The story behind the Zumba dance

With more than 12 million people around the world getting involved with a Zumba class or at-home DVD, there must be something you’ve missed if you’re not joining in! Classes usually last up to an hour and the high-octane dance will see some serious moves as the participants make their way through the routines, all choreographed to upbeat and fast-paced music. If an honest mistake hadn’t have been made, then there could have possibly been no Zumba to date. So who is the person behind one of the now biggest fitness crazes?

The happy accident

Zumba’s origin began as a complete accident when creator Alberto Perez was on his way to teach a dance class. The Columbian choreographer and dance instructor was working as a fitness trainer to the stars when he was running late to his next dance class. Alberto realized he had mistakenly forgotten to pick up the mixtape with the music for the class on it, but did have one with salsa music in his car so decided to roll with it instead. He turned up and improvised the whole class with dancing and aerobics that left everyone overwhelmed with the new class they had just experienced, and they loved it!

Into development

Alberto began to practice the moves as well as beginning to teach the classes to mix up the usual dances they were used to doing. Out of the blue, he contacted two other Albertos and the three amigos set about refining the routines to get consistency. In 2001 they named their creation Zumba to try and entice people in by making it sound as fun as it was to do! DVDs were produced and available to the general public in the early 2000s which propelled the popularity of the new craze as people were now able to take the routine into their homes.

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So, is it a Latin dance?

There have been some criticisms from Latin dancers over the year over whether Zumba is indeed a Latin dance or not. The dance uses moves from dances such as the cumbia, merengue, samba and the salsa, but is not strictly a Latin dance. In Zumba classes, the atmosphere is designed to feel like one big dance party, whereas in Latin dances it is about being more precise with movements and usually involves dancing with a partner. However, most people have credited how Zumba has brought more attention to the style of music and dance which has only enhanced its popularity. Even though there are crossovers between the two forms, they fall into two different genres.

Modern Zumba

Over the years this craze has hit incredible popularity as an exercise regime. The dance is often best performed in a group as the real atmosphere comes out and it creates an overwhelming buzz in the room. Zumba is often thought as being designed for young, fit people to partake in, but it has now been designed to cater for all levels of fitness as well as being able to be done by anyone of any age. The dance routines have been tailored to make sure the dancer gets a full body workout and that you won’t walk away without sweating.


Burning calories, having fun, and not even knowing that you’re doing it sounds like our kind of exercise class. We’re thankful that there was a mix up of the tapes or us and the 12 million other people around the world would have nowhere to go on a Saturday morning. With the popularity continuing to grow it is definitely worth signing up for a local class and joining in.