At the Iconic Tour in Los Angeles, Alberto "Beto" Perez, one of Zumba's three co-founders, recalls how a mistake at age 16 led him to creating the Latin American dance-inspired aerobic workout that's taken the world by storm since its 2001 launch.
An estimated 15 million people practice Zumba in 180 countries each week and the company is worth millions. Meanwhile, the company also has an apparel line that's reportedly sold 3.5 million units a year.
Perez says that he fell in love with dancing when he first saw the film "Grease" as a 7-year-old. Growing up in Colombia, he would often imitate the dance style of Michael Jackson and groove along to Latin American music.
When he was 15, his mother jokingly told him that she wanted to go to the United States. Perez urged her to go but she was hesitant about leaving him in Colombia by himself. The two eventually reached a compromise: She would go move to the U.S. if Perez studied and supported himself.
The Zumba co-founder soon found a job dancing at a club. The owners of the club enjoyed his dancing so they gave him a business card and asked him to teach classes through an agency. Shortly after, he moved to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, where he began teaching aerobics classes.