First a disclaimer: Zumba is a fitness class—not a dance class
Nonetheless, there is a dance component in Zumba, and for many that is the source of most of the fun, and possibly the source of a little frustration too. Whether the rest of this post makes any sense or not, keep in mind that if you just keep showing up in class, the steps will grow more and more familiar. As with any new endeavor, it just takes some practice.
In Zumba, knowing whether it’s the right foot’s turn or the left foot’s turn is only part of the picture. Equally significant is recognizing how much weight to shift onto that foot.
In my mind, these are the two main categories of what to do with your feet.
A tap is when you just tap one foot to the floor, while all your weight remains on your other foot.
The opposite of a tap would be a step, where you shift all your weight from one foot to the other.
Secondary categories might be:
A Push-off, which is related to a step except instead of traveling anywhere, the step just causes you to change direction, such as a pivot-turn. This is often called “mambo” in other fitness classes.
A semi-step, where some of your weight remains on the original foot. This “half” step is how you can achieve the quickness of salsa and samba. It also allows for that down-into-the-floor feel that Latin dancing has as opposed to, say, Irish step dancing where feet barely remain in contact with the floor. For whatever reason, the word “smear” often comes to mind when I think of this step. The most frequent setback to learning salsa that I observe is when a person is tapping when he or she should be semi-stepping. The feet are all moving to their proper locations but no weight shift is taking place.
A kick—just like it sounds.
Lift and replace, where you pick up your foot as if to take a step but then you just set it right back where it was. Very easy to see this in a cha cha cha.
“Breaks”, “rock steps” . . . there are certainly proper dance terms for some of what I just described. These are just my own interpretations, so don’t quote me on them! You probably have already found yourself developing your own terminology for the various steps in class. If you’re really stuck on something, though, take a pause and observe. See if you can identify what sort of weight change (if any) should be taking place. This might help you pick up the step a little quicker. Make sure you don’t overthink it though! It’s supposed to be fun!
Do you agree with my step descriptions? Did I miss something? Do you have a different system that works? Let me know! (sorry I had to disable comments: too much spam)