate monitor I was able to keep my heart rate in the target throughout except for the two songs that were described as being included to bring down the heart rate. The workout uses an interval effect with 1 or 2 very intense songs, then a song that brings down the heart rate, then another intense song, then another that brings down the heart rate. This is done intentionally and is explained as the purpose behind a particular song. Some moves that look like they will make your heart rate plummet are surprisingly intense--try the move before you pass judgment.

There are non-weighted standing toning type moves at the end (with sort of a tango style to them LOL!). According to my heart rate monitor I was getting a little cardio benefit (60% of THR) during the toning. The lower body moves are pretty good for toning; the upper body moves are just silly and move too fast to use weights. For impact concerns, most of the video is low impact. One song near the end has some jumps. I have a twingy knee and had no problems with this.

RECOMMENDATION? I liked it. I'm always looking for floor tapes that are intense enough without having to do the impact. This will suit my needs well. It's the sort of tape you can do when you don't feel like working out.

However, there are real negatives to consider before purchasing. If you need cuing, this is not for you. If you need structured combinations, this is not for you. If you are at all adverse to a certain, ahem, BIRDCAGE-South Beach sensibility, this is not for you.

EXAMPLES: The last all out aerobic song has all the men up front, it features a horse riding, rear end spanking sort of step (one's own rear end, mind you, if that alarms you), and at one point three of them including Beto pull up their shirts for us. This alone was almost worth the price of the DVD

And there's more. If you are into Beto's tummy there is standing ab work where he and a lovely Brazilian woman (there is some commentary on her being from Brazil but I couldn't understand what on earth he was saying) face each other and do standing crunches. Giselle actually places her face between their tummies and cues them to imagine they are being hit in the stomach. Whether it works or not it's incredibly entertaining to watch. And warning—there are Macarena arms at one point!

But again I offer all these things as positives. It makes me laugh and the workout was pretty intense. I also like choreography, like to dance, don't mind the lack of cuing, and I like singing along with the live band who shout the word ZUMBA!. Like most Latin tapes it’s as intense as the effort you put into it, but this is the most intense Latin tape I’ve done.

I did fine without the instructional tape. I'm glad I bought the Advanced workout but I'm also glad I didn't spring for the whole set--four tapes of this--particularly at a lower intensity--would have been a waste of money. Hope this helps push all those on the fence in either one direction or another.

Micki Voelkel


I AM ADDICTED TO ZUMBA. It beats Fat Blaster goes Latin, Viva Rhythms, Ritmos Latinos, and Cardio dance floor. It's a good, fun workout.

TRY IT.. Can't hurt because you can return it in 30 days. I tried VHS and DVD. The DVDs and the VHS are the same, no cool interactive DVD menus, etc.

1) The music and choreography is moderate-complex for the uncoordinated folks-- if you can move your hips, and follow the beat, you CAN DO IT!

2) the instruction tape is 60 minutes and incorporated every step/dance that was in the beginner (28 mins), advanced (60 mins) and rapido (13 mins.) video. The advanced is very fun, compared to the beginner tape,which was pretty modest and toned down. The steps are taught well by a woman, Giselle. She is more focused than Beto.

3) the aeorbics is a really intense low-impact workout. He uses the interval training method to really bring up your heartrate and slow it downl. this is highly effective and smoothly incorporaed well.

4) the video is made up off traditional aeorbics mixed in with tradional moves of : salsa, merengue, cumbia, house, reggae-latin, belly dancing, tango, and flamenco. This is the unique element of ZUMBA; it really makes it fun while giving you the challenge and excitement of learning a new dance. You can do these moves in a club. I can dance latin good, but I'm not latina, I'm Jamaican. So anyone can learn.

5) The music is billingual... and has a strong temp. I love the music.

Rapido tape is 13 mins. It is just Beto, no neon color set, just the band next to him playing while he's doing the routine. The Samba section of this and the advanced tape get your heart rate up fast!
the really weird thing is in every song you subtely hear the words, Zumba, Zumba, Zumba, with Beto.. Subliminal advertising?? LOL. :D

Instructor Comments:
Giselle good instructor. Beto, not cute, doesn't cue much cuz Instruction tape had 60mins of instruction for all the steps.