Thursday 24th April 2014
Club Solutions Magazine

Zumba CEO Moves Your Members

CS Interview with Alberto Perlman, the CEO of Zumba Fitness, LLC.

>>>In 1999, Zumba creator Beto brought his new dance-fitness style to Miami, Fla., and in 2001, through a student (my mom) I had the chance to meet Beto. She had an idea that maybe I could start a gym with him (I was previously in an e-commerce business and had no idea why my mom thought I could run a fitness business).  I reluctantly went to see his class and was amazed by the people lining up to take it — they were even clapping, cheering and screaming for more. I thought, “This is more than a fitness class, this is something else.” I called a friend who is great at operations, Alberto Aghion. Together with Beto we trademarked the word “Zumba.”  Now, the Zumba program is taught in gyms all over the world to millions of Zumba enthusiasts. And, as the program continues to evolve — from its humble beginnings to a global movement — its growth has only deepened our commitment to providing accessible fitness, without the strain and sacrifice, just the pure joy of a fitness-party.

>>>I originally didn’t envision classes at gyms, but rather an opportunity in at-home fitness. Once it became an infomercial product, it led to live classes and instructor inquiries. We had an infectious program and today more than 12 million people are proving that on a weekly basis.

We bring people into the fitness industry and change lives. Our instructors have made careers of Zumba Fitness by becoming a part of our Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN). Due to the popularity of the Zumba program, many gyms experience membership spikes and the opportunity to open up more clubs. The program has also become a launching pad for charity fundraising. We have executed many campaigns raising over one million dollars for charities like Susan G. Komen, Augie`s Quest and the American Heart Association.

>>>We help clubs save money because we don’t charge licensing fees. We help clubs make money because Zumba Fitness targets new members that fall within a completely different demographic of people who may not join a fitness facility to begin with. There is also the social aspect where class members become friends and want to get together after their workout to grab coffee. A treadmill is a treadmill no matter where you go, but your friends in a Zumba class are irreplaceable and gym owners will notice member retention because of this. Regarding benefits, we have different specialties within the Zumba program that suit all hours of the day: Zumba classes are held during prime hours (morning and evening); Zumba Gold classes are usually taught in the early afternoon; the Zumbatomic program for kids is taught right after school. We can fill the clubs at off hours and bring in new members. We spend millions on advertising leading people to zumba.com which directs you to our class locator where anyone can find a gym nearby that offers a Zumba class.

>>>Any program that gets people to the gym and moving is good for the industry and humanity. What’s unique about the Zumba program is that it’s very authentic — it stemmed from Beto’s passion for teaching and dancing and has since been perfected. We all have a basic human need to express ourselves and Zumba fitness provides a judgment-free platform to do so. This need is universal and as long as that basic human need exists, Zumba fitness will continue to be a safe-haven for people who want to have a blast and express themselves through movement. That’s why we have such a strong global community of supporters. We also spend tens of millions of dollars on marketing, which in turn drives members into clubs.

>>>Every project we bring to the table and everything we do has the goal of driving more people to classes. Whether it’s our DVDs, infomercial or video game, the message always remains constant.

>>>We are currently in 110,000 locations in more than 125 countries.

>>>Zumba Fitness will continue to be a worldwide movement. Right now we have 12 million people taking classes every week, but our goal is to get to 100 million. As a lifestyle brand, music is our key ingredient. We are collaborating with some of the biggest artists — from Africa and India, to Latin America and Europe — to create some of the most amazing fusion of music which will keep Zumba classes exhilarating and fresh. We are also investing heavily in the marketing of our current specialty programs like Zumbatomic, Aqua Zumba, Zumba Toning and Zumba Gold, and launching a new specialty program this year that we think clubs will love. Be on the lookout!

>>>It’s all about the social gym experience and shifting the mindset that going to the gym is work. Instead, we want to make it an experience that everyone will love and look forward to. We want it to be your home-away-from-home — a place where you make new friends, learn new things and most importantly learn to live a healthier and fitter lifestyle.

>>>We truly believe that Zumba Fitness is changing the way people think about exercising. As Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author and keynote speaker at IHRSA said, “We need to reframe physical activity from difficult and onerous into something that brings social dividends, is enjoyable as an opportunity to spend time with people and something that is fun.” I can’t sum it up much better than that.

>>>Outside of the fitness industry? It would be something really innovative — maybe in the technology space. The truth is that working with Zumba Fitness and knowing that you are changing lives is amazing.  I couldn’t see myself doing anything else right now. -CS

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