Beto Perez, founder of the popular dance-based exercise routine Zumba, will be in the city to host India’s largest Zumba workshop on February 1. The 45-year-old fitness expert talks about this exercise in disguise
Q. It’s been over a decade since you conceptualised Zumba. How has it evolved since then, and have you modified anything, to keep up with the times?
A. Over the years, we have created new Zumba specialty programmes, including workouts for active older adults and children, and even a programme that takes Zumba to the water, called Aqua Zumba. We continue to innovate our educational platform for our instructors, providing them with e-learning programmes to better their skills, introducing new rhythms and choreography on a monthly basis, and team up with new musicians, DJs and producers.
Q. Describe Zumba in one sentence to an absolute newbie.
A. Let It Move You! It speaks to the feeling of what Zumba brings out in a person, both in the class and long after it’s over.
Q. What exactly led to you developing Zumba and what’s the idea behind the word ‘Zumba’?
A. I have always had a passion for dancing and was an aerobics instructor for many years in my hometown of Cali, Colombia. Though it was a happy accident, it makes sense that I merged my two passions of teaching aerobics and dancing without even realising it. One day, I walked into my aerobics class and realised I had forgotten my music, leaving me only the option of utilising random musical cassette tapes from my backpack. Those tapes comprised of the songs I loved best — an array of traditional Salsa and Merengue. I rose to the challenge of improvising an entire class on the spot utilising non-traditional aerobics music — and from this, the Zumba fitness-party was born. They left class that day saying, “Let’s do the ‘new class’ again tomorrow!” In 2001, entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion approached me, and the Zumba brand was born. We zeroed in on the word Zumba after going through the alphabet since ‘rumba’, our original pick, was already trademarked. The word Zumba has no meaning. We made it up because it sounded catchy.
Q. Could you give us a few popular names and in what way have they benefited from Zumba?
A. Jordin Sparks lost weight with Zumba; I’ve seen that First Lady Michelle Obama recently did a class when she was in Miami, and we know Shakira loves Zumba, and even took classes after she had her baby. I have also collaborated with musicians who are passionate about Zumba and music, like Pitbull, Wyclef Jean, Lil Jon, Don Omar, Vanilla Ice, Daddy Yankee, Shakira and many more.
Q. What are the common misconceptions about Zumba?
A. Many think that because it’s such fun, it isn’t a real workout. But the fact is that you can burn up to 1,000 calories in one class depending on how hard you challenge yourself. People are also intimidated by anything that involves dancing, but once they join a class, they realise we designed the choreography such that it’s repetitive and broken down easily, so once you do a few songs, you easily begin to catch on to the formula.
Q. Are there any Indian songs that you love to do Zumba to?
A. There are two Zumba original Hindi songs that I love using in my Zumba classes: Indian Moonshine and Hindo Cumen.
B1 training February 1, 8.30 am to 5.30 pm (Priced at $220 per person. Aprrox Rs 13,532)
Log on to: www.zumba.com
Masterclass February 1, 7 pm to 8.30 pm (Priced at Rs 1,000 per person)