For Zumba to successfully scale globally, to accomplish what other once-promising fitness crazes like Billy Blanks' Tae Bo couldn't do, the business partners had to pivot away from selling Zumba via workout videos. And it all happened as a result of listening to customer feedback.
“I thrive on on customer reaction … I thrive on understanding how they're viewing what we are delivering,” Perlman says.
In 2003, after hearing customers repeatedly ask about ways they could teach classes mimicking the workout featured in the DVDs, the trio shifted the Zumba business model to certifying instructors. To the co-founders’ collective surprise, more than 150 people interested in becoming Zumba instructors flew into Miami to learn choreography first-hand from Perez.
What followed was years of growing an instructor base, and eventually in 2006, creation of the Zumba Instructors Network (ZIN). On top of a roughly $300, day-long instructor certification course, the company charges instructors just over $30 a month in exchange for Zumba Fitness' marketing efforts and class materials, like music and new choreography. Certified instructors are then able to host their own classes at gyms or other local spaces and keep the profits made from their class. By 2012, over 100,000 instructors had signed up to teach classes in over 125 countries, according to the New York Times. Now, the company says Zumba is practiced in over 180 countries, with over 15 million weekly participants.
“Ultimately, we saw that the person that was most passionate about our brand was our instructors and we made them our partner[s] and that is what allowed us to grow,” he Perlman says. “I think you find the group that is most passionate about what you’re doing and you turn them into your partners and your ambassadors.”
— Video by
with additional reporting from Telemundo's El Poder En Ti
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