CAPOEIRA: COMING TO A FITNESS CLUB NEAR YOU

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Capoeira Photo
Photo courtesy of Planet Capoeira Magazine (www.planetcapoiera.com)

Leave it to the "Fab Five" to introduce America to New York's hottest new fitness craze.
Capoeira, the ancient martial arts/dance combo with an underground cult following, was featured on last week's Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. Grooming Guy Kyan Douglas chose Brazil's second-largest sport for its combination of rigorous exercise and community spirit. The high-energy interaction coaxed the shy Straight Guy right out of his shell.

Capoeira is the only indigenous American martial art, originating with the African slaves in Brazil in the 1600's. Music and dance plays an essential role. Traditionally, musicians play while the rest of the class formed a Roda (pronounced 'hoda'), or circle, and began clapping and singing Brazilian Portuguese songs. Some classes encourage to take turns playing an instrument such as a pandero (tambourine), atabaque (drum), or agogo (bell), so that everyone can take turns to play. Many fitness centres run Capoeira-style workshops or classes with recorded music, and without all the singing and clapping. The warm-up including specific aerobic and stretching movements that are great for toning thighs and abs and increasing general stamina. In the second half of the class these movements were followed by more intricate dance-like sequences.

"It's great for increasing strength and agility and can help in everyday life with confidence levels and self-defense techniques," Master Sylvia Bazzarelli of the London School of Capoeira said in an interview on About.com. "Beginners often worry about needing to be really fit, but this comes naturally as you progress."

Eva Jensch, principal of Spa Concepts International, has had Capoeira on her radar for more than a decade. "It's nice to see this cultural art form gain recognition, but it would be sad to see it move away from the ritual and community that define it."

One thing's for sure, Capoeira is definitely not your average workout...