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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Yeo

Bokwa is Taking the World By Storm


Participants of Bokwa At Tampines Heartland

Bokwa is an exciting, electrifying, energising and exhilarating group workout that is taking the world by storm! I went on my first Bokwa session two weeks ago at Tampines Heartland. This fun and engaging session was conducted by Bokwa and Ballroom Dance Instructor, Kelvin Toh Kian Heng. Kelvin trained to be a Bokwa instructor in March last year. Over the past year, he has conducted numerous Bokwa lessons at different organisations.


With Instructor, Kelvin Toh

Kelvin was the choreographer for my Wedding Rumba dance in 2011. He also choreographed a ballroom dance for the ASEAN Para Games (a biannual multi-sport event held after every Southeast Asian Games for ASEAN athletes with physical disabilities. In January this year, Kelvin and some of the less privileged dancers represented Singapore in Myanmar for this event. 

I was impressed by his dedication and profession, therefore I was filled with enthusiasm and anticipation when he invited me for Bokwa At The Heartland on 25 January this year.

Bokwa is the brainchild of renowned dancer and certified fitness instructor Paul Mavi. Hailing from South Africa, Paul’s passion for dance, fitness and wellness motivated him to create an unbeat and interactive workout programme. The name Bokwa is derived from a combination of two words, “BO” which means light boxing and “KWA” representing the cultural and traditional dance Kwaito. It is an intense, high impact, cardiocascular workout combined with South African war dance, Capoeira, Kickboxing and Steps. This funky and innovative dance is very unique and uses letter and number as placement combined with hand signals and American sign language. It is suitable for males and females aged five to sixty, even the hearing impaired. Bokwa is also proven to burn more calories than regular exercise.

When I arrived at Tampines Heartland for my first Bokwa lesson, I was on tenterhooks and did not know what to expect. I was also afraid of not being able to catch up as I was surrounded by many regular participants of various ages and races. 

We started the workout with ten minutes of warm up exercise. The first twenty minutes was a little challenging for me as I was trying to figure out the steps. I have previously attended Zumba (Latin inspired workout), Kickboxing and Aerobics. Bokwa was a little strange to me as it was different from the usual exercise workouts that I have attended. After about half an hour, I gained momentum and was starting to enjoy the workout. 


Participants doing warm up exercises

Bokwa is a little similar to hip hop but much simpler. It is a free form dance with no structured choreography or dancing steps. I was amazed when I saw a number of middle aged women in their 40s and 50s jiving to the pulsating, rhythmic beats of African, Latin, popular dance and house music. All of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were also some young men in their early 20s. Kelvin who is filled with boundless energy was also able to build rapport with his students and engage them. The last ten minutes was low impact and all of us felt a little more relaxed. Before the lesson came to a close, Kelvin guided us to do some cool down exercises.

Overall, Bokwa is an interesting form of exercise. If you are looking at spicing up your exercise routine, you MUST try Bokwa. 


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