Body Conscious

Nowadays, Zumba is so widespread and familiar that it’s acquired both hardcore devotees and smirking haters, both camps set in their ways.

But before the Latin dance-based exercise regime became a worldwide craze, a Brazilian guy named Beto Perez came up with it, patented it and started dreaming big. Fame and big bucks followed, and certified Zumba instructors became more common than stylists and copywriters, but once upon a time Zumba was just a fun idea, a revelation.

And this is where you’ll find Santa Rosa’s Carlos Silva, in that place of big dreams. Silva, too, was born in Brazil, but was adopted by a couple from Arizona. He grew up in 1980s and ’90s America, when dancing was secondary to football. But these days, Silva is promoting his own brand of dance-based fitness right here in Sonoma County. He calls it Body Déjà Vu.

When you step into the brand-new studio Silva and his partner, Glen Schoeneck, opened in September, you’re greeted by a big dance floor and freshly painted walls adorned with inspirational quotes by Oprah, Bob Marley and other icons. The quotes speak of positivity and healthy body image, and this is where Body Déjà vu takes its spiritual cue.

“Body Déjà vu has been a long time in the making,” says Silva as he walks around the facility. “We were trying to create a workout that helps you have a déjà vu experience—of a time when you looked and felt you—and keep experiencing it.”

His own body doesn’t need a reminder—fit and wearing stylish black and neon, he is happy to retell his life story. Back in Arizona, working as an assistant to mental health professionals, he learned about balance and the importance of good energy. His second passion, dancing, brought several backup dancing opportunities and a craving for teaching. His experience in retail will come in handy in the gym’s soon-to-open boutique.

“We want to go around the globe in one workout session,” explains Silva.

The workout is based on ethnic and popular tunes from a variety of countries and incorporates moves borrowed from Latino salsa, Punjabi bhangra, Middle Eastern belly dance and Irish step dancing, as well as some inevitable hip-hop. Even K-pop, the crazily popular Korean genre, is getting its own dance, complete with uncomplicated choreography good enough to be in a music video. The playlist is dynamic and invites a Shazam session to figure out what all those great songs are. Songs come from deep below the surface of popular and immediate ethnic music, and sound like rare gems from other worlds.

“We want people to connect with the music. If you were born in another country, perhaps you can understand the words and feel at home,” says Silva.

Silva and Schoeneck plan on offering certification programs to instructors if their brand of workout picks up speed, but in the meantime, Santa Rosa is the epicenter of their activity.

“It’s kind of exciting to start it here,” says Silva. “People here love new fitness programs, but they mostly have to go elsewhere to access them.”

The variety of workout brands the studio offers additionally to Body Déjà Vu—from the yoga-Pilates hybrid Piyo and the ballet-centered LeBarre to the drumming-inspired Pump—begs the question: What’s next for the energetic trend of trademark workouts with catchy names? According to Silva and Schoeneck, the only way is up.

“The traditional way to work out has gone away,” they say. “To keep people engaged, you need to allow them to really explore what their passion is and keep them interested.”