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Dance party! Aviator to host world’s largest zumba class • Brooklyn Paper

Dance party! Aviator to host world’s largest zumba class

Dance craze: Phyllis Sorrentino, Joe Gillette, Gem Santoli, Wilson Gutierrez, and Vanessa Romano get ready to get their zumba on.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A Brooklyn philanthropist is calling on all fans of a popular dance-fitness routine to help him set a world record and fight cancer at the same time by attempting the largest indoor zumba class, which — wouldn’t you believe it — has never been attempted before.

Joe Gillette, who goes by the name Zumba Daddy, says scores of zumba lovers plan to pack the enormous Aviator Sports and Events Center in Mill Basin during the Jan. 6 event, where gym rats will be raising money and aerobicizing to hip-hop, soca, somba, salsa, and mombo beats.

“I started throwing this thing around on Facebook and the buzz has been incredible,” said Gillette, who is also co-chairman for Brooklyn’s annual Relay for Life charity event. “We already have five certified instructors to lead the class and I’m getting constant emails from other instructors who want to pitch in.”

Gillette, a self-described “out of shape middle-aged man who can’t dance” says he’s never tried zumba — and has the body to prove it — but he’s quickly getting into the groove in preparation for the contest.

“It’s kind of funny that a guy who’s never done zumba is trying to set this record,” said Gillette. “I don’t have the zumba physique.”

But his instructors say he’s just being humble.

“He didn’t look silly,” instructor Melissa Lopez said of Gillette’s first class. “The number one rule in zumba is to have fun and he did just that. After that you can do whatever you want.”

Gillette has also become a quick study of zumba fashion and attitude taught to him by instructor Wilson Gutierrez — perhaps unwisely.

“You’ve got to have that Latin love over confidence,” said Gillette. “That’s what it takes to zumba. I mean, the guy wears a see-through shirt with leather pants and if that’s not attitude, I don’t know what is.”

Yet it remains unclear if Guiness World Records will certify Gillete’s zumba fest. Guiness prefers that any attempt is certified by experts, but Gillette says that would be too costly and take from the money raised for cancer patients.

“Their schtick is they want you to hire their experts to come and verify it,” he explained. “If you shilled out $7,000 they probably would certify a record for three people, since nobody has attempted this before.”

Zumba Daddy hopes to catch the record keeper’s eye through a combination of video recordings, detailed accounts of registrars, and solid turnout of zumba enthusiasts young and old.

“If I send them a video with 500 people, they’ll probably check it out.”

Currently the record for the single largest dance fitness class 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 “Guiness Book of World Records” as an outdoor event — a discrepancy Gillette hopes will earn his efforts a slice of history for a good cause.

“These are the things we do for the cause,” he said. “I’m all about credibility, so if I’m gonna do zumba, I’m going to go all out.”

The world’s largest indoor zumba class at Aviator Sports and Events Center [3159 Flatbush Ave. in Mill Basin, (718) 758–7500]. On Jan. 6 at 2 pm.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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