Updated: May 20, 2022
In 2016, Zumba launched a program called Strong by Zumba. Designed in a somewhat similar style as Zumba, the steps throughout the class are set to the music - the moves, however, are nothing like that of popular dance-style class. This intense workout consists of combinations of squats, lunges, push-ups, burpees and much, much more to make you break a sweat, get your heart pumping and improve your overall physical fitness. The program has grown and gained popularity outside of Zumba and was renamed in 2020 to Strong Nation®. But make no mistake, it was only the name that changed - it is still the same amazing workout. And if you’ve been contemplating whether or not this class is for you, here are our top five reasons that it’s totally worth giving a try.
1. It is a FULL BODY workout.
The structure of a Strong Nation class consists of four Quadrants, plus a warm-up and cooldown. Each Quadrant is designed to work your body in a different way. The first Quadrant, called “Ignite”, does exactly that: it starts to build some heat in your body using different muscle groups to lead into the following Quadrants. Through the leg challenge and the push-up challenge, the major muscle groups of both the upper and lower body are targeted. If you’re new to this type of class, we know this can sound a bit daunting, but don’t let it scare you! It’s a challenge for a reason, and we push through it together as a group and get it out of the way nice and early in the class!
Quadrants 2 and 3 hit your cardiovascular system in particular. The muscles have been primed in the first Quadrant, so these next two gradually increase in intensity with a lot of up and down movement (from standing to plank position, for example) to really increase the heart rate. By the end of Q3, expect to feel incredibly breathless with your heart beating like crazy. This is a good sign! It means the heart and lungs got a really good workout.
Before the cooldown, the class ends with Quadrant 4, accurately called “Floor Play” - here you’ll grab a floor mat and work your core. While your breathing and heart rate return to a more relaxed level, your abs, back and shoulders will get their turn through a series of different moves targeted to hit those smaller (but equally as important) areas of the body. From top to bottom, Strong Nation works it all in just 60 minutes.
Yvonne and Brittany doing some different Strong Nation moves.
2. NO EQUIPMENT needed.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to taking a Strong Nation class is that everything mentioned above (that full body workout), requires nothing but your body! No fancy gym equipment or at-home workout accessories are needed - in fact, it’s best to move these out of the way entirely as you won’t be using them, and we don't want you tripping on them! You will need nothing but your own bodyweight, and in a Strong Nation class, that is more than enough. We love, love, love the energy of an in-person Strong Nation class, but we also love doing it virtually. It is so easy to take Strong Nation classes into an online format because all you need, even at home, is just some floor space, a floor mat, and a good pair of workout shoes. (Speaking of, we highly recommend either purchasing some high-impact athletic footwear, or adding insoles to your existing shoes for the extra support. This can be very helpful for shock-absorption in the higher impact moves).
Now, you might be wondering how the workout can continue to be effective if you never add or increase weight for muscle resistance, or speed for cardiovascular endurance. Strong Nation has got this covered, too. To begin with, each quadrant changes every four months. That means that the moves we've been working on and starting to crush after doing it weekly (or perhaps more than once a week), will suddenly be entirely different, and your body will have to get accustomed to a whole new set of moves and music. What’s more is that a Strong Nation Quadrant comes with modifications and progressions, so if the moves start to feel less challenging, watch for the progressions and step up your game!
3. It is designed to be accessible to ALL FITNESS LEVELS.
The modifications and progressions are great for creating more of a challenge for yourself, but they have another benefit: they make the class accessible for all fitness levels. In our classes at Yvonne’s Fitness, we work to consistently incorporate all three levels into every move of every class (the “base” move, the “low” version of the move, and the “high” version of the move). If you’ve never tried Strong Nation before, or a move feels a bit too challenging, start with the low options. Let your body get used to the movement at what feels like a manageable level and work your way up. If you're ready to push your body as much as you can, kick your moves into high gear with the high options! Some moves may look or feel impossible at first, but as with anything, practice makes progress (because there is no perfect)! Check out these awesome demos on YouTube made by Strong Nation to get an idea of what low (1), base (2) and high (3) moves look like!
There are a lot of moves that require being down on the floor, either in some form of a plank, or the core work in Q4, but there are participants that are not always able to do this, either due to wrist issues or limited mobility - that’s okay too! Strong Nation can still be your class. Whenever possible, we aim to show options that don’t require moving down to the floor. And if ever you’re unsure of how to modify a move for your specific body needs, ask your instructor. In an in-person class, the instructor will generally be able to see you and assess that a particular move may not work for you, and can incorporate an alternative into the moves for you to see. In a virtual setting, this isn’t always possible, so let us know and we’ll help you find the right modification.
4. Every move is driven by the MUSIC.
There are many HIIT classes (High Intensity Interval Training) that use music as a background motivator to their classes. And they can be awesome. At Yvonne’s Fitness, however, our instructors and students alike love to move to a beat - and that’s part of why we love Strong Nation so much. Every move - every plank, squat, sit-up, push-up, burpee and jumping jack - are perfectly synced to the rhythm of the music. The music in a Strong Nation class has actually been reverse engineered to match the moves perfectly. It is incredibly motivating, especially during moves that are particularly challenging, and can also make it easier to follow along. There are often verbal cues built right into the music as well, giving you that extra motivating reminder that you’ve only got a few repetitions left to go!
The genres of music chosen are very fitting for Strong Nation. Quite often, you can expect to hear EDM or Hip-Hop music - these may not be genres you listen to in your general music shuffle, but in a Strong Nation class, the intensity of the beat matches the intensity of the movement and helps to really drive the class forward, both physically and mentally. FUN TIP: As the music in class starts to become more familiar, try listening to the occasional lyric - they’ve usually got some motivational messages built in.
Yvonne and one of her Strong Nation students wearing matching "Music Is My Fuel" Shirts
5. Leave class with an ENERGY BOOST to last the rest of your day.
At Yvonne’s Fitness, we’ve become accustomed to doing our Strong Nation classes first thing on Saturday mornings. While that may seem exhausting at first, you need only try it with us for a few weeks before you’ll start to notice why we are motivated to show up bright and early to start our weekends. Strong Nation gives us an energy boost like no other.
After a highly energized workout like Strong Nation, the body is coursing with endorphins, which is one of the biggest reasons most people choose to exercise (in any format). Endorphins relieve stress and pain, and leave our bodies feeling physically energized. By kicking off our Saturday mornings with a Strong Nation class, we always feel so physically and mentally amazing and just a little more charged to take on our weekend tasks. Sure, some muscle soreness may kick in a day or two after the class, but the endorphin "high" from our Saturday morning class is so great, it quite often takes us right into a fully charged feeling on Sundays too! (And it is important to rest between Strong Nation classes, so we generally don't do a class on Sundays, and advise our students to let their bodies rest as well).
If you’ve read all the way to the end of our list, and are still hesitant about Strong Nation, the next best thing to do is jump into a class and see for yourself. As with any new form of workout, it takes a bit of time to let your mind wrap around the experience, but if you love to really challenge your body in a fitness class setting, then Strong Nation is very likely going to steal your heart at the very first beat.