Group Ex Heats Up IHRSA Show

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zumbablog3.gif Beto Perez leads Zumbathon! I didn't spot any green beer or “Kiss Me, I'm Irish” pins, but there was definitely a party going on St. Patrick's Day night at the San Francisco Marriott.

One of the hotel's ballrooms was the site of the Zumbathon fundraiser for Augie's Quest, the Muscular Dystrophy Association's research initiative, created by fitness industry leader Augie Nieto.

When my colleagues and I stopped by to check out the event on our way back from the IHRSA show, the line of participants waiting to enter the ballroom was long enough to rival a St. Patrick's Day parade. Instead of wearing green, most were clad in “Zumbawear”—brightly colored tank tops and baggy cargo pants with straps hanging from all the pockets.

An estimated 1,300 people showed up for the event, which raised $30,000 for Augie's Quest. Participants had the chance to dance along with the Zumba Fitness program's co-founder, Beto Perez, who was joined on stage by Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, the U.S. surgeon general. Benjamin returned to the same stage on the final day of the IHRSA show to give her keynote speech, “The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation.” She did not don Zumbawear for either appearance.

Back at the Moscone Center, visitors to the exhibition hall had a chance to find out about what some people have called the next Zumba.

Like Zumba, Batuka is a package of pre-choreographed group exercise routines performed to mostly Latin-sounding music. Unlike Zumba, there are no baggy cargo pants.

But there are other differences, too. The all-original music—and the program—were created by Kike Santander, a Grammy Award-winning songwriter and music producer. And in addition to the original dance program, Batuka offers routines that incorporate Pilates and yoga moves (Batuka Zen), elements of boxing, karate and capoeira (Batuka Fight) and a body sculpting program (Batuka Force).

Batuka officially launched at the IHRSA show, and the company will begin to offer workshops in the fall at fitness facilities in the United States and Canada.

I asked Phil Bonomo, Batuka's chief marketing officer, where the new program will fit in this era of Zumbamadness.

“We believe Batuka will niche nicely with other group fitness programs like Zumba and Les Mills,” Bonomo says. “We don't see ourselves as competitors but collaborators for the common good to help people become fitter and happier.”

Speaking of Les Mills, the New Zealand-based company introduced a new program at the IHRSA show. Les Mills CX30 is a 30-minute core-training program that can be scheduled as a standalone class (the short format makes it perfect for lunch-hour time slots) or can be tacked on to the end of other Les Mills routines or cardio classes for a well-rounded workout. CX30 is available for clubs to license now—Gold's Gym called first dibs and will start offering CX30 in 22 of its clubs across the United States starting April 16.

Photos courtesy of Bridget O'Keefe.

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