Over the past couple of months, Healthcare Global has been profiling a number of exercise techniques that have been infiltrating gyms across the globe. Bikram yoga, tabata workouts, and anti-gravity yoga are rapidly increasing in popularity, but as the ‘new kids on the block’ so to speak, it remains to be seen if they are here to stay.
Zumba®, on the other hand, is almost definitely here for the long haul. A fitness programme that is inspired by Latin dance, it was formed by pure chance in the mid-1990s, by Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez. After forgetting the tapes to accompany an aerobics class he was due to teach, Perez improvised with salsa and merengue music he had with him instead, and the rest, they say, is history.
Although Perez found success with Zumba®in his native Columbia, it was not until the early 2000s that exercise really started to catch on. Perez introduced his new style of energising dance-fitness to Miami, America, and after meeting two fellow Columbians; Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, the company Zumba Fitness was formed.
It started off with a range of Zumba®DVDs, and then came an infomercial which introduced the concept of Zumba®and the ‘Zumba Fitness-Party’ to the public on a wider scale. It was from here that the interest in Zumba quickly escalated, and soon the public was craving exercise classes that were taught by specially trained Zumba instructors.
Both the classes and instructors proved to be the key to the fitness programme’s success. By 2005 the Zumba®Academy had been formed and was dedicated to training instructors and licensing classes. Zumbawear™ was next on the agenda for global domination; consisting of clothing, accessories and Zumba®music CDs.
But undoubtedly the turning point came in 2008, with the release of the Zumba Fitness’ Total Body Transformation System DVD series. It quickly became one of the world’s best-selling at-home fitness DVDs ever.
While Zumba Fitness was being propelled to the dizzying height of fitness-world domination, another revolutionary exercise technique was taking hold too, in the form of games consoles. It started off with the Nintendo Wii Fit in late 2007/early 2008, and was followed in November 2010 by Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. Suddenly, games consoles were being used all over the world as a fitness tool, and users were no longer slumped in chairs in a darkened room, they were getting up, getting more active and exercising for hours on end.
So naturally the next step for Zumba Fitness was to release a computer game. Enter Zumba®Fitness for the Wii, Kinect and Sony PS3, which hit the shelves in 2010. Since then, and in a period of less than two years, more than six million copies of Zumba®Fitness have been sold. Majesco Entertainment published the game, which was followed by Zumba®Fitness 2 for the Wii, and more recently, Zumba®Fitness Rush for Xbox Kinect.
Commenting on the launch of the latest game earlier this year in February, Jesse Sutton the CEO of Majesco, said: “With more than six million Zumba®Fitness games sold, we've tapped into a fan base that is excited about an exhilarating dance-fitness experience that yields real fitness results. This game delivers more content than any Zumba®Fitness game to date...and we're proud to share this experience with fans and help players everywhere reach their personal fitness goals.”
Although Zumba®has gripped the world and it has a following of literally millions of enthusiasts, Zumba Fitness is not resting on its laurels and it is determined to continue to grow in popularity. “At Zumba Fitness LLC, our vision is to fill the world's empty rooms with Zumba®classes,” the company states. “Working hand-in-hand with our most dedicated Zumba instructors, together, our goal is to spread the philosophy of health and happiness and of loving everything you do, especially your workout.”
In total there are eight different types of Zumba®classes, helping to maximise its appeal to the masses. ‘Zumba®Fitness’ is probably the most common and is based on the original Zumba Fitness-Party model.
Meanwhile there is ‘Zumba Gold®’, which is adapted to suit the older generations, and ‘Zumbatomic®’, which is designed specifically for children aged four to 12. There is also ‘Zumba®Toning’, which incorporates the use of Toning sticks to define the arms, legs and stomach, and ‘Zumba®Gold-Toning’, which again, is matched to the fitness needs of the baby boomers.
‘Aqua Zumba®’ is, as it sounds, a Zumba®workout in water, while ‘Zumba®in the Circuit’ is a 30 minute, high intensity combination of Zumba and circuit training. Finally, ‘Zumba Sentao™’ is a chair-based Zumba workout which focuses on strengthening and balancing your core.
Fads in the diet and fitness world often come and go, and what is popular becomes history tomorrow. But there is something about Zumba®that is different. It has evolved into the world’s largest and most successful dance-fitness programme ever. Across the world there are 12 million people taking part in Zumba, whether it is through their games console, at their local gym, or by following the steps on their at-home fitness DVD. And with Zumba®classes taking place in more than 110,000 in over 125 countries, Zumba isn’t going anywhere fast.
A Zumba Fitness-Concert at the 2011 Annual Zumba Instructor Convention