Should a Christian practice Zumba? Zumba Fitness is a relatively new dance and fitness program that is gaining a following in the United States. According to the official Zumba website, it is self-described as “Pretty much the most awesome workout ever. Dance to great music, with great people, and burn a ton of calories without even realizing it.”
Some Christians have enrolled in Zumba classes, and I’ve even read that some churches (possibly liberal ones) are also offering Zumba classes.
The questions every Christian should ask about any given activity, however, are these: “Would God want me to do this? Is there anything about this activity that conflicts with what the Bible commands? Is there anything about this activity that is sinful or could lead to sin?”
God’s Stance on Exercise
It may be helpful to first realize that God certainly isn’t against exercise, running, aerobics, or stretching. The Bible says that we are temples for the Holy Spirit, and we should all treat our bodies well so that we may glorify God with our bodies:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Next, God’s word clearly tells us that there is a benefit to exercising. Consider this passage from the Apostle Paul:
1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
In the passage above, Paul tells us that exercising the body is beneficial, but godliness is FAR more beneficial than exercise because it gives us the promise of eternal life. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul often used references to exercise or sports activities that were popular in his day, such as running a race (1 Corinthians 9:24) and boxing (1 Corinthians 9:26).
So it is clear that there is nothing wrong with exercise, and it is actually encouraged in the scriptures. In fact, my wife and I exercise about 3-5 times per week with weights, an elliptical machine, and so forth. Science also tells us that exercise has numerous benefits.
However, there are potential problems with certain exercise programs. Yoga, for example, is riddled with pagan philosophies. It is clearly a sin for Christians to practice Yoga, but what about Zumba? Are there any potential problems with it?
Potential Christian Problems with Zumba
There are definitely some problems that can arise when a Christian attends a Zumba session:
Potentially Sinful Secular Music
Obviously we can listen to secular songs as Christians. When you get saved, not every song you listen to has to be about Jesus. However, Zumba exercises are often performed alongside fast-paced music that may contain sexually suggestive lyrics. In addition, it appears that Zumba instructors can also individualize each lesson and music playlists, and some of these playlists could contain profanity, sexual innuendo, and so forth. This seems to be fairly common. This would clearly be wrong for a Christian to listen to while alone, much less in a class with the opposite sex, as the Bible clearly warns us:
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (underlining mine)
The Bible makes it clear that we should not be using filthy or sexually suggestive language, and we certainly shouldn’t be listening or dancing to it, either. By the way, if you want to watch an interesting movie about how Satan is using music to infiltrate society, look up a movie on YouTube titled, “They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll,” by Joe Schimmel. It does a good job of exposing satanic and demonic influences present in a lot of our modern music.
Sexual Dance Moves and Immodest Clothing
Latin dance moves from “salsa” and “mambo” (among others) are incorporated in the choreography of the exercise lessons. These dances are somewhat provocative in nature. However, when you combine that with the fact that many individuals participating wear provocative clothing, this becomes even more of a problem. In fact, when I was looking at Zumba’s official website, many women pictured there were wearing low-cut clothing that exposed cleavage, as well as very tight pants or shorts.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with wearing that type of clothing at home, it’s obviously a sin to parade around, dance, shake, jump, and so forth in a room filled with sweaty men and women (married or otherwise). Here’s what the Bible (God’s commands for the Christian) has to say about such behavior:
1 Timothy 2:9-10 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Titus 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Wearing skimpy outfits while jumping, shaking, twisting, and so forth really isn’t any different than going to some club and dancing in the same way. There’s nothing wrong with dancing and shaking in your own home or with your own spouse in privacy, but it certainly isn’t what God asks of the Christian woman or man in the Bible. Trust me, I know the world recognizes that kind of behavior as “normal” or even “fun.” But the Christian should seek to live a holy life. Be in the world, not of it!
Dancing around in that kind of apparel is sure to get some lustful looks from the opposite sex (or in today’s age, the same sex!). I’ve heard men brag about going to gyms, dance clubs, and so forth to look at girls. In fact, that leads my to my final point…
Sexual Prostitution Allegations by a Zumba Instructor
Apparently there were allegations of a prostitution ring by a fitness instructor that taught Zumba classes in 2013, and the woman was eventually sentenced to 10 months in jail after pleading guilty. According to news reports, she was also video taping people without their knowledge, and keeping detailed records of ‘clients.’
While this was obviously an isolated incident, it raises some questions about the atmosphere at some Zumba fitness centers.
Conclusion: Christians Should Beware of Exercise Fads
There are many wonderful ways to exercise, and God certainly isn’t against us keeping our bodies healthy. However, we must not follow the pattern of the world. We should seek to be chaste, modest, and inconspicuous in our apparel and conduct. According to the scriptures, Christian women have no business dressing in immodest apparel publicly, dancing around in a potentially sexually suggesting manner, lusting after others, and so forth. Neither do men.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to Zumba instructors or the Zumba Fitness program, but there are Biblical concerns for the Christian with such a program. I’d exhort Christians to seek a more modest way to burn those calories. If your church has unknowingly introduced this program, I’d point out some of these facts to the congregation.
In closing, have you accepted Christ as your savior? The Bible teaches that all have fallen short of God’s glory. We’re all sinners who need a savior. You can become saved right now by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. When you place your faith in Christ, you will be saved from your sins and inherit eternal life in Christ Jesus.
May the Lord Bless you.