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‘New Zumba’ craze casts its spell in York
TRYING to explain the concept behind new dance fitness craze Bokwa is a lot more difficult than actually going along to a class and having a go yourself.
Like the hugely popular Zumba, Bokwa is a cardiovascular workout done to rhythmic beats and it’s a huge amount of fun.
However, Bokwa is a truly multicultural experience, taking in the most unlikely influences from around the world, from African tribal dance to martial arts from Brazil.
Not only that, but classes are led by an instructor who uses specially-created hand signals, which not only allow you to become lost in the music, but open up the classes to people with hearing difficulties who could miss out on verbal instructions. Oh, and there’s a bit of boxing thrown in too.
Confused? We spoke to York Bokwa instructor Jo White, who runs classes at various fitness centres and who says she plans to take on more, as the popularity of Bokwa grows.
A 36-year-old mother from Woodthorpe, Jo said she became a fully-qualified fitness instructor after her youngest child started school, and that more and more people in York are catching on to Bokwa as a fun way to keep fit.
Don’t be put off Bokwa at the thought of having to shake your stuff in front of a class of people, Jo says she describes the moves as “dance for people who don’t dance”.
“I’m not a confident dancer but to do Bokwa what you basically do is draw numbers and letters on the floor with your feet,” she said. “It’s said that you sweat the alphabet and dance the digits.
“It’s all done with signs, so I will teach the class with my back to them and make the sign for the letter and the class will make that sign with their feet. It’s really fun – kids pick it up really quickly too.
“Because we don’t have to speak, people just lose themselves in the music.”
In fact, Bokwa is so versatile that Jo and a fellow instructor have set up a class on a Friday evenings which she describes as having a more nightclub feel.
Although the routines can be done to the sound of beats from around the world, the moves also lend themselves perfectly well to the latest dance tunes too.
While only just beginning to take a hold over here in the UK, Bokwa was created by South African fitness and dance instructor Paul Mavi in 2000. The name Bokwa comes from “Bo” represents the light boxing and “Kwa” representing the cultural and traditional South African dance Kwaito, hence, Bokwa.
Paul tells pupils that “if you can dance and spell you can Bokwa” and benefit from a boost to cardio respiratory endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility He said: “Bokwa is simple to learn, but extremely energetic; there are very few workouts that will burn up to 1300 calories and there are very few workouts that are more addictive. Come to David Lloyd, try it once and you will be hooked.”
And it seems that more and more people in the region are becoming hooked.
Jo said: “It’s picking up in York now. I think there are four qualified instructors in the city now. I did a taster session at David Lloyd the other week and it was packed. You get a really good cardio workout – it’s even supposed to be good for depression because it’s a good workout to music. “It’s been dubbed the new Zumba – I don’t know if it’s going to be as big as that but it’s going to be big.”
Jo runs a number of classes in and around York:
• Monday, 11am to noon (from June 11) at Fitness First, Clifton Moor
• Wednesday, 1pm to 2pm, Energise, Cornlands Road
• Thursday, 6pm to 7pm Emperors Gym, Skeldergate
• Friday - 1pm to 2pm Energise, Cornlands Road
• Friday - 6pm to 7pm - Team Fusion Bokwa with Ben Harvey at York High School, Cornlands Road