Is Colombian immigrant to the United States, Alberto “Beto” Perez, the next Richard Simmons with his new aerobics style workout? Pérez, who has gotten everyone from cancer patients to senior citizens out of their homes and into fitness centers to dance to Latin music, has found the “American Dream” with his Zumba workout videos and classes.
He started out as a 17 year-old dance and aerobics instructor in Cali, and forgetting his normal music tape for class, opted for some modern Latin music.
“People sweat a lot and were happy and I thought ‘I have something
here,'” Pérez said. “I started a program that I called Latin aerobics.”
His third attempt at making a name for himself and go worldwide with his Latin aerobics in the United States left him with $800 and sleeping on the streets of Miami. Pérez finally got his lucky break when he teamed up with Alberto Pearlman who helped him produce his first Zumba exercise video in 2002. The video created a wide demand and tapped an audience that wanted to have fun while they exercised. By combining salsa, kumbia, and reggaetón, moves, Pérez made people feel like they were at a party dancing instead of working out.
Though Pérez seems to have found a market in southern Florida who like to burn calories in time with Shakira, this is not the first time people have found the beat in exercising to Latin music. Ever since Gloria Estefan first sang “Conga” back in 1985, she has been getting “people to move and shake their bones,” said one person commenting on the Zumba craze.