By Mesfin Fekadu, AP Music Writer
NEW YORK — Hit-making producer Timbaland is used to people dancing to his beats at nightclubs, and now fans will get a chance to move to music he specifically designed for working out through a new partnership with Zumba.
The man behind hits for Justin Timberlake and Jay Z is crafting songs for STRONG by Zumba, a non-dance-inspired workout that focuses on high-intensity interval training, bodyweight exercises and strength training paired with music to match every move.
“I’ve always been into fitness, and music is a big part of exercising for me, and I feel like STRONG by Zumba was a great way — with my edge, my music style — to put it together,” the 44-year-old Grammy winner said in an interview.
The Timbaland-produced song “Nobody,” performed by his new girl group, Obs3ssed, will be used by STRONG by Zumba instructors during training sessions; the track won’t be available for sale or streaming. Timbaland is also working on another song with fellow producer Scott Storch for the program.
STRONG by Zumba isn’t like typical Zumba classes where Latin dances are at the forefront. Timbaland says his music is designed to help people get through workouts with more ease and inspire people to push their limits at the gym.
Zumba largely cornered the sparse dance cardio market when it emerged more than a decade ago, but it’s facing increasing competition with the rise of celebrity dance trainers like Tracy Anderson, boutique studios with live DJs and black lights, fitness raves and a slew of studios dedicated to barre and ballet classes.
“(STRONG is) a step out for them. I think what they were really doing by working with someone like Timbaland, it’s almost like you’ve been typecast into a certain role … when you step out and do something different than what you’ve done before, then you look to make a splash and bring a different type of energy to it,” said Ntiedo Etuk, CEO of YG Studios, an online platform that pairs trainers with clients.
Zumba has worked with other musicians, including Daddy Yankee and Don Omar. Timbaland said he’s never taken a Zumba class, but “thought it was interesting.” He performed at the Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando, Florida, last month.
Timbaland is executive music producer for the hit TV series “Empire.” He has produced hits for Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Nelly Furtado and others.
“That’s what I am — I am music. I try to find all different types of avenues to express my talent when it comes to music,” he said.
AP reporter Kelli Kennedy in Miami contributed to this story.