Zumba and the perpetuation of the human species – how dancing bring us closer to our inner cavewoman

That Zumba is a hit among women is no news. What is news is that I recently found some compelling Evolution-theory-based evidence that explains why this workout is so popular in the female world. (For those who don’t know, Zumba is a type of exercise inspired in Latin dance that involves intense hip movements.)

The theory is simple: women like Zumba because it awakens their most fundamental instincts of reproduction, perpetuation of the species and natural selection. If you are familiar with the animal mating dances from Discovery Channel, you’ll probably find striking similarities with the Zumba dance that happens every day, right at the gym you go to. The difference is that humans, not birds, are the performers.

Photo credits: Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette

Let me clarify this scientific rationale. There are three main types of female Zumba dancers. The first one is the “ready-to-mate” woman. All females of this type dance very well – they are the goddesses of hip shaking. No matter if they are taken or available, there’s an unannounced competition among them to identify the one with the most sensual movements. They smile and pout while dancing (see picture), shake their hips and shoulders fiercely and generally wear stretchy, tight-fitting black pants and sleeveless tops.

Females of this and other types alike can smell these women’s fertility hormones from afar – a sense that can be very intimidating for all women who do not belong to this class. Additionally, the sweat generated by the dance probably helps propagate the scent even further. The ready-to-mates look extremely self-confident, go to the gym frequently and generally prefer not to have the company of other females during class. This class of woman is the most likely to find mates and win the competition to pass on their genes.

The second type is comprises the “I’m-here-just-to-have-fun” ladies. This group also consists of healthy, fertile women with one key difference: they can’t dance. Women of this breed generally go to the gym in pairs or groups of three – if they are to embarrass themselves, they would better embarrass themselves together. They laugh, point at each other and pat on each other’s back frequently. When they have a moment of lucidity, they look at the ready-to-mate woman in front of them and try to imitate her moves.

The I’m-here-just-to-have-fun women generally wear fancy gym clothes, jewelry, excessive makeup and impeccable hair. After all, their poor dance skills need to be compensated in some way. Unfortunately, these pretty ladies don’t have the same level of endurance of a ready-to-mate and will most likely lose the mating competition. At the end of the class, they are as dry as coconut shells. Useless, but fun workout – yay!

The third and last type of Zumba goer comprises the women who have already gone through menopause, the “I’m-more-concerned-about-dinner-than-appearance” ladies. This breed is no longer in the mate-finding race and really don’t care about the way they dress. A loose white t-shirt (probably from their son’s wardrobe) and spandex shorts are just fine.

Women of this class are actually the winners of the matting race. They’ve accomplished their role to reproduce and perpetuate their genes; however, exactly because they are no longer competing, they can be easily ignored – or even despised – by the fertile crowd.

Next time you go to the gym, pay attention to these types. If you are a woman, you’ll be shocked to find out how a favorable environment (gym) with the right sensorial stimuli (music, dim light etc.) can make us more similar to our cousins from the animal kingdom than to the homo sapiens sapiens we’re supposed to be.