Chanel-Iman-Sevn-and-Ai-Lee-Syariaf-at-STRONG-by-Zumba-1559883613
Courtesy of STRONG by Zumba

Zumba, But Make It Slap: Grammy-Nominated Producer Sevn Thomas On Creating 'STRONG By Zumba' Music

As New York residents anticipate the summer sun, the dancefloor of popular hotspot Copacabana was transformed into a full-blown STRONG by Zumba session.

With a high-intensity exercise led by Ai Lee Syarief, one beat, in particular, riled up attendees. It's the aptly titled "Knock 'Em Down," created by Grammy-nominated producer Sevn Thomas. Fast and slightly akin to his many hits (turn up Travis Scott's "WAKE UP" and Drake's "Pop Style"), the Toronto native gave the crowd another bop to add to the workout playlist.

Scoring a workout isn't easy, but the pairing seemed ideal for Thomas. "It's the perfect merge between music and exercise," he tells VIBE before the big workout. "They go hand in hand with each other, they complement each other. A lot of people listen to music when they work out to get in their zone and channel that energy. I thought it made perfect sense."

Thomas' collaboration with the STRONG by Zumba brand falls in line with the non-dance workout and incentive to challenge traditional fitness regimens. Past collaborators include Timbaland, Steve Aoki, and Krewella. While Thomas isn't the first hip-hop based producer, his take twists the brand's sound with an arena-like quality and a high tempo beat.

"["Knock 'Em Down"] is energetic, intense—a driving force," he said. "It's the perfect pulse for an intense workout. I tried my best to represent that in the beat as best as I can." 

Thomas' beat was used during the middle of the workout when legs were giving out and water breaks lasted a little longer than intended. As Syarief set up the next set of crossovers and squats intervals, guests like Chanel Iman were moving to Thomas' beat with ease. Thomas also joined in on the fun, STRONG by Zumba gear and all.

"Sevn's innovative sounds, blending of multiple genres with hip-hop beats and wrapped with a hint of his signature Caribbean-inspired bounce syncs perfectly with STRONG by Zumba," said Zumba CEO, Alberto Perlman. "By working with world-renowned producers, we are able to provide the best, most motivating and unique beats in every class that drive the ultimate afterburn."

For Sevn's personal STRONG by Zumba playlist, the producer is all about trap beats and artists like Young Thug's YSL Records signee Lil Keed.

"I really like trap music. That's my type of stuff [to workout to]," he said. "I've been listening to a lot of Travis Scott. I'm not sure if you're familiar with an artist named Lil Keed. I love Lil Keed right now, he's one of my favorites. His brother, his name is Lil Gotit. I love Lil Gotit's stuff too. I've been rotating that stuff when I'm in the gym doing my thing, I kind of zone out to that."

But STRONG by Zumba's workout not only came from a little inspiration from trap music but martial arts as well. Lead instructor and developer Syarief found her way to the brand in 2010 and has been the face of their many workouts like Zumba, Zumba ToningAqua Zumba, Zumba Sentao, Zumba Gold, Zumba Gold Toning, Zumba Kids/Kids Jr. and Zumba Step. Syarief says the latest Zumba workouts are less about perfecting reps and more about moving to the beat.

"There are so many fun movements. You're going to sweat, you'll go to your limit, it's going to be hard. But the music is always there to push you," she said. "Even though you feel like, 'Can I still go?' The music will push you and we don't count reps. You won't even think of the reps, just to move to the beats. That's what makes it different than any other workout. We're going to start a bit slow and then it's going to increase the intensity until we really push your limits. You always have small, active recovery bouts in between so you can really catch your breath and then go full high intense, work hard. So that you have the afterburn effect and then you have the active recovery."

When Thomas isn't on the boards, he's trying his hand at developing artists. Currently, he's working with Long Beach native Gibby, a partnership that fits his organic approach, not molding them into a carbon copy of what's trending.

"I think he's going to be super special. He is super special but for the world not to see how super special he is[...] That's one of the things I have on my agenda right now," he said. "It's super cool and interesting to work with a new artist because you see how chemistry and synergy work as well as working with somebody that gets it. An artist such as Gibby, he gets it, it makes it so much easier for me. It's not as much heavy lifting, but it's super dope to see how people are on the same wave and how they can exchange ideas with each other. The end result is always the best when you guys have the finished product, it's kinda like 'Look what we created together.' That's the fun part."  

Thomas also has a few major productions on the way, noting how he's very booked and busy. "I've been getting in the studio with everyone right now," he said. "So I'm super excited to see how that unfolds."

Learn more about STRONG by Zumba fitness here.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Scotch Porter Taps VIBE Editor-In-Chief Datwon Thomas For 'Dare To Care' Campaign

Grooming brand Scotch Porter has selected VIBE editor-in-chief Datwon Thomas as one of several men to participate in its "Dare To Care" wellness initiative launching on Father's Day weekend.

"Dare To Care," according to a press release from Scotch Porter, aims to "evolve the perception of manhood." The project will highlight men who use philanthropy, media, education, fashion, music, and advocacy to "aggressively push boundaries to reveal the multiple internal and external layers of themselves to inspire others."

Along with Thomas, other notable participants include Akbar Cook, principal at Westside High School; Carl Banks, two-time Super Bowl Champion and founder of Gil Sports; Emil Wilbekin, founder of Native Son (and former VIBE editor-in-chief); hip-hop artist Grafh; Travis Simons, pastor and life coach; and Iquan Worthington, founder of The Artoholiks.

“For so long you’re taught ‘you can’t cry, you know you play ball... that’s a hard foul’, it’s all these different things,” Thomas said. “It’s about understanding when you need to step up into a position and when you to need to be empathetic to others and yourself.”

The "Dare To Care" campaign will open Father's Day weekend with a multi-city digital billboard review, and across multiple platforms.

Scotch Porter customers can also visit ScotchPorter.com/DareToCare to submit their own videos about how they're driving change around the mindset of being a man. More information about the company and the "Dare to Care" mission are available on Instagram and Twitter (@ScotchPorter), Facebook (ScotchPorter), and join the conversation with the #ScotchPorter hashtag.

Continue Reading
The signs of a Chick-fil-A are seen July 26, 2012 in Springfield, Virginia. The recent comments on supporting traditional marriage which made by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has sparked a big debate on the issue.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Yumm: Chick-fil-A Considers Adding Vegan Options To Menu

Chick-fil-A will jump into the growing market of vegan fast food with the addition of vegan options to their menu.

Speaking with Business Insider Tuesday (May 14), Senior Director of Menu Development Amanda Norris has looked into the idea of more meat-free options for several years. The only meat-free options on the current menu are their fruit cups and signature waffle fries.

“We’re definitely aware, and I would say we’re always interested in, what’s happening in food,” Norris said. “Specifically … a vegetarian option or a vegan option is something we’re looking at, we’re thinking about, and have (done) some (research and development).”

Norris added it normally takes about 18 to 24 months for a new item to appear on the menu so the idea of a vegan Chick-fil-A sandwich won't be available just yet.  "I think it's good. People like a lot of different choices," Chick-fil-A customer Carl Smith told Atlanta's WSB-TV, where the food chain was first created. "As long as they keep their standard favorites, I think having more choices is good, too."

Chick-fil-A is just one fast food giant who is jumping on the vegan wave. KFC recently announced plans to sell vegan chicken sandwiches while Burger King, Carl's Jr., Del Taco and Taco Bell have vegan options.

But it's hard not to credit the popularity of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat for giving customers healthier options. It's also secured a few bags. CNBC reports demand for meat substitutes made a cool $1.44 billion in 2018 with Euromonitor International predicting the number will reach $2.5 billion by 2023.

Impossible Foods also announced Monday (May 13) their funding has reached $300 million. The company partnered with the likes of restaurant chains like Counter Burger and White Castle. Even Ghostface Killah has shared an appreciation for the Impossible burger.

"It's dope. The first time I tried it was in Brooklyn. You could have sworn you were eating regular meat," he told VIBE in 2018. "I had to really ask them and they said, "Yes, it's really a plant-based food." It's the best plant-based vegan food that I've ever tasted, ever."

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

Continue Reading

Top Stories