With it's dance-inspired moves, Zumba can be a fun activity, but it offers health benefits as well. According to the American Council on Exercise, "Zumba is also a fine choice for those who are looking to drop a few pounds." To lose a pound of fat you'll need to burn 3,500 excess calories. How fast you can do this will depend on your weight and workout intensity.
Average Calorie Burn
According to a study commissioned by ACE, an average person burns 9.5 calories per minute doing Zumba. This works out to 369 calories in an average Zumba class. At this rate you would drop a pound for every nine and a half Zumba classes that you attend. This amounts to over six hours of Zumba per pound lost.
Every individual is different, so you may not burn calories as quickly as the average person. If you weigh less or work out less intensely, you'll burn fewer calories. The ACE study found that the low end of the calorie burn range for Zumba was 5.1 calories per minute. That works out to about 199 calories burned per class. At this rate you'd need to attend over 17 and a half Zumba classes to burn a single pound of fat and you can expect to put in nearly 11 and a half hours of cumulative exercise.
It's also possible that you'll burn more calories than the average. You can expect this if you weigh more, or if you work out harder. According to the ACE study, the high end of the calorie burn was 15.3 calories per minute. That's equal to a whopping 597 calories in an average class. At this rate you would need to attend fewer than six average classes to lose a pound; this works out to fewer than 4 hours of exercise.
You'll only lose weight if you control your food intake as well; if you eat back your burned calories you won't see results. For safe, healthy weight loss you should aim for a daily calorie deficit -- created by exercising and cutting calories -- of between 500 and 1,000 calories per day. This should provide weekly weight loss in the range of one to two pounds. Always consult a doctor before starting an exercise or weight loss program.