How Bokwa Fitness Will Whip You Into Shape

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on October 15, 2015Written by Kristin Buettner
How Bokwa Fitness Will Whip You Into Shape

“A, B, C …it’s easy as 1, 2, 3.”

When it comes to Bokwa Fitness, these lyrics can be taken quite literally. Bokwa is a cardio dance class that has you drawing letters and numbers with your feet while shimmying to the beat of the music.

The reason for the alphabet-centric choreography? It’s easy for anyone to pick up quickly, no fancy footwork necessary. And once the basic steps are mastered, dancers can add their own freestyle moves like explosive arm movements, shimmies, and hip bumps.

The magic behind these instructor-led classes is the combination of high-energy music, easy-to-master moves, and the freedom for creative dance expression. This has helped Bokwa Fitness grow to be a bona fide workout craze.

Regardless of whether you have two left feet or happen to be professional dancer, Bokwa is adaptable for all levels and ages. It also happens to be a calorie torcher. But the best part? It’s fun!

A Calorie Torching Party

Bokwa enthusiasts swear that this workout feels more like an hour-long dance party than a grueling exercise class. And while it may be fun, you are also sneaking in a heart-pumping, calorie-busting workout.

Regular doses of cardiovascular exercise are key to preventing disease, maintaining cognitive function, and increasing energy. In fact, studies show that cardio can reduce your risk of developing certain cancers. And new research has revealed just how important a consistent exercise routine really is.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that just a half-hour of physical activity six days a week was linked to a 40 percent lower risk of early death. The key? Consistency. However, finding a routine that is enjoyable isn’t always easy, especially for those that are gym-averse or just too busy. So if pumping iron or running marathons has never been that enticing, this addictive workout may be one to try. If thousands of people are already hooked, they must be onto something good.

In addition to benefitting your body, bones, and brain, regular cardiovascular exercise like Bokwa has the added bonus of helping you:

  • increase endurance
  • burn fat
  • incinerate calories
  • improve balance

This is good news, because maintaining a healthy weight is more important than ever. Studies show that modest weight loss can help to reduce deaths associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Even short bouts of exercise can have an immediate, positive effect on your health.

A recent study found that brief, high-intensity, intermittent workouts can begin to reverse heart abnormalities in people with diabetes. And the fact that Bokwa is adaptable for all ages means that anyone from age 7 to 70 can join in on the fun.

In fact, after-school programs incorporating Bokwa have begun to pop up across the country, in an effort to get kids to move more.

Where It All Started

A fusion of step aerobics and hip-hop, Bokwa has its roots in African dance.

While its exotic name seems to imply that the workout is steeped in centuries of history, the fitness craze actually began in Los Angeles in 2012. A personal trainer and instructor named Paul Mavi started teaching a group fitness class, with a focus on dance moves based in his South African heritage.

The word “bokwa” gets its name from the word boxing (the “bo” portion) and the Afrikaans word kwaito (the “kwa” portion), which is a style of South African music and dance.

These simple movements and energetic variations set to upbeat music caught on quickly. Soon the class was selling out, with hundreds of people attending and word spreading about how fun and adaptable Bokwa is. Mavi teamed up with entrepreneur Johann Verheem to bring the alphabet-based workout to the masses, and Bokwa as we know it today was born.

Bokwa vs. Zumba: What’s the Difference?

A cardio dance class that torches calories and has a global following. Sound familiar?

Many comparisons have been made between Bokwa and Zumba. Both are high-energy group fitness classes that make you sweat while shaking your booty. But the similarities end there.

For one, Bokwa doesn’t require any memorization of dance steps or combinations, while Zumba usually consists of a choreographed routine. Because the steps are easy to learn, Bokwa is a good starting point for those who may not consider themselves dancers, or even athletes. Also, Bokwa is set to contemporary pop music, while Zumba is usually based on Latin rhythms.

Bokwa instructors have the freedom to pick any music they like, but most aim for Top 40 songs, making this one nonstop cardio party.

A Global Phenomenon

Bokwa can be found in fitness clubs, studios, and gyms across the country and around the world. The class is already a hit in the U.K. and Europe, with thousands of instructors and hundreds of studios popping up internationally.

The universal appeal has to do with Bokwa’s paint-by-numbers type of movements. Anyone with knowledge of the alphabet can do them. And most people are so busy having fun that they forget that they are working out. Give it a try! As you shimmy to the music and get lost in the movements, you may be surprised to find that you’re also working up a good sweat.

To find a class near you, go to Bokwafitness.com

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