Glimmers of Life

Archive for the ‘Getting fit’ Category

When it comes to exercise there are loads of options out there, and in my quest for fitness (read: killer abs and a size 10 figure) I have tried quite a few. I think ultimately what I’m looking for is something that’s a balance between midless jumping around and yoga – where you feel like you’ve had a workout, i.e. actual sweat is produced but that you’ve learnt something too. Two weeks ago this led me to try Capoeira…

I had seen a poster or two for a Capoeira class in Hulme at the Zion Centre on a Thursday, but I never made it. Then I happened to pop into the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale and there was a poster for a new class starting on Tuesdays at 7pm… so I thought I’d go along. Thinking about it now I didn’t really know anything about Capoeira before I went, there was some notion of Brazillian dance floating around in my sub conscious maybe?

But Capoeria is (and here’s the science bit) a combination of dance, ritual and martial arts that developed out of the Portugese trade of African slaves to Brazil the 16th century. In my two weeks of participating I’ve learnt that’s actually a sort of game where you use kicks and blocks in a flowing movement, and it helps you discover moves and muscles you didn’t know you had!

When going to a class, the first move you need to get your head round is the ‘ginga’, which is where you take one step to the side and then put your other leg behind while your arm comes out in front, then you repeat this moving from side to side. Get that and you’re well on your way – although if co-ordination is an issue then it’s not as simple as it sounds! You also need to prepare yourself for working at different levels, i.e. plenty of bending and squating that works those thighs and gluts.

Oh and you should also prepare yourself for revisiting some of those childhood moves you never thought you’d see again… especially sober.. such as the hand stand and the cartwheel – I’M NOT JOKING! When the instructor explained what he wanted me to do, flashbacks of junior school gymnastics and the fear that went with it (even though I did reach a BAGA 4) came rushing back; but when faced with the embarassment of not doing it I managed to rustle up some semblance of a cartwheel. The good news though is that it’s not a big deal – it’s not about straight legs and pointy toes but the movement from one position to the other so if your cartwheel looks more like a bunny hop – it’s OK.

After the first class I was warned about the muscle ache (and yes it did come despite the post class hot bath), but the sense I pride I had from doing a cartwheel (sorry to go on but it had been over 20 years since I last did one) and the fact that I was learning about a different culture all fuelled my next visit, and my fizzle of excitement for going again this week.

There are classes across Manchester, the three I know about are:

  • DanceHouse, Manchester City Centre (Oxford Road way) – Tuesday 7.30pm
  • Zion Arts Centre, Hulme – Thursday 6.30pm
  • Waterside Arts Centre, Sale (next to Sale Town Hall) – Tuesday 7pm

Try it and let me know how you got on! I would say that if you’re looking for a new challenge with your exercise regime then this is definately worth a try (usually first class is free) as it uses muscles you often don’t use in typical gym/dance classes. More active than karate, not as high impact as Zumba but easy to get into. It should get you into a mild sweat and feel like you’re working (possibly even toning) your muscles – I must be on my way to those killer abs...
(although I should say that this is just my opinion and I am no expert)