Zumba class attempts to set world record

Zumba! Brooklyn sweats to the beat for world record attempt

Brooklyn Daily
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Shake it, Brooklyn: More than 400 dancers convened at Aviator Sports Center to take part in the world record attempt.
The Zumba Daddy: Joe Gillette, known as Zumba Daddy among the dance enthusiasts, organized and took part in the world record attempt.
Dancing queen: Rita Rozenfeld, 22, shows off her zumba moves during Sunday’s event.
Zumba moves: Eighteen-year-old Priscilla Perez of Marine Park grooves along with the other dancers.

That’s no earthquake — that’s Brooklynites shaking it for the record books!

Joe Gillette, better known as the Zumba Daddy among local dance circles, filled Aviator Sports Center’s gymnasium to capacity during his attempt to set the record of the largest indoor zumba class on Sunday — hoping that the more than 400 dancers who attended will sway Guinness to save the class a spot for the record books.

“It was totally at capacity. Everybody had a great time, and the feedback was good. It was one of those perfect days that are so hard to get,” he said.

Gillette, who also organizes Brooklyn’s annual Relay for Life cancer charity walk, began advertising the record attempt with an ongoing blog that documented his own amateur foray into the popular Colombian aerobic program.

As he traveled between local zumba gyms to raise awareness for the event, Gillette befriended numerous instructors who pledged their time and expertise to lead the class, but the Zumba Daddy was not overly confident of his shot at the record books until he opened up the online registration two days before the event.

“We were expecting, wishing for around 200 people,” Gillette explained. “We had some decent responses, but in the last two or three days before Sunday, we made online registration available, and then it went nuts.”

Gillette, operating on a shoe-string budget, opted not to shell out the roughly $7,000 it would have cost to contract Guinness’s official record keepers to fly out and officiate the event, but is hoping that photographic and video documentation, along with registration information and signed affidavits from zumba witnesses, will be enough to clinch the record.

The workout lasted for two hours, and featured dancers ranging in age from as young as 10 to one woman who was 75.

It remains to be seen if the event will make the record, but it was capped off with a brief seminar to raise awareness for those suffering from cancer and the Relay for Life walk. Thanks to the massive turnout, the $10 registration fee helped raise $4,000.

“I didn’t target this as a fund-raising day — I kept the registration fee to a minimum, because it was really about raising awareness,” said Gillette. “However, we got over $4,000. Every dollar we made is going straight to charity.”

Currently, the record for the single largest dance fitness class held was set in Mexico City on March 26, 2012, when more than 6,500 people showed up for the 30-minute workout.

That record, however, is listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as an outdoor event — a discrepancy Gillette hopes will earn his efforts a slice of history for a good cause.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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