The Calories Zumba Burns: Zumba 101

We workout to burn calories.  While I love doing Zumba….it IS a workout.  So what about the calories Zumba burns?


I previously used a BodyBugg heart rate monitor/calorie management system while doing Zumba.  I would love to tell you about the calories Zumba burns!

*side note: every body is different.  A person weighing 200 pounds will naturally burn more calories than a person weighing 120.  Also, a 150 pound person with more muscle mass will burn more calories than a 150 pound person who has less muscle mass.  Thirdly, your effort in any exercise determines your calorie burn.  Half way doing the work out will result in a lower calorie burn.  Lastly, classes can greatly vary from instructor to instructor.  We do several “toning” songs in my classes with squats, ab workouts, and the like.  We also do interval training going from high intensity to low intensity.  My findings about Zumba calorie burns are not scientific in any way.  I’m just telling you what I know. 🙂 *

Zumba is a GREAT high intensity workout. As Zumba isntructors, we are taught how to maximize a participant’s workout by having an interval class.  We mix high intensity cardio songs with lower intensity “toning” songs.

In order to get the best calorie burn bang for your Zumba buck, you have to give class your all.  I am constantly telling my classes to keep their abs engaged (hold them tight.  Think of that “sucking it in when you want to look skinny” time.  You are holding your abs tight.  If you engage more muscles, you will burn more calories.  In Zumba, you also have to “finish” your moves to get the full effect.  This means making each extension full, doing each squat, lunge, or whatever to its fullest.  No halfway here!  I know moves sometimes feel awkward or they don’t come naturally, but if you push yourself to really do the moves, you will reap the rewards.

When I would wear my BodyBugg, I would average 300-500 calories burned when taking a Zumba class. At that time, I was a 180-190 pound female with a slightly higher than normal muscle mass.  The classes would be 45 minutes to one hour.

When I TEACH Zumba, I averaged 500-600 calories per class.  This is due to the fact that as the instructor, you are moving a bit more and trying to amp up the energy in the class, so you exert yourself more.

The Zumba calorie burn is pretty much on average for any cardio activity.  However, Zumba is MUCH more fun!  Zumba is a bit different from other generic cardio activities (running, step aerobics) in that it is a full body workout.  So while your calorie burn may not be all that different, the way you are moving your body is.  I know from testimony of myself and others in my class, that Zumba does more to “reshape” your body than other cardio activities.  Because you are constantly using your legs, hips, shoulders, abs….instead of just trodding along on the elliptical, you are likely (in my opinion) to see more changes in your body along with the high calorie burn.

Have you worn a heart rate monitor to Zumba?  What was your Zumba calorie burn?  If you have any questions about Zumba, leave me a comment!

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  1. First of all, I would like to say that I very much enjoy your blog. You are an excellent writer. In fact, I’m thinking of sending my posts to you for editing. I feel like I’ve got things to say, but that I don’t express myself as well as I would like.

    Speaking of getting the most out of your workout, I agree so strongly with everything you said. I feel like such a nag in my classes sometimes because I continually have to remind everyone to engage their abs, extend, travel, tense their muscles and just put a little “Oomph” into it. I mean, you are already here exercising, make the most of it.

    I also remind them to think of how you can use your muscles to the fullest throughout the day and always, always, always and always… engage your abs. It’s just a good idea. It strengthens your core, improves posture, and let’s face it, it makes you look better in your jeans.

    Anyway, A+ on your post.
    Jennifer Carpenter (Zumba Sista)

    • Jennifer- thank you for your comment! As far as my writing goes, I just try to write like I’m talking to someone (and we both know I always have LOTS to say! ha!) You are a great Zumba instructor to remind your folks to stay engaged! It makes a HUGE difference! Thanks! Zumba love!

  2. By the way, I do zero weight training (not that I’m against it, just can’t seem to fit it in). I get all my “toning” from my regular Zumba class.

  3. I have worn heart rate monitor/calorie counter while doing zumba and checked it against the webiste and they are very close!

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