Goodbye, Zumba……

I’ve taught Zumba for seven and a half years…..

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photo 1and I’ve had a really good time.

Did I mention I’ve had a REALLY good time?

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But something is changing.  And it’s killing my vibe.  I’ve been privately fighting this struggle for years now, spending hours before class, working on multiple songs trying to get motivated only to find myself using the same songs I’ve been using for seven years.  It has nothing to do with being lazy. It has EVERYTHING to do with the way those songs make me FEEL.  Zumba used to be a FEELING, not a job.  It was about the music and the vibe of the people.  When it started to become a place where people just gave me a list of the songs  THEY wanted to hear and do a two step to with no regard for anything else, I felt like I had just become a choreographer on demand and not leader I wanted to be. I wasn’t motivated. I wanted to lead people into freedom of movement and spirit.  I was losing what I had worked so hard to build. I had began to notice when people who had taken classes elsewhere first began to visit my class, they were “surprised” I played Latin music.  They actually seemed annoyed.  Beto Perez (the creator of Zumba) is from Colombia.  Expecting to not hear Latin music in a Zumba class is like going to a party in Chicago expecting not to hear house music. (Percolator, anyone?) I have been asked PLENTY of times, “Can you not play so much other music?  I want to hear Beyonce.” Well, other than the fact that the Zumba formula for music IS seventy percent Latin and other international rhythms and thirty percent other, I actually find it easier to do more appropriate dancing to Marc Anthony than I do to the lyrics, “Yonce all on his mouth like liquor.” I like some Beyonce songs.  Her beats are dope.  Her lyrics aren’t necessary crowd friendly.  But when it’s your jam and you’ve danced to it at your “other” Zumba class, you think it’s the norm and you’re unhappy if your request aren’t met.  In a class that can rise to over sixty people including sixty plus year old Latina women, fifty plus year old Asian women, 40 plus year old White males, thirty plus year old Italians and Indians and twenty plus year old Black college students, it’s hard to get everyone’s request in during a 60 minute time frame, stay in the 70/30 rule, use songs that are appropriate (that’s important to me and I STILL need to get better about that), keep your smile and your endurance up, remember your choreography and feel the music.

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So I decided to do away with everything I’ve taken in over the past few years and do just that.  FEEL the music.  I told my class today, “If we can’t have fun with it then we ain’t doin’ it!!!!!” Zumba is NOT an audition for So You Think You Can Dance, Bring It On (although we have been known to create our own versions of West Side Story up in there) or an Alvin Ailey Performance, nor is my IPod a juke box that you can just push buttons on your demand and I move like a robot with not emotion (unless it’s your birthday.  I treat people special on their birthday). It’s an experience.  Today when I had my students close their eyes during a cumbia, I felt like it took the pressure off and people could just get inside of Carlos Vives’ voice without thinking about whose hips were moving more than theirs or how their belly fat was hanging out.  And when it came down to Li’l Jon, we got it in! There’s a place for that.  But today, it felt more like a continuous groove and conversation among friends than a race to the finish, who can do a merengue the hardest and who’s going to have an attitude if they don’t hear their song today.  I got Spotify for that very reason.  I can hear “my” song whenever I like. 🙂

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I don’t want to get more complicated with my choreography (I have been doing this, seriously, for thirty years).  I’ve concerned about people having a good time, not their memory, not making something look good for YouTube.  When people leave out and say, “I needed that” or “I feel so good” then I know we did what I’ve always said we do in there; create community, hold each other up and have a good time doing it.

ZUMBAHEART-183I COULD quit completely.  God knows I’ve taken enough heat over the years to walk away and never look back.  I could go back to just dancing in my house with my music and be done with it.  But amidst the criticism, judgement, hate, disrespect, thievery and disregard for my hard work, I believe there is a place for me to do what I started.  Zumba has (well, had) a culture of it’s own that was just totally unmatched.  Nowadays people just throw on music, ANY kind of music, put one foot in front of the other, and call it Zumba.  And for me, I can walk away from that.  I’m all for putting one foot in front of the other but if we ain’t having fun and doing it because we love it, then why are we doing it?  Following the crowd is overrated.

Or I can do what I do and contribute to what I love. So I’ve decided to stay.

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See you on the dance floor. 🙂

  1. It’s so ironic reading your post. I am currently taking a new Zumba class with a different instructor then i normally take and I actually just switched classes because she plays to much pop and hip hop. Zumba is all about Latin and some reggae and soca music. Without it, Zumba wouldn’t exist. I wish folks would be more open minded.. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

    • Thanks, Sister! Variety is good. But Zumba is what it is, you know? Enjoy your classes!

      • Good blog.
        Its interesting that you even have people who come to you and say such things but you do look like you have an incredibly large class.
        I go ALL OVER THE WORLD in very class. I switch up all the time and keep them guessing. I try to take the time to explain the style of music and the moves that are indicative of the type of music…whenever I can.
        Everyone has their preference…even I do.
        Its good to bring to the forefront WHAT ZUMBA IS and what it is not.
        IT IS about having fun. I know people who have been trained in dance and they go on and on about form, lines, posture… I just shake my head. That’s great IF your training to be A DANCER. Zumba is exercise, a party and most of all is meant to be FUN while doing it. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. YOU ROCK!

        • Thank you so much, Stephanie. I thought I was just sharing my thoughts and woo! This happened. LOL. We do what we love and I’m going to do it until I don’t. Be blessed!

    • @Cassandra ..

      Actually, Zumba is NOT ONLY about Latin music. As the writer of this blog stated, Zumba is 70% Latin-Inspired music and 30% other world music. Other world music meaning whatever music the instructor chooses to play. The Latin-Inspired means any type of music inspired for any Latin genre (e.g., Reggeton, Cumbia, Soca, Trinipop, Salsa, Samba, Axe, etc). Zumba has taken a different course and I know this because I am an instructor as well. The music they send us is Hip Hop, Reggae, Pop, Latin Pop, and SO MUCH MORE! We choose to play whatever music from our our CDs that we receive from Zumba. Many times students think we are playing too much non-traditional “Latin” music and what we are playing is music from Zumba that we pay for in our “Zumba Instructor Network.” Students do not understand how we torment the night before getting our playlists together and how we will play a new song about 100 times until choreography pops in our head and to make sure we know every breakdown within the song. If you think this is easy then think again. So it is disheartening when people complain about the music or steps or whatever they choose to complain about because if they think they can get in front of dozens of people and teach a class for an hour so by all means they should do it. Keep up the great work HHC and keep on inspiring.

    • Its even MORE THAN THAT…its ALL INTERNATIONAL rythyms and dances plus American…not just a handful. What makes zumba so much fun is even if you have all the Latin stuff down…you still can explore African, Hawaiian, Bollywood…AND MORE. For the people who want to stay in the box…that’s on them. For the people who don’t know THERE IS NO BOX…they are at the party enjoying themselves.

    • Girl, yeah…there is SO much more than what people see in class. We just make it look easy! 🙂

  2. Thank you for bringing Zumba into my life Tasha.I finally got released from the doctor today!!Thank God!!I haven’t took a class in a year but I did some at home while I was careful.I had an incisional hernia lower rt abs.In August my intestines came thru the mesh that was holding all in place.I had emergency surgery no damage to intestines circulation returned right away.So I thank God for that.He isn’t thru with me yet:)I do appreciate you so much.I read your post and I’ve laughed&cryed with you many times.You inspired me so much.One of the first things you said was you gonna to hear a song that we dance to in a store and you’ll be dancing right along.Probably not exact words but I do this Ive always did it as my boys got older they say “mom please”I can go again to Zumba,I have to ease into it(if that’s possible! Ha!)I always love you girl.I just wanted you to know.

  3. Good on you for speaking your mind… I couldn’t agree more that there are far too many people who have strayed away from the program yet still use the name! I’m still passionate about it and will continue to follow it to a tee, and my numbers are living proof that a firm stance with your participants is all it takes to convince them you are doing the right thing. I also get people asking for the latest top 40 but give them a class or two with me and they forget about their other class experiences – now all they know is the Zumba® pragram and I couldn’t be happier!!

    Congrats for staying… let’s catch up at the next convention! xox

    • Thanks, ZJ! I always have a conflict with convention but I’ve got to get to one! Hear it’s AMAZING!!!! Take care!

  4. Glad to see there are others who stay true to Zumba and the Zumba formula. I have never strayed from that 🙂 Hate to sub a class and see they don’t know basic salsa ~ I have to ask..”what the heck have you been doing?!?!?” Ya gotta feel it and go with the music! Enjoy!

  5. this article took the words right outside of my mouth. I struggle with this every day my class. The roots of Zumba began with Latin music. I teach with live percussion music. For the past five years I’ve kept the flavor of Latin alive. I struggle when participants ask me to play more hip-hop or dance/techno. Lately everything I have been feeling has been said in this article. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Alisha. Live percussion? I need to come to YOUR class! Keep doing what you do!!!

    • Ditto here. It was an internal struggle every week to force myself to go to class. I gave up after a shoulder injury this summer.

  6. I commend you. Although I do not understand the words to most of the Latin music, I feel the rhythm and love it. I would never walk out of a class out of respect for the instructor. I find it takes several classes to get use to someone. Although I do have my favorite instructors, I like taking classes from different instructors. Like using different weight equipment; works different parts of my body.

    • Sissy, it’s ALL about THAT feeling. I speak very little Spanish. 🙂 Variety is the key! Keep working it!

  7. I do not know you but reading your post I can feel the passion in you for what you do through your words. Glad you are staying as we need instructors like you to keep restoring the fun and safety in what we do as instructors. What we do is not as easy as people assume and I had students tell me you need to play more hip hop songs and I politely told them they need to go to a hip hop class because this is zumba. I agree you have to feel the music and open the mind and heart to receive it.

    • Thanks, Janean. 🙂 It’s NOT easy but we keep each other lifted and going BECAUSE we are so passionate. Those who are open to the experience receive it. That’s why people keep coming to our classes. Take care!

  8. I love Zumba too and I love this post! Thank you for keeping it real and keeping it moving. We can’t quit because if we do others who do all hip hop songs win. I think you are exactly right it is about having fun and moving. It’s not about which song it is and whether you heard it before. Isn’t that the whole idea of international music? Open your mind, expand your horizons and you might just have a good time!

  9. Wow!
    I am a licensed zumba instructor and an ACE group fitness instructor and totally agree with this amazing post!
    Too many people just “put one foot in front of the other and call it zumba” and do not use the formula or worst have no experience in fitness whatsoever!

    Thank you for writing this!

  10. Actually the original zumba formula is only latin rythms: salsa, merengue, reggeaton and cumbia. I went through the same thing as you and I too decided to stay because I love what I do. Dancing is my passion. Some people have also mistaken zumba with being all a high impact class and if you have a balanced class( low impact, high, low, hig…) they criticize you as well. So you have to do what you know to do… dance. We are there because we went through a training. We know what we are doing. Remember life is a dance floor… so ke it up!

    • I was trained with just those four so I get you. 🙂 When I say “international…”, well, that’s an entirely different blog post but those four are the basis of my class. Never changed. You will be criticized for EVERYthing indeed so we do what we do and we have to be willing to take the praise and the blame for what we choose….like I have with this post (LOL) and be unapologetic. Take care. 🙂

  11. Right on lady! As a dancer and an instructor of House Party Fitness I TOTALLY understand what you mean about needing to FEEL the music and feel alive during teacher which radiates through others following along. Have you ever heard of House Party Fitness? http://www.housepartyfit.com –we are a hip-hop based cardio fitness class where every class is an amazing workout and more fun that words can express. Please reach out! Would love to chat with you! 🙂 And Stay Awesome!! <3

  12. I had to read this and I had to admit you are so brave…this has been haunting me for years too! I have been an instructor for the past 8 years and I still play the oldies…I cant deal with the whole tipy toey and spirit fingers, the Broadway scenario that feels more like an audition. Zumba used to be all about beats, smiles, giggles and fun! Yes, you sweat. Yes, you workout. But I feel now its all about who’s better and who can PERFORM better, not INSTRUCT better. I pay the ZIN membership but I dont look at the DVD’s anymore 🙁 I want that old feeling back. The one that you had when you first came to class. Keep doing what you are doing! YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION. I have moments that Ive said “I’m done” “I’m quitting” but then I remember that I love what I do. I love the joy that I bring to my students and I cant let them down. I love to teach. I Love Zumba. I love my culture, and I love to dance. Keep it up! Zumba Love, Lolita

    • Don’t quit, Sister!!!! We NEED you and that passion and that joy and the part of your culture that most of us won’t know unless you share. Bring it your way! That’s why we are here….to encourage each other! (((((HUGS)))))

      • I was introduced to zumba by Lolita Ortiz (above) and fell in love instantly. I’ve been to other instructors and I love the culture and the original zumba. I truly enjoy her classes, so much! Most of all her passion for the dance as well as the instruction. I hope she never stops teaching! There are a million zumba instructors, and you can appreciate the ones who know the original zumba! Don’t ever let that die all the older choreo is what I know and truly love!! Dance on!!! Zhugs!!!

      • You are too sweet! Thanks my Zumba Family! You have my email and look me on Facebook Zumba with Lolita…you have a friend here 🙂 XOXO

    • I used to teach Zumba and I did my own music following the Zumba formula. I quit teaching for personal reasons. However, I dislike the changes in music that are happening in Zumba. The hiphop and the super quick merengues etc that make you think that you are racing and not moving to the beat. Why make it so high impact if your room is full of people over 40? I see a lot of instructors that do not relate to their students. They do not keep timing, they forget the complex routines and end up not following the formulas. It used to be so much fun and simple while providing a good cardio workout… the good old days!

      • Understood. But if WE stay at it, then it doesn’t have to be a memory. 🙂 Follow your heart. Always. Be blessed.

  13. I read this via a link on FB. All I have to say is, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Your words are eloquent, honest and from the heart. As you’ve seen from some of the comments, you’re not alone. Thanks for sharing. Your students are lucky to have you!!

    • Thanks, Krista. I’m lucky to have them. The true blue ones have stuck with me through all of my changes. Love them. Take care!

  14. RIGHT ON POINT!!! Thank you for sharing.. Not knocking others “flava” lol, I love 70/30. I am really diggin 95/5 these days. Students respond to our vibe I believe, connecting in the spirit of movement!! I needed this to confirm my feelings on this! One Love

  15. It’s funny because while I applaud and agree with your personal solution 100% I am on the flip side of your problem I’m trying like crazy to incorporate more actual Zmusic into my class but it’s so hard. Most of the music is so Brady Bunch en espanol!! I can’t feel it!, This does not mean that I do not incorporate a lot of latin music – Just better tunes and artists. I love reggaetons and soca and the like so I look for up and coming artists. I do use a lot of pop music but I use the z moves – I cumbia but I do it to Usher sometimes! The closest I can get to a belly dance or bangra is to a song like Big Alabania by Soundshakerz or Bara Bere by Michel Telo. It’s just gotta feel like a party to me! Sometimes I get “why don’t you do a quebradita?” Yuck because I can’t stand them! – No I don’t say that. What I tell my students is this ” I like my class to be more of a party ( hence the reason for me to bring my own lighting) I use a lot of new artists and popular music but there is a strong dose of latin flavor in this class. We will sweat and we will have fun to all the moves you know but it is not your typical Zclass – and if I’m not your cup o’ tea then that’s OK because there are lots of instructors out there who do “regular” Zumba and you will find them. I may lose a student here and there and I wish them well in there new class but who I keep in my class LOVES what I do and they tell friends! There is room for all of us!!! I don’t bash another instructor if they are not to my liking I just say they are not for me. I was fortunate to get a chance to talk with Beto Perez at our last LA conference and I requested that after Zumba Step could he find it possible to do a Zumba in the club style format. Something that could incorporate more pop from around the world and dance flavors like Azonto and more current dance moves so we will see… I’m gonna do me but I will keep it true to the Z formula. You do you and your peeps will find you!

    • I get you. I don’t do all of the rhythms. I got a really good playlist from going out and actually dancing salsa and merengue and bachata, asking Latinos about their music, listening for hours. No need to explain why you do what you do. Be o.k. with how you do it!

      And if you want a club format, have you thought about starting your own program? You seem passionate about it. Follow that passion!!

  16. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I hear about all the hip-hop classes and how difficult they are – but my class is no walk in the park! I keep to the 70/30 rule and find that I like the songs by Don Omar and Pitbull which are Zumba friendly more than I do the other songs which are in the 30 group. I’ve been an instructor for 3 years and try to put a new song in every couple of weeks. While I don’t want my students to get bored – I think the more they know the song, the better their workout is. Either way – WE are the instructors and WE decide what songs are in our classes. Stay strong! I would love to take your class one day! ~~ xo Lisa

  17. I saw this link on FB and it made my day. AMEN! How Zumba made me FEEL years ago is why I became an instructor because i wanted to share that high with others! Keep doing what you do! I wish there were more of us out there that would keep to what Zumba really is.

    • Hi Darren,

      I saw the new commercial and tho I can see where Zumba / Beto are going with it I didn’t really like it. There are so many dance fitness classes out there, what made Zumba stand out was the 70/30 rule. I teach a class of 80 ladies. All of different ages, races, religions, sizes etc. They love the fact that they can come to class and get down to Salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggeaton, hip hop, bellydancing, pop all in one hour. Most don’t even speak spanish but sing along to the songs (at first this surprised me, very unexpected). They tell me how they will listen to latin radio stations and get so excited when a song they knew from Zumba came on. If a person wants a class of only hip-hop they can go and find such classes. Heck they even have “twerking” classes now. Back to the commercial… I loved that it means Zumba is for everyone and anyone can do it. However, I wished they would have showed clips of real classes doing some nice choreo not looking so…. not able to dance at all.

  18. LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! I totaly agree! I was a student for 4 yrs and became an instructor a yr and a half ago and one of the things that attracted me the most to Zumba were the Latin Rythms and how fun and easy it was to follow the instructor. Now it seems like the formula has been switched to 30 % Latin and 70 % other rythms. There seeems to be a competition on who teaches the hardest routines with a million different steps. Most rroutines students can’t even follow and get frustrated with. I do believe that you can throw a song here and there that will challenge them but not most of your playlist. I try for my playlis to have more of the basics of Zumba… 2 salsas, 2 merengues, two cumbia rythms and 1 or 2 regueton and the rest I do Bollywood, Soca, Mexican Rythms, pop, Dancehall, Caribean Heat, Flamenco, Tango, even Rock etc. but these other Rythms I switch them all the time because there only so much you can do in 90 minst. I have had lots of students complain about other instructors because like you said, some instructors play Beyonce, or Caribean Heta or Dance Hall almost… the whole class. That is not Zumba, that is something else. I am with you all the way!! I am glad you did not leave!! Just stay true to your Zumba roots!! 🙂 Zumba Rocks and it has changed my life!!

  19. I totally understand how you feel, I am from Colombia so Latin music is in my blood I teach Zumba like it was originally meant to be and I stick to it when people ask me about it I if tell them my class is “the Original Zumba” not a hip hop class. Z

    • Girl, I bet your classes are awesome! When it’s in your heart…..whew…. You can’t beat that!

  20. i absolutely love this piece!!!! I am an instructor and I completely stick to the Zumba music because that is what I love and my class love it too, those that may leave usually come back because they realize that it’s what they love too, it’s not a hip hop class nor a top 40 best hits class, it’s Zumba let’s keep it real – thank you and don’t give up love Emma x

  21. oh, aint nobody better than you Alli, NOBODY!!!! you have spirit, soul, talent, eVERYTHING, amazing in all ways. i wish I could still go to your classes, just live too far away to have time to get there and i miss it often.

  22. Thank you.

    I needed this. As an instructor, I LOVE and CHERISH diversity!!! I like to think of my classes as a trip around the world. I don’t want to booty shake and listen to hip-hop.

    I’m not saying that it’s wrong if someone wants to, but it’s not me.

  23. Thank you for saying how I’ve been feeling. As Zumba instructors we represent each other even when we are miles apart. What ever an instructor does, can make us all look good or bad. Because Zumba is not interested in having instructors who follow the rules, just their money. (That’s why there is no test to get your license) they want quantity not quality. That’s where we all lose. Good luck to you. Keep the music and love in your heart. I will try to do the same.

  24. Your message spoke volumes! I’ve had most of the concerns that you spoke of , and like you I’m still teaching. I’ve been at Zumbathons that you were teaching and really enjoyed them. You are truly a great instructor!

  25. My students and I were talking about the same thing. I know one instructor who has no basic latin music and another who is never prepared with her songs. I always have my Playlist ready and give my students a full 55-60 min class and best believe you will hear salsa, cumbia, carribean fusion and merengue on that list along with some bachata. You cant please everyone but it’s nice to see folks of all nationalities, age and gender enjoy your class. Keep it up.

  26. This even encouraged me in why I’m doing this. I’m just starting. Will get my certification in November. Zumba has transformed me I’ve been in lots of instuctor classes. Been doing it for 2 years. It’s funny cause I was in a class where they had requested hip hop. And my instructor was new so doesn’t have alot hip hop so the student wasn’t happy. Cause she had mostly latin music. It’s true zumba is Latin music more then anything. Student never came back. But people don’t realize or know how zumba all began. I believe all instuctors should educate there students. But that’s just my opinion. Loved your story keep up the good work. Take care

    • Congratulations! And thanks!
      Stay true to what inspires you, regardless of what I think or anyone else. There are no Zumba police. It’s just integrity. And that shows through over everything. 🙂 Best wishes!

  27. Yes! Let’s keep Zumba as it was designed! Great article. I am with you! My classes are extremely diverse and they all have fun with the international flavor!

  28. I so enjoyed reading this post! I have been teaching Zumba for 7 years and I faithfully stick by the 70/30 rule. I have been to classes where it was mostly hip hop and wanted to walk out. It made me sad to be in a class where there was not a “latin-Zumba” feel. I have had many of my peeps request top 40 songs and as much as I would love to do all of them I feel like I would be disrespecting what Beto worked so hard to develop and that is a Latin-inspired dance party! Kudos and thumbs up to you for staying true to Zumba!

    • Thank YOU! The truth is…if we don’t like Beto’s way, we can create another one. But, for now, I will do what I was taught. 🙂 Blessing to you!

  29. Amazing you should be writing this right now…for the past several months I have started feeling that the Zumba classes I go to are evolving into something that is not true Zumba…very little Latin music and very few Latin dances/dance moves. I am one of those over 60 women you mentioned and these classes are starting to remind of the aerobic classes of the 1980’s. Been there done that and don’t want to do it again!! Let’s keep Zumba pure and true to it’s roots! Unfortunately, what it is changing into is not something that excites or motivates me…so lately for me it has been back to the treadmill and elliptical. It’s too sad for me to go to a “Zumba” class and feel like it’s being lead by Jane Fonda in the old days. I’ll try again someday but for now, I just can’t bring myself to go anymore…how sad is that?

    • Find your groove….be inspired by what YOU love and who YOU are. We can’t let anything dim our light. Someone needs it, including US! Hugs to you!

    • I am very sad about this but I understand. I hope you will find a class that gives you your groove back!

  30. Unless it’s music people can identify with then it’s not fun for them, that’s why music from the radio is so popular. When I hear a song from the radio played in my zumba class I love it, and when I hear the song on the radio I can’t wait to go back to zumba class. Some Latin music is ok but it’s not motivating. If someone plays too much Latin music I won’t go back to class I need a blend of all music. People just want to dance and have fun and exercise, they are not concerned with the history of zumba.

    • I hear you. Zumba is what it is. There are a lot of classes that are not Latin based. But Latin IS motivating to a lot of people and some people love all of the rhythms. We like what we like and that’s ok. We are all drawn to something. Getting healthy ranks top in my book over everything else. Dance on!

  31. Amen Sista!!!! Zumba instructor for 5 years and felt the same way!!!! Took a year long break and am just now contemplating starting up again!

  32. I just am absolutely so grateful you posted this! I come from Hip Hop, and when Igot certified I fell in love with the latin beats!! The moves and EVERYTHING Zumba had to offer. Now 4 years later students want to Zumba to Beyonce Usher???? I have tried to please, yet it truly has stolen my fire 🙂 Then I said I will stick to ZUMBA and it’s true design. Because there are other classes people can go to to get the music etc they want. As for me and MY classes we will dance ZUMBA STYLE!!

    • When you comfortable being authentically you, people will be inspired regardless. And I feel you on the dance background. Latin dances blew my world right open! Keep up the good work!

  33. I absolutely LOVE this um blog? Article? Lol I don’t know what to call it but it felt like a post out of a diary I keep(in my head). As a brand new instructor (1year) I constantly feel pressured to keep the Top 40 in my Playlist in order to make sure my class is the best and my students are satisfied. I became an instructor because I remember how much I loved the music and my instructor back in 2011 when I took Zumba as a student. When I finally mustered up the nerve to get licensed, I wanted people to leave my class feeling just like I did back in 2011-inspired, motivated, and worked the hell out lol

    • Call it whatever you want. 🙂
      Keep that love! Remember the feeling you had. And pass it on!! 🙂

  34. Hi there

    I totally agree with you! Although I don’t get asked for the latest top 40, I only include the odd song here and there, keeping to the 70/30 formula. I went away for an exercise weekend and they had Zumba on the timetable, which excited me as I don’t get a chance to go to other instructors’ classes much. However, there was a lot of popular music and it didn’t really feel like a Zumba class. I was disappointed.

    Keep doing what you’re doing!! It’s a tried and tested formula, and if YOU love it, your participants will too. x

  35. While I agree for the most part, I do have one small thing to add/adjust: “international” music. Yes, Zumba started with a complete focus on Latin music, but over the years one of the most incredible things about the Zumbaverse is how international it has truly become. While I agree that straight-up pop/hip-hop classes are a breach of the Zumba spirit, I DO believe (as a fellow instructor) that the inclusion of other *international* rhythms is a huge asset to my classes. Bellydance absolutely has a place in Zumba without pushing the original foundations beyond reason. I think other cultural dances could also be incorporated as well, all keeping in the evolving spirit of Zumba without being a total departure. Variety is good, and staying true to Latin roots doesn’t mean other cultures shouldn’t be incorporated – but a Zumba class definitely SHOULD focus on the international rhythms upon which the industry was founded, FOR SURE!

    • Hey there!
      This wasn’t supposed to be a debate or anybody needing to defend why they choose what they do. Do what you love! I do what I was taught and it’s o.k.! Be inspired through your heart and you can’t go wrong! Thanks for reading!

  36. As a Zumba Instructor myself I completely agree with you! The music I use speaks volumes of who I am as a person, a firm believer in Jesus Christ! Personally, I don’t really care for some of the Zin music ( spicy lyrics ). I do use ALOT of Latin based Christian music and my classes love it because it’s so different from the norm! I don’t take requests, I tried, the songs requested were not appropriate and I wasn’t comfortable doing them although “other ” instructors have used them. For me, I don’t wanna do what others are doing! I’m gonna stay true to myself no matter the haters. Keep doing what you’re doing my fellow Zumba Queen! You are an inspiration!

  37. Awesome awesome awesome blog! Did I mentioned how awesome your blog is? LOL! I have been teaching for 4.5 years and I have also kept to the format. I am amazed at how many other instructors have turned their classes into a hip hop class or dance pop class. If they do salsa, it’s to an english dance song… crazy right? Anyway, thank you for speaking your mind and remaining true to what Zumba is all about!

  38. Amen Sister! I have had students thank me for introducing them to different types of music and that’s how I intend to keep it. 🙂

  39. I am an instructor and I feel the same way. I quit being a ZIN because of the stupid scheme I feel that Zumba is doing. Until they have more incentives and free giveaways, like rewarding their ZIN for the years of dedication to paying $360 a year and now it’s higher for those who are just joining, I don’t want to be a ZIN. They are tempting me to come back with the no $175 fee to come back. I just feel like the $30 a month should be providing us more than a LOUSY 10% off clothes/shoes and music/choreography and the license to use the Zumba Fitness name.

  40. The first thing I do is explain to newbies what Zumba is. My oldies but goodies enjoy the latin music.

  41. I 100% agree with you, girl! I loved the latin music my instructors in my home town played. I fell in love with it! Then I got to college and the instructors would play house party music! Rarely a latin song or latin moves of any kind. It was very disappointing, it wasn’t ZUMBA! I admire your determination to stay true to the real definition of Zumba. I say keep up the good work and continue to be a great role model!

  42. I hear what you are saying. Many people come to my class and expect or want to do all mainstream and hip hop music and are disappointed with the Latin ZIN music in my class. However, mixing up the music and the moves is what it is all about. You get a much better workout that way and with good choreo it is a lot of fun too. I get where people are coming from in a way, they want the party atmosphere and they want to hear music they know and love and party with. It is not easy to instantly fall in love with different genres of music but if they keep their minds open and let the music move them like you said, they will come to really enjoy it as well.
    Keep working hard, you sound like a great and motivating instructor.
    Take care.

  43. This is exactly why I quit teaching Zumba after 4+ years. I wanted to teach the way it was “meant” to be taught, but my students from my class and from the other Zumba classes at my gym wanted more and more hip hop/Top 40. A song or two is fine, but it’s the Latin dances and moves that got me interested in the first place. I also tried to stick to the high/low interval type workout, but the students wanted it all high impact. I ended up getting injured. Nice, eh? Anyway, one way I tried to appease everyone was once a month I’d do a “Dance Party” class that was all Top 40/hip hop songs. I miss the old way of Zumba and if I hadn’t gotten hurt, I hope I would have gone back to that.

    Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you’re still teaching.

    • Thanks, Becky. I hope a space opens for you to come back to do what you love, your way. Good luck to you. 🙂

  44. This is great stuff! Love Latin- but you know Zumba recently lifted the 70/30 rule. Did you get that email?

    • Hi there. No, I didn’t, but it seems like everybody is doing their own thing anyway. 🙂 Thanks for the info!

  45. omg I know you and I can’t place my thoughts from where…i saw the picture with your class behind you (light greenish/bluish top) and was like…i know her. anyhow….loved your article. ..hope you’re doing well 🙂

  46. I read all your blog well said, We all have those moments of doubts but at the end our passion for dancing is stronger,,
    Zumba Fitness its Latin Music i been doing it for 4 years and i am still shock that i still get new people that take my class for the first time and most love it and aproach me with a WOW your zumba is so different you do a lot latin stuff,, And i am like what? This is Zumba People lol,, I think ZUmba needs to be a little more strict or set some kind of standarts for instructors if they dont like merengue etc than they need to find a lessmills program or any other that will please them

  47. I wouldn’t listen to anything from a zumba class outside of the class (I’m a rocker through and through) but it’s great to move to and I like it when I’ve learned what’s coming next because it keeps me from tripping. I’m there for fitness and it’s fun too. Keep doing what you do! Don’t worry about the haters. They can go spin!

  48. The music and the vibes are changing. The people is changing. So, we can not keep making the same zumba moves to the same latino rhythms. I think, we have to follow people’s wishes to dance on the music they like, otherwise we will dance alone at the end. It is good that zumba put Arabic, Rock & Roll, R&B…..music. I find it more interesting than all the time latin, latin, latin… And it is because I’m getting bored to listen the same style 45 min. Changing = Evolution

    • I feel that, Anton. We each have to find the balance of all things that works for us. We control our own evolution once we decide where we really want to go. 🙂 Take care!

  49. I am teaching for 3 years and love the Zumba formula! It was what I felt in love and it was the reason I became a Zumba Fitness instructor. I know that the trend is going into more fusion and more freedom in the choice of music, but I have chosen for myself to teach the Zumba Fitness I felt in love. I love your post! I think there are many instructors and students that have the same dilemma: go with the classic or go with the crowd… At the end of the day, it is a choice.
    Thank you for staying in Zumba Fitness! Keep dancing, keep doing the Zumba Fitness you love!

  50. you took the words out of my mouth…Except I left. After almost a decade of ZUMBA I got tired off the constant pushing-back of ‘other’ classes. I stuck to the original formula to the end, but the ‘feeling’ was gone. Good for you in getting your grove back. It’s been a year & mine is still hibernating.

  51. I agree that when people stray from the format it causes complications with Real Zumba classes.I love teaching it to the format and I haven’t had any complaints. Keep teaching and make it your own:)

  52. I am so with you. If it’s not fun, what is the point?

    I teach a variety of classes, from Cardio Kickboxing to Total Body Conditioning. I always get suggestions, from Music to class layout, to exercise requests, etc. I make sure to take everything in and listen, but there is a reason I do this. If, as instructors, we were to take everyone’s suggestions, the classes would be a mess. I think sometimes people forget that there is a reason for everything we do as instructors, even with something as simple as music choices.

    As long as the passion is there, keep going. Once that is gone, however, it’s time to find something else.

  53. Very eloquently stated. I have been teaching Zumba for three years in NY and find a TON of classes that say they are Zumba but are more Top 40/Hip Hop/Pitbull etc. I LOVE Pitbull and generally have 1 of his songs (at least 1) in all my playlists or Akon or Beyonce or an old Classic dance song but I also have Salsa, Cumbia, Merangue, Charleston, Bollywood, etc.
    Even though they have started to stop saying 70/30 in the last few months, it is still supposed to be a good mix of rhythms from around the world. (at least according to a topic on the ZIN Forum)
    I love that you are staying true to the original meaning of Zumba and TO YOURSELF!!! Way to go and keep up the great work!!!

  54. OMG if you could hear me I am clapping right now! You said everything I struggle with in the changing culture. As a Zumba instructor myself I say THANK YOU for articulating my thoughts. In my classes I want it to be fun, educational, interactive and I want LAUGHTER! I tell them to just dance and not worry about anything. This should be a positive experience for all, not a dance or twerking contest for a few. There’s alot that goes on behind the scenes to incorporate some Top 40 requests and still keep the 70% Latin flavor. I try to stay as true to the authentic Zumba format as I can. My classes seem to like it. 🙂

  55. You said it! With a very few changes, my story exactly. I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling that way.

    • And that’s why WE have got to keep on dancing. Because we love it. Speaking our truth just set us free. Now that we did, our classes will look different, they will look like us. Our passion is back! And people really do want THAT over everything else.

  56. THANK YOU! I could not have said it better. I had several say I want more jazz, hip hop, or swing, I always explain what Zumba is and say “ill do my best to see what songs are out there”. For the past 6 months I start every class with my intro plus “we are here to have a great time, put your feet on the beat and don’t take yourself too seriously. See these hips, they are mine, I move my way, you move your hips your way, It’s not a compition”. I say this in a friendly, conversational way during the warm up. No more complaints and they smile thru the whole class. I love my classes and plan on teaching but I have to add that the way specialty instructors are treated by Zumba headquarters is going to be a deciding factor in the future. They have changed. And not for the better. My AZ and Gold classes are packed, they keep me excited about teaching, not Zumba headquarters.

  57. I have been an instructor for 3 years and have not heard that they lifted the 70/30 rule as someone mentioned. If they did, why wouldn’t we all know about it? In any event, I am so with you on this. I think if instructors want to use a non-Zumba formula, they can and should – just don’t call it a Zumba class! I have had two experiences that frustrated me. First, I took over a “Zumba” class at a school. I tried to mix in several of the “Zumba hits” in the first class so they would have a few songs they recognized. At the end of class, they said that no, none were familiar. I talked to a few students in more depth, and they said that the former instructor didn’t do any Latin music at all. ??? She apparently did a lot of fitness moves to pop music, not even dance really. Okay, so call it “Cardio Fitness” or “Dance Fitness” and leave the Zumba name off of it. The second experience was running in to a lady at a business. This lady is one who walked in to a class where I was subbing….and then walked back out. At the business, she was talking to the employee about Zumba when I walked in. I commented how much I love Zumba, and she said she did, too, but then she told the lady, “Yes, she [me] teaches with that other girl I was telling you about.” Then said, “I don’t like Kate’s classes. She uses too much Latin music, and I like hip hop.” My response was, “That’s what Zumba is!” She said, “I know, and I don’t like it.” (Explains why she walked out on MY class!) So agree with you, that all instructors should and can teach whatever they love, but I wish they didn’t label it as Zumba if it really isn’t. Like someone else said, if you go to a class labeled “Body Pump,” you would not want them to be playing a game of basketball. If you went to Yoga, you wouldn’t want an hour of cardio. I know Zumba has and will continue to adapt, and maybe at some point it will just be “dance fitness” of any type, style or formula. But until it is, I think a class marketed as “Zumba” should meet the current company definition of it. And yes, I love and feel EVERY song I teach, whether part of my 70 or part of my 30. Love your passion! GREAT article, lady!

    • Nope, not at all. But it can be life or death of your motivation/inspiration which is hard to get back. But, like you said, whatever works to keep you moving. So we just have to find that “thing” for us that keeps us going. 🙂

  58. Thank you for this!!! I agree 100%. I’ve been an instructor since 2008. I love Latin music and dance. Zumba is all about feeling the music. There are lots of solos in Zumba! I feel like the classes aren’t always beginner friendly and it’s more like a hip hop/dance fusion class. I miss how it used to be. I stopped teaching 2 yrs ago due to an car accident and I miss teaching. Maybe one day I’ll be back!

  59. that’s something I struggle with everyday. The area where I live is not very diverse and people get scared away after they hear latin music especially salsa and cumbia. I keep the steps simple and provide a ton of queues. I’ve been told, “I want to hear my music” (hip hop). I’ve also heard, “She’s too latin” I don’t know what else to do. I’ve been doing it for a year and I’m starting to lose the fun in it.

    • I get it. How can you meet in the middle?
      But there is no middle if YOU aren’t inspired.
      Start there. Everything else grows from there.
      I hope you keep going!

  60. Thank you for this. I’ve been struggling with these same feelings and some of the other instructors that I work this disregard the 70/30 or say that I’m overreacting by wanting everyone to follow that formula. I actually decided to leave because I’m the minority and couldn’t continue anymore.

    • I’m really sorry you left. Everyone won’t follow the rules. We know that. It’s frustrating but we just do what we do. Don’t quit because you are the minority. Keep rocking it because you are the trailblazer! 🙂

  61. Hi Tasha, your words are just superb, thank you for explaining my feelings and my doubts too. Zumba is not Zumba when others are trying to show the best choreography on youtube or playing 70% of other music and not Latin music.
    I’ve been teaching Zumba about only 2 years, i have the same thoughts as you, it doesn’t make sense requests to play and routine songs you can’t feel anything, like you said is like being a robot when people choose their song in some jukebox…

    I respect and love all the choices from the zumba office on their zin dvd playlists … just something it fits perfectly to me, then i just simplify/re-ajust or modify routines and stay with two different moves in each musical lines …keep it easy so everyone can follow me and have fun.

    Thats the soul of zumba and i do ballet, jazz, i like to do routines ..but when i do it for zumba its different.

    Thank you for expressing yourself as i won’t be able to write like this.

    Hugs and Kisses
    -Ligia Ferreira (ZIN)

  62. Pingback: What I Heard…A “Goodbye Zumba” Follow Up | The Hip Healthy Chick

  63. You really touched my heart!!

    A few months ago i was helping a friend to hold a Studio alive and own it cause she have to move away from this town!
    The girls in this studio weren’t amused and happy when I did my first hour there… cause i hold on to that “old” zumba formula. I only have in my warm up and cool down charthits but the rest was latin music. The previous instructor made “dance aerobic” and called it zumba. The studens tell me they don’t like my zumba cause they want to here more chart hits! But i am holding on to this original zumba because this is the reason why i made my license and why i love my “job” 🙂 I hope that i will survive in this studio. Take care of you and god bless you!

    Mel.

  64. I enjoyed reading your comment and glad you decided to stay. I currently work out at Curves in Anaheim. They have a Zumba class and you’ve motivated me to check it out.

  65. Pingback: A Year of Mistakes: The Missed Possibilites of 2014 | The Hip Healthy Chick

  66. I just went to a Zumba class with my favorite long time instructor after a 9 month absence and was so dismayed that it wasn’t really the essence of Zumba any more. It was all hip hop and Kung fu stuff. Very disappointed. Is this really how Beto is leading the instructors? I’m gonna look around for another more Zumba-y Zumba class but if not I guess I’ll have to find something else. It’s a damn shame.
    Thanks for putting it so eloquently. I wish I were in your area…..

  67. I just went to my Zumba class this morning. Hadn’t been for a while. The teacher moves very quickly, and I’m uncoordinated and can’t keep up. She says, Faster, faster. Then she will stop and just watch us and hope that someone remembers the steps. Today after class she told me I might like Zumba Gold better, but I’m a member of *this* gym and there’s no Zumba Gold offered there. I looked it up and I see it’s for older adults. I can keep up aerobically with this Zumba class, though I admit I am an older adult. She said that regular Zumba is for intermediate and advanced, which I don’t think is true. She also said that in Zumba classes the instructor is not allowed to give verbal cues, only physical, such as indicating which leg to use, etc. Is that true? I’ve been to other Zumba classes in other cities and I’ve been able to keep up. I guess I’m just venting here. I can’t believe that you have people who request or demand songs. No one has ever done that in Zumba classes I’ve been to in four different states.

    • Zumba is for everyone. Zumba may be a better option HOWEVER I have “older adults” who pace themselves in my regular Zumba class. I wouldn’t call it intermediate or advanced. It just “is?” Zumba teachers are now taught to not give verbal cues. I’m an old school teacher and I do use verbal cues.

      Go where you feel comfortable or stay where you are and dance to your own groove! Best of luck!

  68. I wish I read your blog sooner. I became a ZIN in 2013 and fell in love. It didn’t take me long to notice that people attending my class would say “Oh I’ve never done this type of Zumba before..” or “Ohhhh you’re not gonna play that new Rhianna or Beyoncé song?” It would get SO annoying, especially having been to other Zumba classes, seeing folks stray from the formula and turning it into everyday hiphop, booty-popping classes.I make it VERY clear when I have new students along with introducing myself I define what Zumba is…dance fitness that entails Latin and international rhythms. They seem like they appreciate it more, but it’s still a bit of a thorn in my side when I get those occasional comments, or my attendance numbers drop. I’m still debating on if I still want to teach one 2017 comes. Thanks so much for your blog!

  69. Thank you for this article. I was just saying this same thing…too many instructors doing whatever they want to do and not following Zumba formula, then when you go teach a class or sub the students want all hip hop or tell you to face the mirror the whole time…Teach it like it is supposed to be taught if not don’t call it zumba

  70. I am lucky to access some great Jammers that inspire me whenever I get jaded. I still love what I do. I rarely do request. I do the music I want. Don’t like Latín? Go do Cize!

  71. Totally agree! !! Love the Latin music that makes Zumba so much fun!!! I think I was Latino in my other life!!!!! Let’s do this!!!!💞💞

  72. I’m so glad to read this I wish so many more can read this and understand they concept and the real format of Zumba I’m an instructor and I love my roots when I first start taking class I felt in love because of the music because is my music the music I grow up with and having a fitness program with this music it was a great pleasure to be part of it and now that I’m an instructor we being so judge because I’m Latina I play jus that in and is not that they don’t know why us more Latin than other rithym and ia hard to please everyone taste but I only concentrate in my rutine and do it like I’m in a dance floor with all my girlfriends and guys who love to have fun and I have such a success being myself so I appreciate this post thanks
    Angela

  73. HHC,
    You go girl! I needed to read this as I too have felt the same frustration. I have been teaching Zumba for 9 years, my first CD/DVD started at 6, and I have always taught with the ZIN music, rarely adding other music. I like to tell the class we are going on a world tour and I want them to know what we are experiencing, but there are those instructors that do more hip hop and I have subbed many times when students tell me they had never danced salsa before…, REALLY?!
    THANK YOU for sharing.
    Happy dancing,
    Candy

  74. Make ur life easier… Come in with ur playlist ready… Do NOT take request n give urself more work… Do what YOU want to do not what THEY want… U know why? Cuz they don’t KNOW what they want! Whenever I take over a class that wasn’t really doing Zumba® but more hip hop/ pop songs, I ALWAYS get the same reaction… I explain what Zumba® is n to please give it a chance. Before u know it my entire class is singing in Portuguese n killing that machete in a Cumbia… I’ll never forget one of my participants come up to me during her B1 training (I host many) n thanking me for teaching her n exposing her to “all these rhythms” cuz u could tell that soooo many people taking B1 have never done a Cumbia before. Oh n I can’t help but correct someone who said its 70% Latin n 30% world music… No I’m sorry but that’s incorrect… It USED TO BE 70% “international music” n 30% whatever u want but things have changed n it’s now just a VARIETY of world rhythms… The reason they changed it was because Zumba® is in 180 countries n if u r not in the US, then Pitbull n JLO r considered international artists…. n we can’t have 70% of the playlists with pop music only cuz for 179 other countries OUR music is international… Sooooo Beto n ZHO came up with a solution… NO MORE 70/30…. NOW ITS AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF VARIETY!! If u have mostly hip hop, then It’s a hip hop class, if u have mostly Salsa, then it’s a Salsa class… He said to try to do TWO of each rhythm so that unr guaranteed to make a playlist with VARIETY. 🙂

    I am glad u r staying 😉

  75. Thank you for writing this post. I am glad to know I am not the only one feeling this way. I have been an instructor since 2008 but had to stop teaching due to a knee injury. I am finally ready again so I started taking classes at my new gym and I went to a class that had only 3 “latin” songs one of which was the remix to Justin Beibers song, Sorry.
    It was so disappointing but I am glad not all classes have changed. Thank you and keep up the awesome work 🙂

  76. Great article. I love Zumba because of the Latin flavor and I often close my eyes when I dance. I don’t care what people think. I dance my ass off in my Zumba class because I love it. Thank you for writing how you feel and I’m glad the negativity didn’t make you stop doing what you love.

  77. Hello!
    Well the post is quite old for now. But I think it is even more actual today.
    I heard of Zumba first time in 2006 and took my first class around 2007 I guess. It was new, it was fresh and that’s why I loved it. Over the years I have been on and off mode of Zumba fitness because of this very reason. I just can’t take all that commercial tippy toey and spirit fingers (as someone commented already) :p. I like Latin music and that is the reason Zumba was my thing.
    So now, over 10 years later, I finally thinking to become a instructor myself. Because I do want to experience that Latin buzz again and share it with others like me.
    I have never really wanted to make any instructor feeling bad, but I have finished to going to their classes because there is too few those cool Latin songs and too much weird pop dance music. The music I actually hear every day in commercial radio. I want my Zumba class to be something to get away from everyday routine and feel something new and different.
    I apologise my English as it’s nit my first language and I am not even sure if anyone will see this comment anymore, but this post just related so much. I would love to have a zin coach as you.
    Lot of love
    @vykiku