Combining elements of South African dance with structured steps based on the forms of letters and numbers, the hottest fitness craze in Europe has made its way to South Brunswick.
Monmouth Junction's New York Sports Club is at the forefront of bringing Bokwa to America. Participants in the Bokwa class draw letters and numbers with their feet while performing a cardio workout routine to popular music. The program is structured so any age group can participate and thrive in the program.
"This is something that was new and upcoming in an industry where people always want to know the next greatest thing and be on the cutting edge of the latest routine," said Bokwa instructor Giancarla Pozzo. "What interested me about Bokwa was that it's so easy to follow, but still has the element of dance people like in class. They don't want to come into a group environment and think about exercising or be overwhelmed with choreography. Bokwa combines a consistency of steps while it adds fun and dance that helps people forget they're working out."
Bokwa was developed by Los Angeles based fitness personality Paul Mavi, who met Pozzo while visiting a Zumba class she was teaching at NYSC. Mavi offered to teach Pozzo the Bokwa program and flew her out to England to see it in action. Bokwa now ranks behind only Zumba in terms of popularity in Europe, but NYSC was the first gym in New Jersey to offer the program as Pozzo is one of two registered Bokwa instructors in the Northeast.
"Basically we write letters and numbers on the ground and everyone adds their own personal swagger," Pozzo said. "Everyone is able to add their own flavor to the movements. When you see it, it looks harder than it is. But children are doing this all over the world."
Pozzo added that the ability to improvise individual movements allows Bokwa to be picked up by anyone from age 5 to 80-years-old.
"We have a 77-year-old in the class because Bokwa allows everyone to go at their own pace," she said. "We also have a 10-year-old that does it. It's easy to follow and is done to today's music, but people love that they can listen to their music writing simple letters, whether it be hip hop or classical. People can add whatever style they have and add their own flair, while the person next to them might be adding a different flair."
Pozzo noted that Bokwa also provides benefits beyond just exercise, as it also helps keep the mind active throughout the workout.
"It's a very cognitive class as you follow letters and numbers that are queued using sign language," she said. "There's a lot of cognitive effort and by the end of the class people have worked out their body and mind. As people get older they need to keep their mind active, so this is not the kind of class you can come into and be passive. You have to be active physically and mentally, which is unique to Bokwa."
Bokwa fitness is also spreading to schools, as the program is available for one free hour per week to any school that subscribes to the program. Pozzo said she is hopeful to bring Bokwa to the South Brunswick School District in the future.
With a workout that burns about 1,300 calories per session, Pozzo noted that Bokwa's flexibility allows all age groups and skill levels to participate without feeling inundated with dance moves that are difficult to master.
"There are a lot of good programs out there, but there's so much choreography that people get intimidated," she said. "One thing Bokwa offers that's different from other groups is that it's easy to follow and it's fun so everybody can do it. Dancers who want a really intense workout can get that, and people who want to come in and have a good time without as much intensity can do that too. I can teach the same class to those two types of people and they both can get the workout they're looking for."
NYSC offers two Bokwa classes per week on Thursdays and Sundays. Email Pozzo for more information on the class at email@example.com. Click here for information on Bokwa.
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