by: Maria Luna
The word “gym” is staple when it comes to your New Year’s resolutions. Am I right? Why is it that you always seem to get off to a great start, hitting the gym early in the year then finding your commitment diminishing to a mere wince at the thought of going back to that germy, sweaty place? Maybe it’s the expensive yearlong subscription, the torture devices called “Ellipticals” or the nagging thought that you “just need to get through this.”
There are a million reasons to get fit this year, but why feel like you need to “just get through” your workout day after day? Life’s too short for that. Here is a way to start enjoying your fitness routine with benefits far beyond the belly—it’s called Capoeira.
Now I know you’ve seen Shakira’s steamy bedroom scene in the “Lo Hecho Esta Hecho” music video, or the dancers in white pants and caliente torsos in the Black Eyed Peas’ “Mas Que Nada” video. Well, that’s Capoeira! I know you probably can’t imagine yourself jumping, crouching and kicking that high, but I’m telling you it’s possible.
Here’s a typical 90-minute workout at your local Capoeira class: You walk in, shy and scared. Your very cool, fit and (if you’re lucky) sexy instructor, or Mestre, welcomes you to the class. If you have a wonderful teacher like I did, then class may start off with a brief history lesson about capoeira’s roots—Angolans, and other West Africans displaced and enslaved in Brazil, secretly training in the martial art of capoeira. Some calling it a ritual dance, others a savage form of fighting. And when the history lesson is over, your instructor asks the class to stretch in yogic form then breaks down basic Capoeira movements, later linking them together to show you complex, sequential techniques to practice with a partner. And who is your partner? It could be an older gentleman with graying hair, a beefy Italian guy with tattoos, or even a seemingly nerdy twelve-year old with glasses who could probably kick your butt without breaking a sweat.
Now you’ve got the moves down and your instructor asks the class to grab an instrument and prepare for a music lesson. You learn traditional Capoeira songs in Portuguese, and soon you’re playing the Atabaque drum, carrying the chorus. Suddenly the music changes, the male and female players in the middle of the circle start gyrating to the enthralling rhythm of “samba de roda.”
Each day you return slightly more compelled by Brazilian culture. You’ve made networking connections in the class, (fast-forward a few months) and you’re on a plane to Brazil confident enough to order an Açai Na Tigela snack, sip caipirinhas alongside the cariocas of Rio and dance until the sun reddens the horizon. And did I mention your body looks hot? Brazilian hot!
Now doesn’t that sound a whole lot more fun than making the same “gym” resolution in 2012? Capoeira—find a local class near you and try something amazing this New Year.