Culture: The Zumba Uprising

For certain members of the tony Sports Club/LA, a fitness instructor is the new cause célèbre.

Much of the passion at SCLA was simply due to Malzone. Though she’s not the only Zumba instructor at the club, she’s far and away the favorite. Her classes are regarded as intense, but also likened to “big sweaty dance parties with all your friends.” And over time, a group of members got downright religious about attending her thrice-weekly sessions. Indeed, Malzone’s followers have a simple way of describing their devotion. “It’s like a cult,” admits Korcak.

Yet it is also clear that the brouhaha was as much about the students as the teacher. SCLA calls itself “the finest sports and fitness complex in the world,” a designation that tends to attract a certain set: successful, socially connected, type-A go-getters — people accustomed to wielding influence on and off the treadmill. By luck or design, Malzone happened to teach the sort of people accustomed to getting what they want in life — and what they wanted was to get their Zumba instructor back.

IT SOON BECAME CLEAR THAT THE folks who run SCLA were caught completely off-guard by Malzone’s announcement — or rather, by the reaction to the announcement. To try to quell the unrest, McEachern scheduled a meeting with members on Monday, February 8, four days after the news became public. Yet the promise of a meeting failed to assuage members’ ire. Within hours of Malzone’s announcement, 34 had already signed a “Petition to Reinstate Alexa Malzone,” in which they threatened to cancel their memberships. Over the next couple days, 30 more added their names. A few industrious folks even phoned Equinox, a competing sports club, to tip them off about Malzone.

Korcak was among the most disappointed by the instructor’s impending departure, and she scheduled a private meeting with McEachern to see what could be done. “I looked her in the eye and said ‘Kristin, I’ve been coming here for two years, and I know she doesn’t want to leave.’”

When Korcak didn’t get the answers she wanted, she took her complaint up the food chain: She e-mailed Smaiyra Million, the chief operating officer of SCLA’s parent company, Millennium Partners Sports Club Management.

After members learned Million would attend the big meeting, they convened a series of planning sessions, including the one at Café 47 on Super Bowl Sunday. “The only reason I wasn’t going to quit Sports Club is because of her classes,” says Courteney Mitchell, another one of the die-hards. “I know a lot of people feel the same way, so we all sat down and started going over talking points. We were trying to brainstorm ways we could stay calm and collected when we met with the COO…. I said, ‘I’m going to go home and put this in a PowerPoint.’”

ADVERTISMENT

  • john

    Why was she going to leave? If she loved it there so much and the members loved her so much, why was there any reason to leave? I don’t think we are getting the full story here.

  • john

    Why was she going to leave? If she loved it there so much and the members loved her so much, why was there any reason to leave? I don’t think we are getting the full story here.

  • john

    Why was she going to leave? If she loved it there so much and the members loved her so much, why was there any reason to leave? I don’t think we are getting the full story here.

  • john

    Why was she going to leave? If she loved it there so much and the members loved her so much, why was there any reason to leave? I don’t think we are getting the full story here.

  • Maija

    Fascinating that Boston Magazine wasn’t able to discern (or chose not to print) the story behind the story. I live on the North Shore, have never stepped foot in that facility, and even I know, mo

  • Maija

    Fascinating that BM wasn’t able to discern (or chose not to print) the story behind the story. I live on the North Shore, have never stepped foot into that facility, and even I know, more or less, w

  • jjake.peanuts@hotmail.com

    Ms. Malzone was outed due to inappropreate behavior, which she then covered up. Dirty Dancing is the cleanest part of this story!

  • masimo@hotmail.com

    As a member of this gym, I have heard rumors that Ms. Malzone threatened our gym with an unfounded lawsuit, appearances can be deceiving, she may have a loyal following but this is an employee who is

  • masimo@hotmail.com

    As a member of this gym, I have heard rumors that Ms. Malzone threatened our gym with an unfounded lawsuit, appearances can be deceiving, she may have a loyal following but this is an employee who is

  • diana@hotmail.com

    If the above stories are true, I’m quitting this gym, I don’t need someone acting like a spoiled drama queen in the gym I’m trying to relax and work out at. Go be an actress in LA, if you want to b

  • mike@hotmail.com

    How do we know these advocates know the whole story, maybe they jumped the gun in backing her. It sounds like the gym had no choice but to reinstate her, it seems she would have gone into litigation w

  • debbie

    I think as members we need to find out the truth, who covered up what and why, I don’t want my gym staff lying to me, we need to find exactly what she is covering up.

  • Alexa

    Being a member, I don’t like a cover up, if there was a wrong doing, fire this instructor, DO NOT cover a story up, we members deserve the truth!

  • Chris

    I’ve seen employees get fired…if she really did something wrong, they would have fired her.

  • d

    Lets not forget about the other roomers that make this issue look like preschool. This club is full of scandals.

  • Jane

    What are the other rumors going on in the club, I did hear a rumor from another member that this instructor has a shady background, possibly in some kind of adult industry, that’s not the kind of les

  • xela

    “Adult entertainment?” If that’s true it’s obvious why her “advocates” revolted. Who wouldn’t want the “adult entertainer” teaching dance class. Boston is so uptight & conservative. Lo

  • Debbie

    I would like a follow up piece from this writer explaining why this instructor was going to resign, it’s a huge missing piece of this story.

  • Samantha

    I’m a member of the gym, I have seen this woman, women keep your men away, she looks like she’s in some adult business. Ladies beware of her!

  • Samantha

    This article never states why she was resigning, was she being forced out, I would like to see a follow up story before I pass judgement on this.

  • D

    We the members asked her to take us into the studio to zumba, and she got in trouble. Upper management used it as a way to get her out. She didn’t do anything inappropriate.

  • Joanna

    Because members asked to be taken into the gym is why she was being let go, something’s missing from this story, can someone explain a little more please.

  • Gianna

    This woman is so wonderful, she’s just the best, being a friend of her’s is like such a privilage, she is just like the coolest, bestest person in like the whole world.

  • Diane

    Is there any more to this story? What happened to the instructor, was she fired?

  • Rate Your

    We love instructors that stir it up. One of our bloggers recently attended Alexa’s spin class, which is also heavily influenced by Zumba. Check it out here!

    http://www.rateyourburn.com/blog/post/2012/03/07/class-review-rev-with-alexa-malzone-the-sports-club-la.aspx