It gets boring to go to the gym and do the same routine over and over again. A fun and challenging way to keep your work out routine from becoming repetitive and dull is to seek out exercise techniques from different cultures. One particular form of exercise I’ve been intrigued by comes from Brazil.
The art of capoeira engages the body, mind and soul through the combination of dance and martial arts.
The dance aspect of this exercise was brought to Brazil by slaves from Angola. Capoeira was originally a deadly sport in which the participants often had blades strapped to their ankles and later developed into a dance form. The fighters would swing their legs to attack or somersault towards their opponent. Flexibility and rapidity of movement are crucial to capoeira, as opposed to having brute strength. In the modern form of the dance, the same agile and graceful movements are used, but without the intent to attack. The two people face each other, mimicking the stance of “the fight” in time with the rhythms of the berimbau, or the musical bow.
An exercise adopted from capoeria that covers aspects of defensive and offensive tactics, while fully engaging the abdominal is called the Bênção Kick.
Begin lying on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, bringing your arms to your chest.
Inhale deeply as you perform a sit-up, drawing your left knee into your chest. Keep your foot flexed and your hands up, as shown.
Fully engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles as you push your left leg out (leading with your heel) and sweep your right arm across your chest to block. Your left arm extends left, “protecting” you from the left.
Return to starting position.
Alternate eight on each side for 16 reps (total time: 60 seconds).
Transfer student Chorel Centers begins the capoeria move by laying flat on her back with her arms crossed over her chest and her feet planted firmly on the ground.
Centers slowly raises her body to an upright position, keeping her arms crossed over her chest and her right foot on the ground.
Centers finishes the move by extending her left arm out (as if to attack) and swiping her right arm over her chest (as if to block from an attack).
All photos by Bridget Stagnitto.