Behind the Scenes

Zumba Fitness Takes High Road on Prostitution Story

The infamous Zumba instructor prostitution saga appears to have come to a close.

Alexis Wright was sentenced to 10 months in jail last Friday, and even though about 40 of her alleged clients are still under investigation in the state of Maine, we likely won't hear much about this case until the Lifetime movie presumably gets made.

It's hard to imagine what this negative publicity did for Zumba Fitness, the company. Every story, every headline published around the world included the words "Zumba" and "prostitution" in one form or another. The tabloids had a field day that lasted several months. While it was widely reported that Wright taught Zumba classes, it was not clear whether or not she was a licensed Zumba instructor.

To my knowledge, Zumba Fitness had not publicly commented about the case, so I sent a request to Zumba Fitness late Friday afternoon, thinking I would get the standard "No comment." What I received just a couple of hours later was a pleasant surprise.

Co-founder and CEO Alberto Perlman, whom I met in March at the IHRSA show along with fellow co-founder Beto Perez, did everything possible to distance himself from this story. Perlman instead focused on Zumba instructors' relief efforts in the wake of the Oklahoma City tornadoes.

"While I don't have much to say of those who long have lacked any official affiliation with Zumba Fitness," Perlman said in an email, "I can talk all day about Oklahoma Zumba instructor Brandi Sabala Vidal, who welcomed three families and their pets into her Moore home as the tornado touched down one-quarter mile from her house. Or Cat Chiemelu, Jaime Ortiz, Sandi Price and the other Zumba instructors who [last] month hosted a Zumbathon event in Oklahoma City to rally both positive energy and  much-needed emergency supplies for those in need. It simply doesn't get much more passionate than that, my friend!"

Case closed.

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