What is in this article?:
- Zumba Fitness Founders Still Thinking Big Picture
- Room to Grow
Club Industry talks to the creator and CEO of Zumba Fitness about their company and vision for the future.
Zumba Fitness co-founder Beto Perez leads the Sentao Zumbathon at the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association show in March at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The event raised $200,000 to benefit Augie's Quest. Photo courtesy of IHRSA.
Would you like to see Zumba: The Movie? How about Zumba: The Broadway Musical?
Those big dreams could become a reality sooner than you think. Zumba Fitness co-founder Alberto "Beto" Perez said as much in an interview last month at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) show in Las Vegas.
The story of Beto Perez is one worthy of the big screen. From sleeping a couple of nights in a Miami park not long after he arrived from his native Colombia to helping run a multi-million dollar international business with 14 million participants in more than 185 countries, Perez admits that his life has been the American dream.
"When I was 16 years old, 17 years old, I discovered this class by accident," Perez said, referring to the time as a dance instructor in Colombia when he forgot his aerobics music and instead played his salsa and merengue tapes. "When I taught this class for the first time, after the class, I thought, 'I want to do this for the rest of my life.'"
It is hard to keep up with the always-moving Perez, and it has been hard to keep up with the honors and recognition Zumba Fitness has received in recent months. Last year, Inc. magazine named Zumba Fitness its Company of the Year, and Perez landed on the magazine's cover. The magnitude of the honor did not sink in with Perez at first.
"I was so busy at that time," Perez says. "Somebody came up to me and said, 'Beto, you're going to be on the cover of a magazine, Inc.' I didn't have an idea of how big Inc. magazine was. I know Men's Health, all these kinds of magazines. I didn't know we were the company of the year. At that moment, I couldn't believe it."
At the IHRSA show, Zumba Fitness received the John McCarthy Industry Visionary Award, presented to an individual or a company who has made a major contribution to the advancement of the club industry. The honor was especially sweet for co-founder and CEO Alberto Perlman, who remembers a time more than 10 years ago when the club industry rejected Zumba.
"At the beginning, the fitness industry was tough on us because the fitness industry has seen many things come and go," Perlman said at the IHRSA show. "So when we started calling gyms trying to get our instructors' jobs, at the beginning they would say, 'No.' We called up all the big chains, and they would say, 'No.' And to be here at IHRSA winning this award and to have every single big chain in the world now employing Zumba instructors and all these independent gyms now employing Zumba instructors, it's a huge thing for us. It's a dream come true."
Founded in 2001, Zumba Fitness, according to Inc., has a reported valuation of more than $500 million, although the Hallandale, FL-based company does not release revenue figures. Last year, Zumba Fitness received an undisclosed amount of financing from The Raine Group and Insight Venture Partners. Zumba Fitness has sold more than 12 million at-home fitness DVDs, and last year, the company sold four million pieces of apparel and accessories.