Why 30 minutes of Rumba Walks a day will change your body forever
Professional Latin World Champion Gaynor Fairweather was known for practising at least 30 mins of Rumba walks every day. Why? Because Rumba walks are not only for Rumba, they provide the basis for all our Latin leg movement.
Think about a professional Latin couple dancing Rumba at the highest-level what springs to mind? How sexy and effortless their Rumba walks are? Take a look at the video below of Yulia Zagoruychenko, how feminine and fluid are her Rumba walks?
Rumba walks are one of the best exercises for Latin Dancers to correct posture, fluidity of movement, foot placement, turnout, hip rotation and balance to name but a few.
So, what are Rumba walks?
First let’s talk about the basic progressive Rumba walk (without delay), the technique is exactly the same for the man or woman although the woman will tend to be wearing a higher heeled shoe and therefore the technique looks even more pronounced due to the angle of elevation of her foot, also ladies are wearing a dress so their legs are exposed compared to a man wearing trousers.
So, when we walk normally, down the road as a pedestrian for example, we move our body weight forward slightly, then the leg moves forward out from underneath our hip and we put our heel down on the floor first and then lower the ball of the foot and finally transfer our weight onto the leg. With Rumba walks we start with moving our upper body forward, thus sending our weight forward, some would say it’s the chest or rib cage area that leads, we then push our foot forward (let’s say Right foot for now), with pressure into the ball of the foot. The Right knee is bent slightly and only briefly as it comes from behind and then once it’s in front we straighten the knee and point our toes forward until we place our weight directly over the ball of the right foot, then we lower the Right heel and place full weight on the right foot whilst pushing off our left foot until our Left heel is up off the floor and for a second all our weight is over the front foot and the hip settled.
In Rumba walks the ball of the foot is always in contact with the floor, we literally push the balls of the foot over the floor, no heel leads. The body is vertical with shoulders back and down although your weight or centre is slightly forward over the ball of the front foot.
In this next video Anna Kovalova gives an excellent explanation of the Basic Rumba Walk technique.
Why do Rumba Walks matter so much to a Latin dancer?
The reason the Rumba Walk technique is so important to a Latin Dancer is because of the ability to achieve a straight leg on both legs simultaneously whilst creating the Latin hip action from the settlement of the weight onto the front heel. We use pressure into the back foot to push off and elevate our body without ever losing contact with the floor. The hip connected to the back foot slightly rotates outward naturally due to the position of the back foot, we don’t rotate the hip out on purpose.
Creating a hinge at the hip and having both legs straight for that split second creates beautiful length to the legs, shows off every muscle in the leg as it is used to create the illusion of powerful and yet effortless beauty in our motion.
Common mistakes with Rumba walks
One of the key issues we see with Beginners trying to learn the Forward Rumba walks is that they try to force the hip action. The hip action is a product of the correct foot placement, straight leg extension and pressure in and out of the floor, we do not move our hips on purpose.
In backward Rumba walks we also see Beginners over forcing the hip out and this allows the front foot to lift off the floor. The technique is slightly different for Backward Rumba walks. Here’s an excellent demonstration from Anna Kovalova again:
Did you know that there are 9 types of Rumba walks?
We tend to think of basic Rumba walks forward or backwards, but there are 9 types of Rumba walks. All the walks are used equally in Cha Cha, but they provide a staple foundation in Latin leg technique as well as strengthening all the muscles we need for Latin dance.
1. The Forward Walk – the most common
2. The Checked Forward Walk – used to stop forward movement and start backward movement
3. The Extended Forward walk – using a syncopated rhythm
4. The Pressed Forward Walk – to change direction and bring the partners closer together
5. The Forward Walk Turning – for a 180-degree change of direction
6. The Backward Walk – the forward walk in reverse
7. The Extended Backward Walk – started close to the partner and then the lady moving back quickly
8. The Pressed Backward Walk – when the man dances a Cuban Cross action
9. The Backward Walk Turning
Weight training for dancers
When you first start Latin dancing your legs simply do not have the correct muscle development to achieve the Rumba Walks perfectly. Think of a weight lifter in an Olympic competition trying to break the Olympic record. The weights they are lifting are incredible, their muscle mass is eye watering. They didn’t get their physique like that by taking up weight lifting 6 weeks before the competition did they? Any athlete from any discipline must train their body for the type of exercise it is expected to do. Latin dance is no different.
Why do the professional Latin dance ladies look so beautiful with muscle definition to die for? Because they have trained their bodies for years and years. This means that you will not achieve the full Rumba walk technique and strength in just a few lessons. You may achieve something close to this is your body is hyper mobile or if you’ve studied some ballet and can create turnout, but you will still need to practice your Rumba walk technique repeatedly and build the muscle strength and endurance. Just think of it as another workout without going to the gym.
What are the Benefits of practising Rumba Walks?
Here’s a few we can think of:
1) Improved footwork
2) Improved control over key muscles
3) Improved balance & control
4) Improved and correct hip action – natural not forced
5) Improved core body action
6) Improved posture
7) Improved muscle strength and endurance
8) Improved sex appeal!
How often should I practice Rumba walks?
Top professional Latin dancers will tell you that just practising Rumba walks for 30 – 60 minutes per day will not only help you to perfect your Latin dance technique but will also develop the correct muscles required for Latin dance in general.
Look at the physique of the top Latin Dancers, they all have similar muscle definition. Ladies in particular develop turnout and banana arches similar to ballet dancers. You also need to be flexible, not quite the same as a ballet dancer but there are some very challenging positions you will still need to get your body into.
Then there are the développés, extending the leg in the air from bent to straight, the strength you need for these is also developed over time. Rumba walk exercises can help with overall strengthening of the leg and hip muscles in preparation for développés.
So, if you want to strengthen, lengthen and tone your legs into sexy Rumba ready weapons then get practising your Rumba walks!
Don’t forget to let us know how you get on, comment below.
Need some more inspiration?
Here’s a video of Anna Kovalova dancing Rumba with her partner Shinsuke Kanemitsu
And a video of Yulia Zagoruychenko giving a Rumba Walks workshop
Checkout our other post: 10 Top Tips for the forward Rumba walks
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