Yeeeeaaahhh, OK: Lil Jon Hits the Zumba Scene

The rapper is acting as DJ for the new Zumba Fitness Nightclub Series.

Zumba last night at the Wonderland Ballroom. Photos by Juliette San Fillipo.

Zumba last night at the Wonderland Ballroom. Photos by Juliette San Fillipo.

Shall we say it? “Yeeeeaaahhh!”

Lil Jon, the rapper/DJ known for his one-word catchphrases and affinity for getting “crunk”, put his signature emphatic words to work in a new way last night at the Wonderland Ballroom. The eccentric celebrity, who can currently be seen on the NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, is bringing his DJ skills to the gym with the brand new Zumba Nightclub Series, which launched this week in Boston.

More than 300 people, mostly women, congregated in Revere to watch the renowned rapper and DJ hit the turntables alongside celebrity Zumba instructor Gina Grant, for what can only be described as a fitness class with Friday night attitude.

The Boston show was the first of six Zumba Nightclub Series that will happen across the U.S. throughout the month of April. Already a hugely popular trend in studios across Boston and the country, the Zumba Fitness brand has upped the ante by bringing the cult workout sensation to the next level: the dynamic nightclub scene. It’s a logical transition since Zumba Fitness is known for blending a high-energy workout routine with a party-like atmosphere, relying on dance moves and exhilarating music as an effective motivator for exercise—cue Lil Jon’s party staples “Get Low,” “Shots,” and “Outta Your Mind.”

Anyone familiar with Lil Jon knows his raspy, loud rhapsodies have a knack for riling up a crowd or party, to the point where words like “Yeah,” “OK,” and “What” have become his trademarks. Lil Jon says that entering the Zumba world was an easy transition. “It was a natural fit for me to team up with Zumba and for us to try and do something together because… my voice pushes people a little bit and helps them get a little more amped up. I’m known for energy,” he says. “A lot of people would tweet me, and be like ‘Yo, your song helped me get through my workout today.’”

Zumba can burn up to 1000 calories a class.

Zumba can burn up to 1000 calories a class. You can almost make out Lil Jon in the DJ booth.

Ever since that discovery, Lil Jon has channeled his energy into recording Zumba tracks, recognizing a gap in the fitness program’s previous musical accompaniments that he hoped to fill. “I just went in and wanted to do something different than what Zumba usually has,” he says. “I noticed that nobody had made a song for Zumba that says, ‘Do this; do that.’ So I wanted to kind of even push them a little harder in the workouts: You know like, ‘Alright, roll your waist; and do this and do that.’ I kind of got the vibe from Cha-Cha Slide and Tootsie Roll, some of that stuff. Because everybody loves to do those dances when those songs come on in the club.”

Grant teaches several different styles of Zumba, and she designed the Nightclub Series as a basic Zumba class so it could be embraced by everyone at any level of experience. “It’s a combination of high energy music with easy and fun dance and fitness moves, all [inside] an hour and a half of cardio. The best thing about it is that you don’t feel like you’re exercising; you feel like you’re at a party,” she says. “[Lil Jon] knows how to move a crowd, so me teaching Zumba and him doing his thing on the turntables, it’s the perfect combination.”

During the Boston class, Lil Jon set the party vibe by spinning popular tracks like “Krazy” and “Don’t Stop the Party” by Pitbull, “Up in Here” by DMX, and “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” by Michel Telo. Grant instructed intense, energetic dance moves, helping participants widen their range of motion and cover the dance floor with explosive movements. “There’s nothing else out there that even compares to a Zumba Fitness class,” Grant says.

So whether you’re a Zumba junkie or a Lil Jon fanatic, you can take fitness from the “window to the wall” this summer with free Zumba classes on the Esplanade.

Lil Jon for Zumba and our writer, Juliette.

Lil Jon for Zumba and our writer, Juliette at the Wonderland Ballroom in Revere.