Many of my female patients practice Yoga and they know I think it is a great way for them to stay in shape. It’s been practiced for centuries by eastern Indian cultures as a form of physical fitness. However, I also encourage my male patients to take up Yoga as a great way to stay limber, stretch muscles, gain strength, as well as relax like no other exercise out there!
I’d also like to tell all you guys what I’ve been telling my male patients lately about another great way to stay in shape and have a blast doing it – Zumba, as in Zoom-ba! It is as fast and fun as its name, but after guys try it they’re as hooked on it as I am!
Actually, one of my female patients told me about Zumba several months ago. It’s a Latin-American dance-step derived aerobics fitness routine developed by Alberto Beto Perez, a male South American fitness instructor. Like Yoga, Zumba practitioners are predominantly women, but recently more and more guys seem to be getting in on the fun and fitness aspects of both Yoga and Zumba! Let’s talk about the great benefits of both of these types of exercise.
The Zumba Fitness Party
If you watch late night television, you’ve likely come across a Zumba infomercial. Their slogan is, “Ditch the Workout, Join the Party!”, and indeed, participating in a Zumba session with a group of people does feel more like being at a fun dance party rather than doing a boring, routine gym workout of weights and cardio machines by yourself. Believe me, there’s nothing boring about Zumba! If you like fast-paced Latin rhythm music, you’ll love Zumba.
Zumba testimonials feature people of all ages and levels of fitness. Like Yoga, too, there are sessions specifically targeted for senior adults to kids and everyone in between. Zumba consists of 30-45-minute routines that really tone up all your muscles and torch body fat with its intense movements. In fact, you can burn up to 1,000 calories a session doing Zumba! Practitioners rave about how much weight they’ve lost, how firm their muscles are, how great they feel and best of all, how much fun they have doing Zumba!
In a Zumba session, like Yoga, an instructor, or sometimes instructors, stand at the head of the class, and demonstrate the basic steps that you will be covering in that session. They make sure that all the muscles of your body get a good workout. Unlike Yoga, which features slow, rhythmic, stretching routines, Zumba is fast paced creates the method of exercise, interval training, that is the most successful in helping you burn fat, tone muscles, and gain endurance at the same time.
When the music starts, you simply follow the instructor’s moves, same as you would if you were taking an aerobics class. Even though Zumba moves are derived from Latin American dances like the Rumba, Cha-Cha, Meringue, Salsa, etc, you don’t have to know how to dance, or even be particularly coordinated, to start doing Zumba fitness routines. Like Yoga, there are beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. You simply follow the instructor and go for it!
Health Benefits of Yoga
When I bring up Yoga to my male patients, a lot of them cringe and say, Eh, that’s for girls. Really? They’re amazed when I tell them that professional male athletes swear by Yoga to give their muscles incredible flexibility and strength. In fact, the entire baseball team of the San Diego Padres has their own Yoga instructor whom they train with twice a week! Even the Philadelphia Eagles have their own personal Yoga coach!
Yoga is also credited to being created by a male, the Hindu God Patanjali. It is a total body workout that can improve your flexibility, increase endurance, strength, prevent injuries, and de-stress you like no other exercise can, key in preventing heart disease and other stress-related illnesses.
Think about some other benefits of Yoga that are specific to men:
➢ Relieves tightness in the hamstrings, groin, hips and shoulders where men carry most of their physical tension.
➢ Strengthens the low back and knees which typically get no attention during regular gym routines or cardio.
➢ Teaches slow, rhythmic breathing which can lower blood pressure over time. Men tend to suffer from high blood pressure more than women do.
➢ Teaches concentration and a “can-do” mastery of attitude that filters off into other parts of your life that can help you succeed at anything you set your mind to.
Guys Doing Zumba and Yoga
Men typically think of group exercise classes such as Yoga and Zumba as something women do. They’re embarrassed or think they’ll look silly trying to follow along doing certain dance moves or Yoga poses. Honestly, all the men I’ve talked to who have joined Zumba or Yoga classes soon lose their inhibitions about exercising in a group of mostly women. Seems having other people around actually spur you to get into the routine. In fact, most guys who’ve done Zumba and Yoga tell me it’s great to have a group of people to joke and laugh with in between routines.
How To Get Started
You can likely find several Zumba and Yoga classes right in your hometown or nearby. Here are some good places to start:
➢ Your local adult education program that sponsors community classes.
➢ Your local recreational center, Family Y, or private gyms usually have classes.
➢ You might also simply enter Zumba or Yoga, your city, state on an internet search engine and to find information about classes near you.
If you’re not sure if you want to commit to a structured Zumba class, you may want to just drop-in to an existing session to see how you like it. Many places that hold Zumba sessions offer the option to pay per class, ranging anywhere from 6.00 to 10.00 a class, depending on where you live. Many metropolitan cities also have Zumba night parties at local nightclubs, or other avenues, where they literally Zumba the night away and go home a little bit lighter!
Yoga is usually a little more structured and only offer drop-in classes to people already a little experienced in the poses, but there are beginning classes that will teach you all you need to know.
What To Wear for Yoga and Zumba
Dress is pretty casual for both Yoga and Zumba consisting of what you might wear if you’re going to the gym for a workout. I like just a simple cotton T-shirt and shorts as comfort and ability to move are key. You will also want some good supportive athletic shoes to stabilize your feet and ankles during Zumba’s fast paced moves. In Yoga, you are generally barefoot.
You will sweat quite a bit in both Yoga and Zumba sessions so you might want to wear a terry cloth headband to keep sweat out of your eyes. Also, make sure you bring a water bottle filled with a good sports drink that you can sip on breaks that will keep you well hydrated.
Well, there you have a basic introduction to the fitness, and fun, of two of the best workouts on the planet – Zumba and Yoga! Forget what you thought about them being just for the girls. Stimulating exercise such as Yoga and Zumba are an incredible boon to men’s health also, helping with weight control, gaining strength, and boosting virility by stimulating testosterone production!
I think if you try Zumba and/or Yoga you’ll find them the most de-stressing and invigorating ways to get fit. As an added benefit, it’s also a great way for single guys to meet some fantastic, fitness oriented ladies as well!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.