Stardom in the Midst of a Chaotic Economy; Alberto Perez, is the King of Zumba.
He is Going, Going, Going.
Creator of Zumba, Alberto Beto Perez is a native of Colombia who loves to make marketable moves and has found his way as a choreographer for Shakira and other celebrities. His Zumba creation is a style of aerobics dance moves that uses Latin inspired dance steps such as Salsa, Merengue, Flamenco, and Samba. Created by accident in the streets of Columbia, Perez’s aerobics class became the most popular class in his country and named it, “Rumbacize.”
Arriving in Miami in 1999, two young entrepreneurs convinced him to change the name of his workout and begin marketing his fitness philosophy throughout the world. Our very own editor, Mavian Arocha was the first to grant him an interview in 1999 and featured him in Channels magazine, after being introduced to him by his makeup artist, Nancy Rand of Touch Cosmetics.
By 2008 the small aerobic fitness company had well over 20,000 certified instructors and DVD sales in excess of $3 million. Recently, the company opened its doors in China and has representatives in over 40 different countries. Perez is now aligned with Mark Burnett productions, of “Survivor,” and Emilio Estefan, to begin marketing the fitness dance products in the Hispanic market via television.
If you didn’t think “rags to riches” stories were still a reality; think again…We are surrounded by these miracles. We just need to ask the right questions so we can study their moves.
STRATEGY: What is Zumba?
Perez: Zumba is a party! It’s happiness, life, joy and the advantage of exercising, without thinking or feeling that you are actually working out.
STRATEGY: How did you create the moves?
Perez: What I did was combine exotic moves of dancing with the benefits or fitness.
STRATEGY: Who is your target audience?
Perez: Women, men, and all ages, but women specifically. Women that don’t want to go to a club to enjoy themselves and put each other at risk with everything that goes on in a club. Instead, they can take a class with their friends and burn off the extra weight and calories by having fun.
STRATEGY: Why do you believe Zumba has gotten such fame?
Perez: We are in a different era where people want to look good, but let’s face it, we want results fast and we are lazy to spend hours in the gym to make it possible. Gym managers have told me that people would sign up for the gym in January and never show up to work out after the New Year’s resolution crave. Now, people sign up for the gym when they notice Zumba is one of the many classes offered, and they come. We are also in an era where your fitness instructor screams at you. Why? That’s not necessary…it should be about having fun and feeling good. The music is contagious and Zumba is truly a party!
STRATEGY: When did begin to crave and practice dancing?
Perez: You may laugh at this, but when “Saturday Night Fever” first launched, I learned John Travolta’s moves and began to teach them to my friends in Cali. That’s where my passion began, I was seven years old. My mom wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor and was worried about me being a dancer and thought it would be hard for me to succeed.
STRATEGY: Why did you decide to come to the States?
Perez: I would see magazines from Miami and my obsession began to grow to come to America, and especially Miami. I felt the city calling my name, “Beto, Beto, come to Miami.”
STRATEGY: Was it tough at first?
Perez: When I first arrived, I would sleep in the benches at parks and yet, I was happy because I was in sleeping in park benches, in Miami, not Colombia.
STRATEGY: When was your breakthrough?
Perez: After two years, I met two wonderful women that believed in me and brought me to stardom. After that, it was all the way up from there. Even the Miami’s Mayor gave me a proclamation and dedicated December 3rd to “Zumba Day.”
STRATEGY: Tell us something you wanted aside from Zumba in America?
Perez: I told my mom when I was younger that I would own a vintage Harley and although she isn’t in the States to see it, I bought it and I dedicate to her.
STRATEGY: What’s next?
Perez: When I first arrived to America and came off the plane, I told myself I would conquer this country, and I think I have. Now, I want to conquer the world and who can tell me I can’t?