An order issued earlier this month by the head of the Iranian Sports for All Federation, effectively banned Zumba classes in the country, for "being contrary to Islamic precepts," The New York Times reported.
In a public letter to a provincial official in the country, Ali Majd Ara, who heads the federation which aims to promote sports and a healthy lifestyle in the country, wrote:
"Considering that activities such as Zumba, performance of rhythmic movements and dancing in any form and under any title lacks legal credibility, I request that you issue an order to ban such movements.”
Iranian Zumba fans not happy with the decision
Speaking to The New York Times, Sepideh Heydari, a 33-year-old nail specialist who has been taking Zumba classes for the last two years was terribly upset by the decision.
Like many, Heydari enjoys Zumba, a dance fitness program that blends Latin and international choreographies.
“I like it because it’s fun. I become happy, and my spirit is uplifted when I dance,” she said, adding that she's angered by the fact that "suddenly someone comes and says this or that is not allowed."
Sunny Nafisi, 33, a Zumba instructor who works in an upscale Tehran gym was also shocked by the decision.
When asked if this is the end of Zumba in Iran, Nafisi defiantly said, “of course not, Zumba will not be stopped."
"I have 40 students — they want to work out. I’ll just rename the class," she told The New York Times.
Iranian officials aren't the only ones banning the sport in Iran
For Nafisi, Iran’s clerics aren't the only obstacle facing Zumba in the country.
Zumba is also "illegal in Iran because of sanctions,” she said, adding that just last year the American company behind the workout had revoked her instructor permit.
Ms. Nafisi received a letter saying that she would get her permit back "only if she moved to a different country."
This is because, like many others, the company strictly interprets and applies U.S. sanctions on Iran.