Capoeira, the city’s cool Brazil­ian fit­ness im­port

Our fit­ness colum­nist heads to the An­nex for a capoeira class

North York Post - - Contents -

Capoeira is a work­out but also a mag­i­cal mu­si­cal jour­ney to Brazil with singing and play­ing of percussion in­stru­ments. My in­struc­tor, Kirk Mc­Far­lane, meets me, and we have a kin­dred vibe as we’re from the same ’hood, Scar­bor­ough. In fact, I hap­pened to go to high school with his sis­ter, and we kicked some se­ri­ous butt on the bas­ket­ball team. Go Wild­cats!


Capoeira is a mar­tial art and dis­ci­pline. It is a to­tal body work­out that helps with strength­en­ing the core, weight loss, in­creas­ing flex­i­bil­ity and con­fi­dence. There are at­tacks, coun­ter­at­tacks, kicks, take­downs, ac­ro­bat­ics, self-de­fence move­ments and dance. The dance as­pect is what makes this deadly art unique.


It orig­i­nated in Brazil and was cre­ated by slaves some­time af­ter the 16th cen­tury. The pris­on­ers didn’t want their cap­tors to know they were prac­tis­ing and learn­ing to fight, so they dis­guised it as song and dance.


A typ­i­cal class starts with a com­plete head-to-toe 20-minute to 25-minute warm-up con­sist­ing of ply­o­met­ric jumps and cal­is­then­ics.


Af­ter warm­ing up, we train in capoeira move­ments and se­quences that are used to play the game of capoeira inside the “roda,” mean­ing “cir­cle” in Por­tuguese. The roda is formed by peo­ple in the class and capoeira in­stru­ments. Two peo­ple play the game of capoeira inside the cir­cle us­ing the move­ments, take­downs, ac­ro­bat­ics and se­quences. The ob­jec­tive is for each player to try to con­trol the other’s move­ments and to show off their skills.


This was chal­leng­ing for me — only due to the fact that I’m rhyth­mi­cally chal­lenged and don’t take di­rec­tion well. (I should never have been an ac­tress.)


With the mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, this work­out has a spir­i­tual com­po­nent to it. I love classes where the time melts away, and you don’t even re­al­ize that you were work­ing out.


This is a full-body work­out; how­ever, I felt it mostly in my legs. You are in a low squat­ting po­si­tion for much of the class.


The dance as­pect of this dis­ci­pline is the most in­ter­est­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing part for me. The his­tory of it all is also en­tranc­ing — if the pris­on­ers who cre­ated this only knew that 400 years later we’d be study­ing their art!


The white capoeira pants that are com­monly worn for the work­out aren’t flat­ter­ing on curves!

Monika learn­ing the ba­sic moves of capoeira from in­struc­tor Kirk Mc­Far­lane

MONIKA SCH­NARRE Monika Sch­narre is a model, ac­tress, en­trepreneur and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity. She has ap­peared in over 50 tele­vi­sion shows and films and on over 100 mag­a­zine cov­ers.

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