The Colombian behind Zumba, a millionaire business that turns 20 | Trends

Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto ‘Beto’ Pérez, the creator of zumba, affirms to Efe that the main reason that this form of exercise has spread throughout the world in 20 years is that it is “easy, fun and effective” and, as if that were not enough, it has Latin music.

(Read: Zumba: millionaire business that does not slow down)

Pérez, born in Cali (Colombia) 51 years ago, had the idea of transform gyms on dance floors for people to exercise to the rhythm of salsa, cumbia or merengue and in 2001 he brought it to Miami.

With the help of two partners, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, Pérez later turned this aerobic discipline into a big business, Zumba Fitness, with a presence in almost 200 countries and 15 million practitioners every week.

I have always said that the key to success is to occupy a space that is not occupied“This dance and music lover tells Efe that he is still” passionate “about giving Zumba classes, a word he uses without an article, because – he needs – it is not something feminine or masculine.

In 2001 there was nothing in the world of “fitness “en EE.UU. that he will incorporate music and dance to aerobics as he had already done in Colombia, but also in those years the Latin was beginning to become fashionable in the American show.


“We stopped being the murderers, the service girls, the ‘cheesies’ (cloying), the cheap ones and the criminals and we went up one more step in the world of entertainment,” he recalls.

Pérez mentions that that year Ricky Martin triumphed at the MTV awards with “Livin la vida loca”, Jennifer López played the life of Selena Quintanilla in the movies and Shakira appeared.

I arrived at the right time, with the right people and to the perfect city, Miami“, he asserts in an interview via Zoom. Twenty years later, the” great family “of Zumba practitioners and instructors continues to grow, says” Beto “Pérez, who enthusiastically announces that this month he will open his own gym in Miami to teach classes personally.

One of his references is the actress Jane Fonda, who in the 80s became world famous with her videos of aerobic exercises. Pérez says that Zumba preserves the legacy of Fonda’s early days, when those who did their exercises had fun and did not suffer.

Zumba is the “funniest way to exercise“, so much so that people do not realize that they are doing it and do not associate it with” torture or sacrifice “, but with positive things such as” party, friendship, happiness, rhythm and music, “he adds.

The famous maxim “No pain, no gain”, made fashionable by Jane Fonda in the 80s, is the antithesis of the exercises proposed by Zumba Fitness.

Pérez recalls that at the beginning for marketing reasons it was emphasized that zumba helped to lose weight, while now it is emphasized that dancing produces endorphins, substances that the body produces and are associated with well-being and joy.

“Zumba Step into Happy“, something like” take a happy step with zumba “, is the motto that today appears on the company’s social networks, whose success is also due, according to Pérez, to the fact that he and his partners were in a certain way” visionaries ” .

Zumba practitioners were given the possibility “not only to buy DVDs”, but to become instructors at the company’s academy and to be part of a community that once a year holds a congress in Orlando (Florida). points out.


Today there are 20,000 places in the world where Zumba classes are taught, says the Colombian choreographer proudly, who by company policy does not talk about the finances of a business valued at several hundred million dollars according to specialized media.

Understanding from the beginning that to have “good music” you have to invest a lot of time and money and that you have to adapt to new musical trends is another of the successes of Zumba Fitness, according to Pérez.

The dancer and choreographer highlights that for their videos they produce their own themes and in these twenty years they have discovered talents, had successes that crossed the borders of the
world “fitness” as “Caiprinha” and served as a platform for many artists, in addition to collaborating with celebrities such as Daddy Yankee, Jennifer López, Carlos Vives, Shakira or Claudia Leite, among others.

Pérez believes that “the future of music is fusion“and he has promoted the convergence of different rhythms, such as pasodoble, tango, bachata, salsa, cumbia or reggaeton, in Zumba productions.

In addition, he fights a particular war so that in his classes the urban genre “does not invade everything” and that essential Latin rhythms such as salsa, cumbia or merengue are left out, without which the result “is not zumba”.

They also take care of “cleaning” reggaeton so that their lyrics are suitable for an exercise in which, as a matter of principle, it is intended to include all kinds of people. Pérez is tired of being asked what will become of his “invention” in 10 or 15 years and says that fortunately the music changes and hums with it.




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