How Are Latin Cardio & Zumba Different?

Latin cardio or Zumba exercise classes are a fun way to workout.
i Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Loud, upbeat music paired with colorful clothing and wiggling hips are just a few of the things you'll find in a Latin cardio or Zumba class. These energetic workouts increase your heart rate, burn calories, improve your balance and strengthen your core. The best class for you will be the one that fits your wants and needs, and your budget.


    The main difference between Zumba and other Latin-dance exercises classes is the choreography. Zumba instructors learn routines that go with each song. The instructor teaches the routine to you, and the group dances as if it were at a club. You do not have to do the movements perfectly; just the best you can and at your own workout intensity. In other Latin dance classes, your instructor creates her own routine and then teaches it to you. The instructor has more freedom with the choreography, which may be different every time you attend class.


    The instructor sets the mood for your dance-inspired workouts. During a Zumba class, you can expect nonverbal cues, so you'll have to watch every move your instructor makes. Zumba uses hand signals and body language to show directional changes. During other Latin dance workouts, the instructor uses verbal cues, will count down to directional changes and let you know on which foot to start the routine.


    The music during Zumba and Latin dance aerobics is similar. Both styles use music and dance steps such as salsa, merengue, mambo and flamenco. You will always perform the same routine to the same song during Zumba, which is helpful if you take classes at a variety of locations. For other Latin dance classes, you may perform a different movement to the same song depending on the week or on the instructor.


    Latin dance aerobic classes are usually part of the regular group exercise workout schedule. Some instructors use Latin dance during a traditional aerobic class, so you typically won't pay an additional cost. Zumba instructors are specially certified, so health clubs and independent instructors may charge extra for the Zumba classes.


    Zumba classes are either all cardio-based workouts, or combine toning and dancing together. Aqua Zumba takes place in the water. Latin dance classes are typically cardiovascular workouts that may contain an abdominal training workout at the end.

the nest