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Blog: Zumba's Great - Just Not for Us

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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.

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