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Is Bokwa the next greatest fitness craze in the U.S. or just a marketing ploy

Updated on January 5, 2015

We evaluate the claims of Bokwa. Is it really the hottest new fitness craze?

What Is Bokwa®?

That is the question we were all asking when we saw a Bokwa® Master class being offered at the local YMCA.

The announcement stated that bokwa (pronounced like bow in hair bow and quaw -rhymes with caw) Sweat the alphabet- dance the digits. We imagined what it would be like and even created our own version of it, trying to trace the letters by hopping and sliding across the wooden aerobic room floor, giggling and thinking, this could be fun.

The class was said to be for anyone and that there was no need for choreography. It didn't help that the 9 a.m. class actually did not start until 10 a.m., but everyone who showed up at 9 came back at 10 and there was excitement in the air at trying something new.

The web site stated that Bokwa was a completely different approach to group exercise... it wasn't. The class was taught by two instructors who were very polite and tried their best to excite the crowd to some degree of success, but following the moves proved somewhat confusing, even for those who took aerobics often.

Apparently the only letters we did that day were C and L and possibly the number one or a small i, though no one was overly clear on this.

The movements were rather one sided and extremely repetitive, though the high intensity version of it was somewhat challenging and fun. The low intensity was boring and since the letters were always traced in the same direction, using the same foot and arm movements, the right side got a workout while the left side felt... well... left out.

After kicking my right foot in the air over fifty times, I actually started kicking the left leg just to get some relief. There are only so many times you can shoot an imaginary bow and arrow with your right hand before you begin to wonder what people see in this new "dance craze", that supposedly came from South Africa and spread across Europe and Australia.

I was not too crazy about it, but then I am not a big fan of aerobics classes anyway.

The website claims it is addictive. It is repetitive and somewhat boring. Again, the instructors did their best to energize the crowd, but most people just seemed ready for it to be over.

The popular music was a bit too secular for my choice as well with sexual themed music and bad language spoken with only the first two letters of sh with the it silenced, it did not take much of an imagination to figure it out and it wasn't just once, but over a dozen times it was mentioned, so the music was just as repetitive and unpleasant as the routine.

Hop, hop, twist, twist, walk forward, kick the right leg, hop, hop, twist, twist... now explain to me why everyone thinks this is fun again?

Bokwa is not different. Following letter and number patterns is different, but the movements were regular aerobic movements not dance and some of the ankle twisting movements were downright dangerous.

As for the claim that there is no counting steps, if you freely moved to the uninspiring beat, you would end up running into the people on either side of you and in front or be on the front part of the C while they were on the back part, so you do have to keep in step with everyone else.

Because it is so repetitive and you are moving on one side in one pattern, it quickly becomes a bore and you find yourself thinking maybe a half hour would not be so bad, but an hour is just a waste of valuable time.

The low impact version of it does not even cause you to break a sweat and may be great for older adults and newer exercisers who don't want a real workout, but the high intensity version put a lot of strain on the joints and because the movements were confined to a smaller space and highly right handed, right legged (you write letters from left to right, so seem to constantly be moving right) so you feel only the right hand side of you is getting a work out.

I will have to agree that everyone can do Bokwa, but it is still confusing trying to follow the movements. As to the claim that it does not feel like working out at all, I would have to agree and disagree. If you do the low impact, you will feel like you are not getting your workout in. if you do the high impact, you may break a sweat, but there is so much arm waving and yelling out letter sounds, that the shy person will feel like they are being pressured to be outgoing when they prefer just to do the moves and be left alone.

I seriously doubt anyone burned off 1200 calories in the hour we were doing it and I confess I walked out after 40 minutes, not being able to stand another 20 minutes of the same old same old.

Many people in the class were concentrating so hard on trying to follow the leg movements that they forgot to use their arms at all, and when the instructors encouraged everyone to shout out the letters, maybe four of the thirty present actually complied, so it wasn't just me that was not into verbalizing letter sounds as if this was inspirational and added to the "fun".

The website says the steps are fun and predictable... predictable yes, fun...eh...

If given a choice between Bokwa and Zumba, I would say stick to Zumba. Even though some of the moves in Zumba are overly sexualized, you are at least covering more ground on the floor and engaging more muscle groups evenly, including more hip movement.

Some people might like this class and if you are into yelling and stepping from point A to point B a hundred or more times in the course of a half hour and are not bored by the repetition, you may enjoy the class, but it was not something I would ever do again and would prefer to make up my own moves and do this on my own, not with an instructor.

What I thought would be a fun class, with freestyle moves and a lot of laughs, was too much like having a substitute teacher in school making you do busy work that you didn't really need or want to do.

Again, the instructors did their best to energize the group and some people seemed to be into it, but if you are a free spirit, running on the treadmill will seem like a vast improvement over Bokwa.

Maybe if we had gone through the entire alphabet and did not have to yell out the letters, like this was some sort of added value to the class, it might have been better, but I doubt it.

The whole class just seemed sort of manufactured to make money, even though it was a free course. It was like they were trying to capitalize on a franchise and say it was the next greatest exercise craze sweeping the nation, when in reality, it was kind of a bore.

if you have a chance to take the class, certainly give it a try. You may have a very different experience from me, but if you find regular aerobic and step classes a bore, you will probably feel the same way about Bokwa.

I would not call what we were doing dance or different, but if it gets people moving and they enjoy doing it, then it has its purpose and if you like it and enjoy it, that is all that matters.

Bokwa Fitness Classes

Dancing the letters of the alphabet... a new craze or just a crazy idea?
Dancing the letters of the alphabet... a new craze or just a crazy idea? | Source
Bokwa dance
Bokwa dance | Source

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    • profile image

      Jackie 

      3 years ago

      Very helpful! Thanks for the info!

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