This is an exclusive interview with Beto, founder of the Zumba programme and one of the most charming men in the fitness world, at the UK’s first Zumba Instructor Conference at ExCel London. Interviewers were Rebecca Rogoff of ZumbaFunk in London, providing Zumba to Putney (specialising in Mums and babies) and myself. Beto is really an amazing guy so no surprise Zumba is so popular. Read this interview and watch the video too!
The name ‘Zumba®’ (pronounced ‘zoomba’) derives from a Colombian word which means ‘to move fast and have fun’ and this pretty much sums it up in a nutshell.
It originated in Miami and was created by dancer and choreographer Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez in the 1990s. Zumba® incorporates a selection of Latin-inspired dance fitness programs which envelops more and more world music but is primarily based on the South American dance moves of Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Reggaeton.
In 2001, the Zumba® wave rocked America and since then has been enthusiastically welcomed in more than 110,000 locations in approximately 125 countries, with over 12 million users of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels using Zumba® on a weekly basis being taught by more than 30,000 instructors. And it’s still growing – with very good reason.
I teach Zumba® Fitness in SW London and every single class I teach I get to observe a sea of smiley faces. My students receive a fabulous cardio and muscular workout without even noticing. As instructors, our job is to ensure that the entire class is comfortable, happy and having a crazy amount of fun – and that’s pretty easy to do!
The first Zumba® Instructors Conference has just been hosted at The Excel Centre in London. It was an enormous and highly anticipated 3 day event offering workshops in the various forms of Zumba® (Zumba Sentao™ (means ‘sitting’ in Spanish), Zumbatomic®, Zumba Gold®, Aqua Zumba®, Zumba®Toning), Brazilian dance classes alongside marketing and entrepreneurial classes designed to help instructors promote their business.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by ‘London Mums’ magazine to attend the convention and meet with the man himself, Beto Perez and one of his fellow dancers, Gina Grant and to learn a little more about what makes such an inspiring man tick and what we Zumba® lovers can look forward to in the future. I also wanted to find out how Gina Grant, single mum of 4, both looks incredible and manages to juggle such a busy work/home balance and come out on top and smiling!
I wasn’t disappointed, both Beto and Gina proved to charming, warm and informative and I left with my love for all things Zumba® blazing even brighter than it was before.
R: Hi Beto, our readers would love to know what’s next for Zumba®?
B: Next, we have many many plans! We have just launched Zumba Sentao™ (dancing using a chair as a prop). London is holding the first training of this, but this is a process, it takes one or two years for the program to take form. We have plans to support more of the speciality programs and also our other new project in Zumba® is to launch new (musical) artists. We already work with established artists but feel we can use the Zumba platform to promote new artists such as Mara from Colombia who’s music we already use in Zumba®.
This project is very personal to me because I love music.
R: I know you worked with Pitbull and Shakira, how about the fabulous J-Lo?
B: No, not J-Lo, I know she takes classes in New York, but not with me, with other instructors.
R: Do you still take classes yourself?
B: Yes! I teach my classes when I’m in Miami, 2 or 3 regular classes. For me, it’s important to teach classes, to retain contact with the people. I love this.
R: How about Zumba® for kids?
B: Yes, we have a program Zumbatomic® for kids. We try to provide exercise in a fun way. We are also working on a new program providing Zumba® for mums and babies using drums This is new, we’re working on this project. We don’t have a name yet.
R: What other sports do you enjoy? Tennis? Golf?
B: I love sports. I love soccer but I don’t play because I work with my legs. I need to be careful. But I have my personal training and I run on South Beach. But I do all my Zumba® programs, I dance about 4 hours per day. But I’m 41 and I think I’m doing ok!
R: Do you do yoga or anything else to balance out the cardio?
B: I need to do more yoga, or stretching, because my body really needs it right now.
Yoga and Zumba® have a special connection. Before, exercise classes consisted of ‘step’ classes, weights, kick boxing – now I think there’s a new way of aerobics: Zumba®, yoga, Pilates – it’s a new age.
More fun, more spirituality, more feeling.
Before, the message was ‘no pain, no gain’ – no, for me it’s “ have fun, you see results”. The most important thing for us in Zumba® is to have fun. Smile. If you smile in a positive way, you body answers in a positive way – cosmic equation. People don’t come to a Zumba® class just to lose weight, they come to have fun! After the class, I often have people telling me “Beto, I don’t need to have a coffee, after (the class) I have energy for the whole day”.
R: Beto, I know you’re busy and have a tight schedule today, but before you go, can I ask you a few quick one word questions?
B: (big smile) sure!
R: Baseball or American Football?
B: (long thoughtful pause) American Football
R: Ok, American Football or British soccer?
B: (no pause at all!) British soccer of course! No really, I love that!
R: finally.. blondes or brunettes?
B: (stunned silence, than laughs) I love them all!
And here is the live video. Check this guy! Amazing!
Take a look at Zumba Queen Gina Grant demo for Zumbatomic, Zumba for kids:
A big thank you to Rebecca who has written this up after our meeting with Beto www.zumbafunk.com
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London http://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums