Getting fighting fit to a samba rhythm
There is a wide variety of ways in which people can keep fit and improve their flexibility.
They can choose from a range of sporting activities, aerobics and pilates classes, martial arts or different forms of dance.
Capoeira is relatively new in Hong Kong and combines aspects of all these activities with the infectious rhythms of Brazilian music. It is quickly building a large following around the city.
'Capoeira is a mixture of many different elements. It is essentially a martial art with attacks and defences, but it's not a fight,' says Professor Chumbinho, founder of Group Capoeira Brazil (www.capoeira.hk).
'We call it a game because of the other elements involved - the dance-like movements used to try and trick your opponent, the acrobatics to make the game more beautiful, and the music to drive it all along.
'It was developed by enslaved people - mostly Africans and native Brazilian Indians,' Chumbinho explains. 'They secretly practised their fighting skills by disguising them as dance-like movements, taken from a variety of traditional African ritual dances and fighting styles. Combining them, they created a way of fighting their oppressors that went virtually unnoticed.'
Some of the benefits of practising capoeira include muscle strengthening, increased fitness levels, greater flexibility, better balance and co-ordination.
'Some people are attracted to capoeira by the music, for others it's the acrobatics and others it's the fighting,' Chumbinho says.
'Some like the idea of having a workout with a different style and with a sense of fun in it, while others just can't get enough of playing the game itself.'
Group Capoeira Brazil started classes in Hong Kong five years ago.
It now has centres in Mongkok, Wan Chai and Kwun Tong, running classes for children, teenagers and adults. Sessions for beginners are available at each location.
Classes, which last 75 minutes, run every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8.30pm, and every Saturday from 2.30pm. No specific level of fitness is needed.
Unlimited classes are available for HK$750 per month or you can purchase entrance cards that provide six classes for HK$550, or 12 for HK$1,000.
The Mongkok centre also runs classes for intermediate and advanced level students, age-based classes and music and dance classes.
Chumbinho recommends that beginners train twice or three times a week. This will help them develop an understanding of the basic movements and improve their general level of fitness more quickly.
Certificates are available from the International Capoeira Society, which monitors and regulates the sport in Hong Kong and the mainland. Students wishing to formalise their training in this way may nominate themselves for a special examination class.
The Soho branch of Pure Fitness (www.pure-fit.com/en/hongkong) also runs a 55-minute capoeira class on Fridays at 8pm for members.
The class is run by a qualified capoeira instructor and is suitable for intermediate and advanced students. For membership details and schedules, call 2970 3366.