Zumba Exhilarate: A review

I got the Zumba Exhilarate set for my birthday, and now that I’ve made it through the entire set, here’s my review.

(ps. Here’s a website complete with an infomercial-y video about the set. I bought my set through Amazon for around $80).

I tried Zumba for the first time this spring and fell in love with the high-energy, fun dance work-outs. I’ve been getting bored with treadmills, ellipticals, etc., lately, so this exercise is definitely a breath of fresh air. But I can only make it to one or two classes a week, so I need more options. This set definitely provides several different ways to Zumba, with different styles and workout lengths.

It’s a seven-disc set that also comes with Zumba toning sticks (1 1/2 pound weights that sound like maracas), as well as info on stretching, eating healthfully, things like that.

Here’s a break-down of each disc:

Step-by-Step: This is a helpful place to start, even if you’re familiar with the styles of dance (salsa, merengue, calypso, cumbia, hiphop, belly dance, reggaeton). I’ve gone through this one once to make sure I’m doing the steps correctly. This won’t teach you EVERY step you’ll encounter throughout the set, but you’ll learn a majority of them. If you’re totally new to Zumba, you may want to go through this DVD a couple of times before moving on, just to get the hang of it.

Activate: This is a 45-minute workout that includes all of the moves you learn in Step by Step. It’s a wonderfully-paced workout – I had no trouble completing it – and it’s a favorite.

Rush: Holy cow, y’all. This one is 20 minutes, and every single second is jam-packed. It’s great if you’re low on time, but on the other hand, it’s SUPER intense. I actually had trouble completing it, and I’ve never felt too tired to finish a full hour-long class. So this one is definitely something to work toward!

Exhilarate: This is another 45-minute workout, and another favorite of mine. Like Activate, this one is well-paced, so you never get too out of breath and you exercise steadily throughout the DVD. (Ladies – and maybe some gentlemen – this one is hosted by Beto, a Zumba founder. He is, frankly, easy on the eyes, so that makes this one really fun to watch!)

Ripped: This is Zumba toning. I’ve never been to a Zumba toning class, so this was a nice explainer. I wasn’t sure the 1 1/2-pound toning sticks would really help me work out, but they do (especially if you don’t do much strength training, and I’m not quite ready for that yet). There’s some dancing mixed in with the toning so it never gets boring.

Mix: This is probably my favorite. Along with your regular instructors, there are dancers from all over the world who show you how to move like they do. There was everything from native African dances to the flamenco. I’m not sure how long this DVD is, and it can get really intense in parts, but it’s so much fun.

Fitness Concert: It’s exactly what you think it is: it’s a concert with hundreds of folks Zumba’ing. It’s 60 minutes and, again, well-paced. The cool thing is you get to see all of these Zumba’ers who were at a Zumba convention back in 2010. The men and women there are of literally every size, every shape, every color, every age.

A nice feature in most of the DVDs is the “Learn It!” and “Feel It!” options. If you’re still learning the choreography, you can watch the workout with instructor’s cues and encouragement (that’s the “Learn It!” option). Or, you can just listen to the music (that’s the “Feel It!” option).

The one complaint I have is attached to a compliment, so I’m not sure how much of a complaint it is: the exercises, dancers, sets, lighting, they all look good. They almost look like music videos. That’s awesome, but at the same time, sometimes the way they’re edited (usually towards the end of the workouts) you can’t see how the instructors are moving very well. When I couldn’t tell what the step was, I’d substitute some basic move and keep time with the music.

All in all, it’s a great set. If you want to try Zumba at home before heading to class, this is a great way to learn the basics. Or if you’re like me and want more than just a class or two a week, this set is terrific.