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Zumba Now in Busan

In this city you can easily find yoga, salsa, K-pop classes or even free outdoor gyms for your cardio needs. A major lack has been Zumba, the Latin dance-inspired fitness craze. But thanks to certified Zumba instructor Nathalie Pinerd, Busanites can now experience the upbeat workout here for the first time. Not sure if Zumba is the right fitness program for you? On May 12, Pinerd will run a free trial class at Hwashin Cyber University in Yeonsan-dong.

The Zumba phenomenon originated in Colombia in 2001, after aerobics instructor Alberto Perez forgot his aerobics music and relied on Latin sounds to teach his fitness class. Since its accidental inception, Zumba has become an internationally popular choice at health clubs.

At an hour-long class in Busan on April 27, it was easy to see why Zumba is so popular. It feels more like dancing than monotonous aerobic repetition. If you’ve never danced to Latin music before, it’s a good chance to practice moving to Latin rhythms since it’s simpler than stuff you’d see at a salsa club. Be prepared to sweat as you go through a series of different dance routines for each song which includes merengue, salsa, cumbia, Reggaeton and even belly-dancing music.

At the trial class, a Korean participant brought her English-speaking brother to help translate, but that wasn’t necessary during the workout. Instead people just copied Pinerd’s energetic movements that usually involve a set of five or six steps repeated over the course of the song. A lot of pivoting and hand styling is added, which helps keeps the dances entertaining. Many participants, foreigners and Koreans, picked up most steps quickly even though it was their first time with Zumba. Pinerd changes the dance routines about every month so that people are given ample time to fully learn and practice it.

Pinerd and her husband, Philippe, originally came here from France to teach martial arts at Hwashin Cyber University. She is a seven-time French national Taekwondo champion and will take three students from Central Africa to the 2012 London Olympics for Taekwondo this summer. While thriving in one popular aspect of Korean culture, she wanted to experience other forms of fitness while in Korea. Dissatisfied with the fast-paced style and abundant use of K-pop in classes ranging from hip-hop to jazz funk, she decided to start her own fitness class with music she preferred.

I want [Koreans] to discover Latin music, Pinerd said. As a registered trademark, Zumba can only be taught by certified instructors and certification can only be acquired at designated training centers which do not exist in Korea. Pinerd received her certification in France back in February and began her classes in Busan soon after.

She currently teaches at the Body Art School in Dongnae, which mainly runs yoga classes set to music. With the free trial classes, Pinerd and Body Art teacher Je-mi hope to expand the classes to foreigners and eventually have classes available in Haeundae or Seomyeon. Classes are currently held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and cost 60,000 won for one month, or you can purchase a point card for 10 classes.

Pinerd’s free class is at Hwashin Cyber University. Get off at Yeonsan Station (123) then take the 54 bus six stops until you get to the LG Apartments on your right. For more information, visit

For more on the Body Art School, visit



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