Rachel Grunwell

Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Fitness Challenge: Boogie and box to beats

Each week Rachel Grunwell tries a new sport to bring you the lowdown

Bokwa's dance moves are creative, energising fun.
Bokwa's dance moves are creative, energising fun.

Bokwa

What is it? A fitness/dance craze dreamed up by American Paul Mavi in 2000. It means "Bo" (for light boxing) and "Kwa" (for Kwaito, a dance from Johannesburg).

What's needed? Gym gear, water.

The experience: I hadn't heard of Bokwa until I was invited to a class. So I couldn't believe it when I checked out their website and found it's in so many places, including Dargaville, Whakatane and Waiheke. Officially launching at the NZ Fitness Expo, Bokwa classes will be showcased alongside 70 other health and fitness-related exhibitions.

From arm-wrestling, a fun run and boxing to the latest workout crazes, the expo will showcase cool and innovative ways to get fit, stay healthy and be active. I'll be there on the Saturday, taking part in the GetRunning 5km Fun Run. So come join me, or stop by and say hi.

Meanwhile, back to the sneak peek I took of the Bokwa class in Grey Lynn, led by Barbara McGrath and Danielle Freeman.

They both have dance backgrounds but they reassure me I don't need one, which is a relief as I have two left feet.

"Even people who are truly uncoordinated will find this easy," says Danielle. So I set out to test that theory.

There's a dozen women (and two kids) including 20-somethings, mums and even a great-grandma, Hinemoa Nikora. I ask this bubbly 60-year-old if she's fitter than most members of her family and she retorts, "I'm fitter than ALL of my family!" She likes Bokwa "even better than Zumba", she says.

When the music starts, it's like a nightclub, but without dimmed lights, and Danielle and Barbara lead the hour-long boogie, getting us "drawing" letters or numbers with our feet, to the beat of popular songs.

For example, doing an "L" has me walk forwards a few steps, then back a few steps, and then to the right a few steps and back again to the start point. Sometimes we can add our own flair, too, such as waving our arms, shaking our butts or other freestyle fun.

I like the fact that I know where I'm heading in terms of the shapes of letters and numbers, which means I never get too lost.

And the instructors give great direction by using American sign language. I really enjoy the boxing bits, too, and crack up laughing while attempting "the superman", in which we lean in one direction with an arm outstretched for two steps to the beat of the music, before repeating the move on the other side and finishing up with a raucous "HEY!"

Then to round it all off, it's push-ups, planks and stretching, making this one heck of a high energy workout.

How much? Danielle and Barbara's classes are $10, or $50 for a six-class card and kids attend free.

Worth it? This is for people who like Zumba-style workouts. It's great for cardio, strengthening and for coordination, and will get you movin' and groovin'.

Try it: Danielle's class is on Mondays at 7pm at the Kelston Community Centre. Barbara's class is on Thursdays at 6.30pm at St Joseph's School hall, Grey Lynn. Go to bokwafitness.com to find classes in other areas.

Rating: 8.5/10

See Bokwa, and a whole bunch of other fun activities at the NZ Fitness Expo next weekend (July 13-14) at Auckland's ASB Showgrounds. Adults $20, children (11-15) $10. nzfitnessexpo.co.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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