Exercise in Disguise

By Edeline Anne Goh

The Zumba® Story

The story of how Alberto “Beto” Perez, discovered Zumba® Fitness could be a happy accident or pure luck. Either way, Zumba® Fitness has turned countless couch potatoes into fitness enthusiasts, which is no small feat!

Beto was an ordinary aerobics instructor but his life took an unexpected turn when he forgot to take his traditional aerobics music to class one day. In the spur of the moment, he decided to make use of the songs he had in his bag, which included Latin American salsa and merengue music.

Originally from Columbia, this was the kind of music Beto grew up with. He impulsively created a new fitness routine for the class, which blew the participants away and quickly became extremely popular.

That marked the birth of the revolutionary Zumba® Fitness and Beto was on a new journey which would change the world of fitness.

Meet George

For thirty-year-old Zumba Education Specialist (ZES) George Iu, luck was on his side as well when he decided to give Zumba® Fitness a try. In 2006, Iu heard that Beto himself would be arriving in Asia to teach Zumba® classes.

With a background in hip hop dance and a number of years of experience teaching fitness classes at the gym, he decided to head to Singapore to attend a class by Beto.

Once there, Iu stood out among the crowd with his ability to pick up the moves really quickly. Along with 5 other Chinese nationals, he was then invited to a Zumba® Fitness concert in United States.

At the concert, lu was given the opportunity to shine as he led the Asian group in an impromptu Zumba® presentation which was fully choreographed by him. “I was lucky and Beto chose me to be a ZES,” says Iu, who was in Kuala Lumpur for the first time to conduct a training session, introducing Zumba® Sentao™ to Malaysians. Iu was the first Asian Chinese to be selected as a ZES.


In an exclusive interview with Urban Health, Iu explains that Zumba® is a Latin inspired dance workout which incorporates elements of merengue, salsa, samba and other Latin dance moves. “Zumba® is a dance routine infused with fitness elements, making it an exercise in disguise. That is the best thing about Zumba® – you will enjoy yourself so much that you won’t realise that it is an exercise routine! You will only know how hard you are working out when you start sweating profusely and your muscles start feeling a little sore,” says lu. “This makes people satisfied. They want to go for class to have fun and they lose weight too.”

Zumba® is not just about one routine and a playlist of Latin songs. The choice of rhythms and dance moves depend very much on the instructor. “However, the moves are kept simple for each song track,” assures Iu.

The basic Zumba® class is known as Zumba® Fitness, which is the most common. lu also introduces other Zumba® modules currently available which include:

  • Zumba® Toning which uses maraca-like toning sticks to increase the intensity of the workout routine, focusing on a high-energy cardio workout.
  • Zumba® Sentao™ which uses a chair as part of the workout. If you are thinking about a seductive dance routine, this is not the case. Instead, this workout focuses on strengthening your core and also focusing on your balance.
  • Zumbatomic® which is designed specifically for children ages 4 to 12. It is a Zumba® workout which incorporates mini games for additional fun.
  • Zumba Gold® which is another basic module perfect for beginners or the elderly. Zumba welcomes participants of all ages and this module incorporates easy-to-follow moves in a party like atmosphere.

“I think there is some kind of ‘chemical’ in Zumba®. People get hooked on it and once you get started, you can’t stop!” says Iu, with a smile.

Want to be part of a Zumba® Fitness party?

A Zumba® Fitness dance party was held on 20 April 2013 at Southgate, Kuala Lumpur. Organised by Wellness Concept and Gorgeous Fitness, the event welcomed hundreds of participants who gathered to dance with ZES, George Iu. Disco lights enhanced the party mood, which left Zumba® fans grooving to Latin beats all night long. If you would like to be a part of an upcoming Zumba® Fitness party, be sure to check out www.urbanhealth.com.my for event updates.

Comments are closed.