We're going to come right out and say it, and then go hide behind something sturdy in anticipation of the response.

We're not big fans of Zumba.

We tried it for a while. It was fine. Then we let it drop, and we are not planning on offering it again.

Push those veins back in your forehead. We'll explain, because we don't want to come off like the Planet Fitness executive who insulted the entire personal training side of our business.

We do understand Zumba's appeal. The classes are terrific, and they fulfill the basic idea that people want to enjoy their workout. Most people don't want to lift weights or ride a stationary bike, but they do like to dance and party, which is why Zumba positions its classes as parties. Millions of people all over the world obviously love those parties.

So, what's our problem? We have two. One is the growing Cult of Zumba, and two is how Zumba instructors are sent into the world. The two issues are closely related.

Every Zumba instructor is an independent contractor. As a result, these contractors knock on every door they can find to earn a living. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. But these aren't like the personal trainers from whom we field inquiries; these Zumbies, let's call them, are coming out of the woodwork with the zeal and nearly religious fervor of network marketers. The result is that Zumba is everywhere - churches, schools, community groups, dance schools, gyms of all sizes, and the list goes on. Is this a bad thing? In general, no. Zumba gets people moving and introduces them to a healthier lifestyle. However, as a business model, we question how saturated a community can get with Zumba before there simply isn't enough business to sustain the army.

So, why aren't we offering it? As we mentioned, we did for a while. Our group fitness director got certified and joined the Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN), which kept her status as a certified instructor for $30 per month. The classes were well received, but not a big deal. We thought about getting other instructors certified, but it seemed silly to pay $30 a month for each instructor when they'd all be getting the same information from ZIN. With just our club to teach in, since our instructors do not work elsewhere, and with Zumba on our schedule only a few times a month - all of which meant that a lot of effort would be invested by our instructors for little return - it was an easy conversation among all of us that we should just let Zumba go.

Now the inquiries from the Zumba army come in almost weekly, but we simply do not utilize outside contractors for our classes, nor is there enough demand in our clubs for Zumba to revisit our decision. (It's actually useful that the name is so well known, as we'd be well aware if prospects were demanding Zumba.) There's almost a shocked reaction among Zumba instructors when they see we're not offering it - maybe that's why they're licking their chops when they contact us. We've been offered "regular" Zumba, Zumba for kids, water-based Zumba, and maybe more.

So, again, we think Zumba is great as a way to get people moving. The folks at Zumba have a business model predicated on creating an army of independent instructors and turning Zumba into a movement, and that's obviously working for them. It's just not a fit for us.

OK, you can yell at us now. Let the comments fly.

Rob Bishop & Barry Klein is Guest Contributors of Athletic Business.
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Thank you! I can't wait to take this to my board and share with them somebody's else's veiw. Everything that glitters is NOT gold!!! Everything that shakes is not a work out.
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I have been approached by several instructors to teach at our club also. I am concerned there is no certification or credentials for these people. I am sure there is still some risk of people injuring themselves during the workout. I would also think some classes are not appropriate for all people and is there any consideration given to a person's physical condition, health issues etc.
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Great article, it touches on the fact that every new hype does not necessarily mean it gives you the full benefit. Though it does show to burn calories, I do not understand how people constitute it as a workout. Every program should have some resistance training for muscular development and this does not do it. No ZUMBA class at my center.
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Every community and business is different, you pick your programs and I'll pick mine.
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Would you Zumba 'haters' kindly send your Zumba members over to my club. We are happy to give them what they want!
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thnak-you: it is good to hear your experience.
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will do . you can have the cult
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...I completely understand, I have been teaching Zumba for 3 years nows, but I am a Fitness Instructor and Coordinator, I refuse to join the cult....the majority of people who are getting certified have no fitness experience and people are getting hurt....my members are constantly asking for more Zumba classes, but I refuse to add any more, we have a wide array of classes and I am going to keep it that way!
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I am a part-time Zumba instructor and when I read the title of your article I was intrigued. I always tells my Zumba inquiries...Zumba is not for everyone. Try it and if you don't like it, you will have at least tried it.

Although I respect your opinion, I think your stated reasons for not offering it are lame. You don't offer Zumba because you don't like cold calls and the market may become saturated? Seriously? Talk about bitter.

Why not just say the Zumba market at your gym sucks because you don't understand how to build a Zumba class? Or that your market did not respond to your offering because you never wanted it to work. Or that you didn't take the time to talk to successful gym owners / Zumba instructors to find out the secrets to making it work.

I have seen time and time again gym owners sending an instructor to get licensed to capitalize on the revolution and fail.

I work for a gym that pays me a W-2. I pay for my own $30 / month ZIN membership and I have brought in countless new gym members. I love teaching Zumba and that is what attracts new people. Nobody 'sent me' to get licensed and nobody but me pays my Zumba fees. I have never made a sales call to a gym to sell my Zumba services but I respect independent Zumba contractors that do. Some of them lost jobs in the recession and Zumba has helped thousands of people find work.

I can't imagine your approach to this article being any more successful than your approach to offering Zumba but I hope it is. I try to live by what my mom always said...if you can't say anything nice...don't say it at all.

Good luck!
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Ok, I took the plunge and tried to get certified as a Zumba instructor. It was a one day class to get certified, and I have to tell you I was more clueless after I left, and felt like I needed more of a base. ( On a side note I do have a back ground in fitness BS in Wellness Leadership, ACSM cerftified health fitness specialist, and a background in ballet.) I do not however have a background in Latin dance moves. I found that although Zumba was easy enought to follow, it was harder to teach. So, going back to my fitness center they expected me to teach it. Although I did sign up for the Zin program I was not very successful with it. I do feel that it is a bit of a cult, but aren't most exercise programs a bit cult like. Again some like it and some don't and as long as it gets people motivated and moving then it has its own place in the group exercise schedule.