GoRecess Playground Pro: Alberto “Beto” Perez, Founder & Creative Director of Zumba Fitness®
Studio Where He Teaches: When he’s not traveling the world visiting Zumba Instructors and fans across the globe, Beto teaches at BASS (Brickell Art and Soul Studio) in Miami on Wednesdays at 7:30
Hometown: Cali, Colombia
Background: Beto Perez is the Founder and creative inspiration behind the wildly successful Zumba Program. In 2001, Beto brought his new dance-fitness style to Miami, Florida, and through a student (Alberto Perlman’s mom), met entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. All three Albertos hailed from Colombia and shared a vision to bring this dynamic dance-fitness class to the masses. They formed an alliance and created a business, calling it Zumba Fitness. They trademarked the word Zumba® and set a goal to expand the brand all over the world.
First came the DVDs, then the infomercial – which introduced the Zumba Fitness party to the public on a wide-scale basis – then came the demand for Zumba classes and Zumba Instructors. By 2005, Zumba Fitness spawned a full-fledged Zumba Academy™ to license Zumba Instructors to teach Zumba classes. More expansion followed with the launch of Zumba wear™ apparel and accessories, music CDs, and in 2008, one of the best-selling at-home fitness DVD series ever – the Zumba Fitness® Total Body Transformation System – which starred Beto and introduced Zumba Fitness’ newest stars, Tanya Beardsley and Gina Grant. In 2010, Zumba shook the ground (once again) by being the first branded fitness program to launch a video game on all three major gaming platforms: Wii, Xbox, and PS3. The video franchise has now sold over 7 million games worldwide.
Since its inception in 2001, the Zumba program has grown to become the world's largest and most successful dance-fitness program with more than 12 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.
ABOUT ZUMBA FITNESS®
What exactly is Zumba®? Zumba® is an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, international-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™ that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health. Zumba Fitness® is the only international-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a "fitness-party" that is downright addictive.
What inspired you to create Zumba®? As a fitness instructor in my native Cali, Colombia, my life took an unexpected turn one fateful day in the mid-'90s when I darted off to teach an aerobics class and forgot my traditional aerobics music. I improvised using my own mix of music from tapes I had in my backpack (salsa and merengue music I grew up with). Spontaneously, I created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move you (instead of counting reps over the music). Energy electrified the room; people couldn't stop smiling. My class loved it! And on that day, a revolutionary new fitness concept was born – the Zumba® Fitness Party.
What is your vision for Zumba®? Our vision is to fill the world's empty rooms with Zumba® classes. Working hand-in-hand with our most dedicated Zumba Instructors (called ZIN™ members), together, our goal is to spread the philosophy of health, happiness and of loving everything you do, especially your workout.
Do you have to be a good dancer to take a Zumba® class? You do not have to be a dancer at all to enjoy a Zumba class. My advice to students is to join the party and get moving! Zumba Fitness is about feeling the music and enjoying your workout. We encourage students to enjoy themselves - there’s no pressure to do every move perfectly.
What advice do you have for someone who is trying a Zumba®class for the first time? For those who prefer to take a Zumba class in the comfort of their own homes, our Exhilarate™ Body Shaping System is the perfect start. It really brings the Zumba experience home. The multiple-disc DVD collection is unlike any at-home fitness program. It’s packed with contagious routines set to a blend of international rhythms and each disk offers a different experience. Examples of discs include “Mix”, an international fitness-party experience featuring new dance styles and traditionally adorned representatives from cultures all over the world, and “Rush” which is a 20-minute express workout for those on the go.
You can also check out our Zumba Fitness Video Games if you are looking to warm up in the privacy of your living room. The Zumba® Fitness video game collection includes the original Zumba® Fitness game: the number one fitness title of 2011, its sequel, Zumba® Fitness 2 and Zumba® Fitness Rush, the most technologically advanced, feature-rich Zumba® Fitness video game to date. Zumba® Fitness video games feature hot music tracks, electrifying choreography and many dance styles to move along to at home!
There’s nothing like the energy of a live Zumba class, and there’s no pressure to get the moves perfect. Anyone can take a class so I encourage you to just jump in there and find a class near you!
How many calories can you burn in an average Zumba Fitness® class? While an hour-long Zumba class can burn anywhere from 500-1,000 calories, the Zumba program is about more than just losing weight. When a person takes a Zumba class they don’t just see a change in fitness level and body shape – their happiness, self-esteem and confidence are also affected in a really positive way. It becomes a part of people’s lives and something that they look forward to every week. It’s exercise in disguise.
GETTING TO KNOW BETO
What's your most memorable teaching moment? I once taught a class to women in Malaysia dressed in burkas and I couldn’t see their faces. So I was nervous about gauging their reactions if I couldn’t detect smiles. By the end of the class, they were jumping up and clapping. I didn’t have to see the women’s faces to know they were smiling.
If you could give GoRecess users one piece of fitness advice what would it be? Have perseverance. It allows you to challenge yourself so you are determined to succeed.
Your “go-to” workout songs? Music is the heart and soul of the Zumba program. This is where our slogan "Ditch the workout, join the party" comes into play and can be experienced through music. The whole foundation of a Zumba class is its music – that’s what makes it so fun, like exercise in disguise. People say that Zumba classes don’t feel like workouts. They feel like parties and the music plays a very strong role in creating this atmosphere. Music is the key ingredient!
Some of my favorite songs to work out to are: (click the links to check out the videos and iTunes links)
- "Ice Ice Baby" (Zumba Remix) by Vanilla Ice: We just launched our own remix to this hip-hop classic. It has always been a fan favourite, but now with a modern twist, and hot Zumba choreography to accompany the song, it is better than ever.
- "Zumba" by Don Omar: Because of his love for the fitness program, the Latin Grammy winner created a hot new song called "Zumba". Many of his songs are favorites in Zumba classes.
- "Pause" by Pitbull: This is an awesome, catchy song. The choreography is simple and sexy! Pitbull and Zumba make a great team.
- "Dance, Dance, Dance" by Zumba Fitness®: It’s a cool hip-hop song
- "Caipirinha" by Zumba Fitness®: This is one of our biggest hits worldwide. It’s a fun song with exotic choreography!
What do you eat/not eat? When I have a concert coming up, I usually follow a very strict diet and after the concert I treat myself with chicken soup and a banana split.
Favorite things to do in Miami? I like to work out in the open air at South Pointe Park, at the tip of South Beach (1 Washington Avenue). I like jogging and enjoying the view - the park runs parallel to the port of Miami so you can see the cruise ships coming in and out.