Thursday, August 22, 2013

Have You Tried Bokwa® Yet?


I was recently introduced to a new, dynamic method of becoming and staying fit – a routine-based program called Bokwa®. Many people are familiar with Zumba®, the Latin dance-based program that became a huge hit and is now practiced in fitness centres around the globe. It’s a fantastic workout, and the music really inspires people to want to move. However, for some the choreography is too complex to allow for full enjoyment of the class, and for others the high aerobic impact can be too much for their current fitness level or their bone and joint condition. While Zumba® can theoretically be practiced by any age range, the dance steps in “adult” classes will likely be too complicated or risque for children to execute or understand. 

Bokwa® is different. While still a routine-based method, this South African-inspired fitness program developed by international fitness mogul Paul Mavi focuses on creating “letters”, “numbers” and “symbols” through simple movements. Since the base movement is so easy, participants have the freedom to elaborate their “pause” periods with jumps, sashays and anything else they can think of. Also unlike most dance programs, Bokwa® is mostly taught through a form of sign language, rather than verbal directions. That means that people of all abilities and languages can participate without being left out of the instruction, and once they learn the symbols – i.e. “J”, “L” and “square” – even children can join in the fun! Don’t be fooled by the overt simplicity of this program though – while it doesn’t feel like it (until the next day!), participants can burn over 1200 calories an hour! The music is a funky mix of popular tunes, which most instructors choose themselves based on their tastes and the likes of the participants in the classes. 

I was lucky enough to get an interview with my local Bokwa® (and Zumba®) instructor, Cyndi Peterson. She’s the President and founder of an Afro- Caribbean dance fitness company called jaminfit™ Wuk UP, and in addition to Bokwa® and Zumba®, she’s a Beachbody Insanity, Turbo Kick and Kickboxing instructor too! Here’s what Cyndi has to say about Bokwa®:

Cyndi Web Pic
Cyndi Peterson, Bokwa® instructor,
President and CEO of jaminfit™ Wuk UP

Sarah: In your own words, what is the Bokwa® philosophy?

Cyndi: I would have to say “lose yourself in your workout, for a one hour party like you never done before and just have fun and at the end of it all, guess what? You’re going to lose some pounds. 


S: What inspired you to become a Bokwa® instructor?

C: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I was online a year prior to being licensed and to be honest I was looking for something new and existing because I was bored with going to the gym. I can’t remember what I typed in, but Bokwa® Fitness popped up.  I was so mesmerized by the whole concept that they were just using letters and numbers to create an energizing cardio workout routine, but more importantly it was for all abilities including the hearing impaired. I see that look in your face, “like what am I talking about?”  Yes, Bokwa® uses the universal sign language so instructors and participants can signal the next move to each other, making the workout a fun group experience that makes children, adults, senior citizens and people with all abilities excited about working out and getting healthy, and it looked like so much FUN. I was so inspired and wanted to give this gift I found online to the world but sadly, Canada is always the last to jump into new things so Bokwa® was not available in Canada. I was so disappointed but I did put it on my dream board list of things to do.

 About 5 months ago another instructor approached me about this new thing called Bokwa® fitness. At the time, I thought “no, I’m not interested”, but she said “Cyndi, come with me, you’ll love it”. So I went. Close to the end of the event, they did a 15 minute teaser of this thing called Bokwa® Fitness and she was right. I was hooked, the only thing I wanted to know was “where could I get certified so I can share this with the world?”. I got home and wanted to take a closer look at this Bokwa® Fitness thing and when it popped up, I just couldn’t stop screaming and jumping up and down. When I was all done, I walked over to my dream board and checked off Bokwa® Fitness, because it was finally here in Canada. At 8:30AM the next morning I was standing in a class getting certified.


S: Describe one of your typical Bokwa® classes

C: I’m not even sure where to start. Have you even been to an amazing party, and at the end of night when the DJ shuts the music off you’re still dancing? That’s my class. The music, the moves, but more importantly the laughter and the joy is just so infectious.

This class combines cardio, endurance, strength and flexibility all in one. It’s the newest fitness craze in Canada, it’s exciting, it’s energizing and super fun. Honestly, if you knew exercise was this much fun, would you not do it every day?    


S: How long is a typical Bokwa® class?

C: Bokwa® classes are usually an hour in length.


S: If I can’t dance and have two left feet, can I still do Bokwa®?

C: Yes of course. Bokwa® is designed for all fitness levels and abilities because of the way the steps are structured as letters and numbers. Everyone can do Bokwa®. Even people with two left feet and who cannot dance.


S: What type of workout can I expect?

C: A Bokwa® party!  95% of the participants are out of breath, sweaty, and tired, but they always want more. Bokwa® is an intense workout, and you could burn up to 1,200 calories in one class. Expect the unexpected; it’s not just another workout. If you’re tired of the same thing over and over, do something about and come join my Bokwa®  class. It’s the best gift anyone can give themselves. Bokwa® is energizing, challenging, exhilarating and fun. It will give you the results you’re looking for, and will exceed your goals.


S: I haven’t worked out in years and have a lot of weight to lose. Can I still participate?

C: That’s the greatest thing about Bokwa®. It’s a challenging workout, but it can be adjusted for anyone at any fitness level. Remember, if you haven’t worked out in years, the only thing that is going to motivate you to move is to find a workout that is exciting and fun that will keep you coming back again and again.

The resolution to this problem is to stay strong and not give up so, let’s "Sweat the Alphabet and Dance the Digits" and together we will lose weight and get fit.


S: Is there anyone who shouldn’t do Bokwa®?

C: No, Bokwa is for everyone. It’s designed for all fitness levels.


S: What’s your favourite thing about Bokwa®?

C:  I hope I don’t have to pick just one, ‘cause that would be hard.
  • As an instructor, Bokwa® requires very little prep time, there are no counting steps, no choreography. 
  • The steps are easy to follow and the music is so infectious, but what I love most is that Bokwa® is for everyone from as young as 4yrs to whenever you want to stop moving. 
  • It’s a total body workout, whether you want to lose weight, tone up, increase fitness, build your confidence or to simply meet new friends, Bokwa® Fitness will cater to all your needs.
  • Parents are drawn to this program because their children are not only getting a workout, but in the process learning their letters and numbers. 
  • I love that parents can Bokwa® with their children and that they can both get a terrific workout. 
  • Bokwa® is suitable for health clubs, studios, corporate offices and even schools
  • My most favorite – it’s for all abilities, even the hearing impaired, not to mention that because there are so many letters and numbers your classes are always exciting and fresh.

S: Thanks again, Cyndi! 

If you’re looking for a way to “jazz up” your workout routine, or to get active with the whole family, I encourage you to try Bokwa®. An hour of laughs, music and sweat flies by, and you’ll come out of each and every session with a more toned body and a better appreciation for what your body can do! To find out even more about Bokwa® or locate a class in your area, click on the links below:

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About Me

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!

Today, my love for teaching is branching out even further - I'm in Montessori training to solidify my love for the system and working with children and families!