Bokwa fitness might be a fairly new kid on the block, but it’s already starting to make a big name for itself in the UK and across the pond. What is it exactly, and why should you hunt down your nearest Bokwa class?
Bokwa is a new style of dynamic dance fitness that is performed to energetic music. It has its roots in South Africa, where the word Bokwa stems from Bo (meaning boxing) and Kwa (a type of traditional music and dance called Kwaito) in Afrikaans.
Despite boasting an African origin, Bokwa was conceived by an LA fitness instructor in 2012. Bokwa classes quickly surged in popularity, and in the UK alone, there are now said to be over 4,000 certified instructors leading Bokwa classes.
Bokwa fitness essentially involves drawing letters and numbers with your feet to the sounds of energetic dance tunes. Typical letters and numbers used include K, L, J and 3. An instructor uses signals with their hands to indicate which letters or numbers participants should draw with their feet.
Once you’ve got into the swing of things, you can then start to add in your own creative, freestyle movements.
Despite the fact that the name Bokwa derives from the word boxing, there is actually no boxing involved in the routines.
Benefits of Bokwa
Bokwa is steadily gaining an army of devotees thanks to the fact that it is a very laid-back style of dance fitness. There is no choreography involved, so you don’t need to memorise dance sequences. As long as you know your numbers and letters in the alphabet, you’re good to go.
In fact, advocates claim you don’t even need to be a good dancer to enjoy Bokwa, which means it’s an accessible activity for anyone of any age or ability (even if you’ve got two left feet!).
Since the moves you carry out are fairly basic, you can choose to keep the sessions as low-impact or as energetic as you wish. Variations include tone and core, which involves strengthening the core and lower body but taking the pace at a slower level, while the punch and strike variation is more intense, incorporating strikes, kicks and jabs into the movements.
Despite the freestyle, unstructured nature of Bokwa, it packs a punch when it comes to delivering health benefits. It provides a worthy cardio workout, where an hour-long session can burn around 1,200 calories. Bokwa is also said to be beneficial for increasing blood flow and reducing tension in muscles. Since you use every part of your body, it helps to improve muscle strength, stamina and endurance.
The easy-going nature of the exercise also means it provides fun for those who don’t want to take a highly structured class.
Interestingly, because participants of Bokwa gain visual cues from the instructor, akin to a form of sign language, this type of exercise may be beneficial to those with impaired hearing.
Many people lump Bokwa and Zumba in the same category. While both offer high-energy workouts to dance music, the key difference is that Zumba involves choreographed routines while Bokwa doesn’t. Zumba is also based on Latin American vibes, whereas a typical Bokwa dance class will usually be set to the latest Top 40 chart hits.