WATERBREAK| Strong by Zumba is not a dance workout

THE NOVELTY in Strong by Zumba–the music-led high intensity interval training (HIIT) brand by Zumba–lies in how sets are designed around music instead of the other way around.

Music is a primary element in the bodyweight workout–the brand refers to this kind of system as Synced Music Motivation.

“In every class, music and moves sync in a way that pushes you past your perceived limits, to reach your fitness goals faster,” the Strong website said.

At a glance, I thought this feature of Strong may easily be dismissed. All the work put in by Strong to “reverse engineer” a playlist to a workout seems unnecessary because anyone can manually sync movements to whatever song is playing in the background when working out.

But then again, not all HIIT classes have great playlists. I once went to a HIIT class playing OPM the entire time.

This is where Strong comes in as an intervention. No more Roselle Nava in the gym please!

Workout playlists and tracks in Strong are created by producers like Timbaland solely for the workout. This creates a more immersive workout environment that literally connects movements with music and heart thumping bass. Planting your hands on the floor when doing burpees will never be the same again. Just don’t forget to sync your breath, too!

Strong can be challenging depending on the effort you put in it. My first class had lots of squats and lunges and variations and combinations of both. Some sets involved doing explosive, high impact movements.

It is best to have basic knowledge on proper form and execution when joining Strong because, based on my experience, the music might get too loud and instructors might not be able to correct your form or give you alignment cues.

There will be lots of leg work throughout the class so it’s important to know your leg movements by heart–and to modify accordingly when exercises become too much to handle. (Check the Strong Facebook Page for a breakdown of the staple movements.)

Some sets in the class are fast paced and might make it difficult for students to stay in their best form. Even I always have to look in the mirror to check my knee positions during my lunges, which falter often. Bad form makes a bad workout.

At some point, I felt the rigidity of Strong: once I got in the groove with the workout, it seemed disorienting to be left out and not sync movements with music. It’s a HIIT class, so there were times when I had to pause, just stand there and try to catch my breath.

The good thing is that recovery in between sprints and cardio sets (curse you, jumping jacks!) are made fun: there are lateral shuffles, wide stance plies to toe taps, and Capoeira ginga. So cool.

Strong exudes minimal Zumba identity. Instructors would often be heard saying that dance comprises only one percent of the entire workout. I guess they were referring to recovery sets.

At another time, I joined a Strong class in Matina Town Square. Everything went well until we had to do floor work. Strong isn’t a class I’d recommend doing with a large group of people outdoors because it will be difficult to hear or see instructors when your back is on the floor or when you’re doing push-ups.

Strong is a welcome addition to indoor group classes in gyms in the city. I like how it instantly popularizes HIIT to the public through the already big Zumba crowd. Those doing Zumba regularly might even instantly like the workout consider adding strength training to their regular routines.

Watch out, with Strong by Zumba, the Zumba mom crowd might be the next beasts in the gym.

(What workout should I try next? Buzz me on Instagram or Twitter @jesiramoun)

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