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Capoeira, Zumba, Parkour – New Trend Sports Take Germany by Storm

Again and again new types of sports from other countries take Germany’s schools and youth centres, sports clubs and gyms by storm. The latest trend sports to arrive here are practised by very varied groups of enthusiasts, and include a form of Brazilian war dance called capoeira, a cross between dance and fitness training developed in Colombia called zumba, and parkour, a kind of obstacle course running developed in France.

Capoeira is a ritualised martial art that was developed in Brazil by African slaves about 300 years ago, based on dancing and fighting techniques. The longing for freedom from oppression, and the need to hide this desire from the eyes of the rulers, resulted in the mixture that is capoeira, in which music, rhythm and dance are just as important as elements from martial arts.

Capoeira is more than just a trend sport

Today a distinction is generally made between Capoeira Angola and Capoeira Regional. While Capoeira Angola is characterised by slow movements that are performed very precisely, Capoeira Regional is faster and more dynamic. We asked the Austrian ‘capoeirista’ Julia Hurnaus what was so special about this trend sport: ‘Capoeira is much more than just a sport. Brazilian history, culture and in particular music are crucial elements and contribute to the fascination that capoeira has for many people – even in countries other than Brazil.’

Zumba: a hit in German dance schools and fitness clubs

Zumba is a new trend sport in Germany, which was invented in Colombia in the 1990s by the choreographer Alberto Perez, who also successfully exported it to the USA. In fact zumba was the outcome of a mistake. Perez had forgotten the music for an aerobics course and had to use the cassette he happened to have in his car. It had merengue and salsa music on it – which contained unusual rhythms for the participants and so they had to improvise movements to match the music. But that was obviously such fun for them that overnight Perez’ oversight resulted in a new trend sport. Today zumba combines movements from salsa, merengue, hip-hop, samba and mambo with elements from Bollywood and belly dancing, along with aerobics. It is so popular in German fitness centres and dance schools because the Latin American music makes it feel like a dance party, but without the need to learn complicated steps. The participants move intuitively to the rhythms of the music, at the same time burning lots of calories – which is good for their health.

New way of travelling on foot: the trend sport parkour

Those who find capoeira and zumba too boring, because they would rather jump from one tall building to another, will be perfect for a different trend sport: parkour, which was invented in the French banlieues – the suburbs of the big cities. Parkour is a kind of urban running invented by the Frenchman David Belle and his colleagues. The participants are called ‘traceurs’ and have to follow a route of their choice through the city, overcoming all conceivable obstacles. They run along streets and through parks, climb up walls and facades, and leap over cars, benches, fences, rubbish bins, puddles and even urban canyons.

BBC video ‘Rush Hour’ with David Belle, inventor of parkour

The concept behind this trend sport is nothing like as dangerous as you might think. The parkour philosophy regards the challenge precisely in learning how to assess obstacles and one’s own limitations realistically, and – with the necessary care and consideration of oneself and others – in training until one manages to overcome them. The many clubs and schools in Germany where parkour is now available offer safe training over spectacular routes.

The appearance of these new trend sports means there is no excuse in Germany any more for not getting active. Anyone who is more interested in music and culture than in sport should try capoeira; anyone who likes dancing is made for zumba, and those who dislike sports clubs and fitness centres can make the way to work their personal parkour route.

April 2013

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