The Reluctant Stylista

As we’ve just entered the ber months of the year, I thought I’d revisit My Totally Sensible List of 2013 Beauty Resolutions and write about my progress.  But I’m especially proud of my progress with #6–to exercise–that I thought I’d dedicate a whole blog post to it.

I never liked going to the gym, and apart from the free trial sessions my friends would drag me to at different branches of Fitness First, the only time I willingly hopped on a treadmill was that one instance when I had to model lingerie (The House of Vanita thing).

Garfield on Exercise

But I knew I needed exercise because I was constantly tired, and during peak seasons my styling schedule becomes very demanding and physically exhausting. I was getting annoyed at my lack of energy.  However, knowing I needed exercise and doing something about it are two very different matters.

I was certain about one thing, though–I liked sports.  I played soccer and flag football in college, so I thought the best way to get exercise would be to get into something competitive like contact sports or martial arts.  I just know if I signed up for gym I’d never be excited about it and I’d waste money on membership that I’d hardly ever use.  So I Googled interesting options: Football, Capoeira and Eskrima.

It doesn’t get better than this: Football and Capoeira combined.


It was difficult to look for football groups that weren’t for teenagers, and Eskrima was even more difficult to find in Metro Manila; schools seemed especially hard to get into or they were too far.  Luckily, there seemed to be more information about Capoeira on the interwebz and the locations I found were promising (Makati, Alabang and Ortigas, at the time).

Let’s just get it out there: I’ve always been curious about Capoeira because I was very much into video games, growing up.  Capoeira were characters in Bust-a-Move 2 (or Bust-a-Groove 2 for the NA version) and of course, there’s Eddie Gordo and Christie Monteiro of Tekken.  Add to that, I’ve seen some Capoeira exhibitions before, once in Hong Kong and I think in Boracay.  I always thought they looked cool and a lot more interesting to watch than most popular martial arts I’ve seen here. Capoeiristas look strong, fluid and graceful with their movements. It’s almost hypnotic to watch.

And the fact that its history had a lot of similarities with the art of Eskrima in the Philippines under Spanish rule made me like it even more (its prohibition and being disguised as a dance during practice).

Escola Brasileira de Capoeira Philippines

It is a mixture of body and soul, of dance and fight, of instruments and voices. According to history, Capoeira was created by imported Africans on Brazilian soil. It evolved as a means of expression of the yearning for freedom and simultaneously as a form of entertainment.

Condemned and persecuted, capoeira managed to overcome the preconceptions of the beginning of the century and reach new horizons. It is considered one of the most comprehensive forms of physical conditioning and is an integrated balance of mind, strength, rhythm, poetry, agility, and harmony. It is the maximum expression of liberty and keeps the art of the ancestors alive, being part of Brazilian and now, world history.

–From the EBC Philippines website. Photo by Carlo Roderos.

Eventually, I found myself in Ultimate Fitness, Metrowalk.  I didn’t even ask to see the class first, I just plopped down money for the first month of a 3-month package (P3200/mo for 3 months, 8 sessions max per month) and said I’d be back next week for my first class.  I felt I had to commit to a package just so I wouldn’t chicken out.  I tried not to be intimidated by the whole feel of Ultimate Fitness, with the kickboxers and MMA fighters training all around…I have to admit it was a good idea that the entrance had the sign “Leave Your Ego Outside”.  That actually did make me feel better.

Capoeira in Ultimate Fitness, Metrowalk Ortigas

I remember my first class tinged with embarrassment because I had chanced on a very special occasion.  There were so many students gathered that night to bid Professor Sapo farewell (who taught Capoeira in Bacolod) as he was going back to Brazil that weekend, I think.  On my very first class I was able to witness a roda, and unfortunately, I was the very first to participate in it even though I had no clue what I was doing.  I looked like an idiot for sure, but every one of my classmates were sympathetic as I was a beginner and didn’t think it was a big deal.

That’s one of the best things I like about my Capoeira classes.  For the longest time, I was the newest and all my classmates already had belts–but they were all very encouraging that eventually, by my 6th or 7th session, I was already looking forward to my classes.  It was definitely not what I expected.  I did [crooked] cartwheels on my first session (even though I hadn’t done it since I was a pre-teen) and every class we’d be doing something different.  There would always be a challenge even for those who had belts every week, so I didn’t feel like I was the only one constantly struggling.  It was exciting.  Of course, you can go at your own pace, but I’m always curious to find out what my limits would be so during that first month, I never complained even though secretly I was winded out (what do you expect from someone who never had regular exercise).

And though I famously hated dancing (although I’ve been told that times I’ve had alcohol were exceptions), Capoeira is the reason why I’m a lot less uptight about it now.  Classes always had music, and roda involved instruments and coordination (it looks like choreography) with your partner.  It isn’t called sparring, like how it usually is with other martial arts, it’s called playing.  Because it does look like it. And I think it’s always wonderful to witness, with everyone gathered around the players and the watchers singing, clapping to the beat and playing instruments.

Also, we’ve just started learning basic Portugese needed for training during our classes. It makes training a little bit more difficult (imagine having to communicate what kicks you’re about to do and if you don’t understand your partner, how can you safely evade them?), but I find that it’s also makes class a lot more interesting! And unlike when I was learning Nihonggo when I was a teenager, I think I may have more practice with this now–during work times, half the runway models are Brazilians and on my free time, I take Capoeira whenever I can and I’d be practicing with classmates.

I love that I’m always learning new things in this class. At this age, I find it refreshing and it feels somewhat like a new adventure to embark on. I only wish I started Capoeira when I was in college at least, so I could’ve enjoyed it more. There are classes in DLSU now, which weren’t available during my time. I would have definitely signed up. Which is why if you’re even slightly interested, I urge you to try it. Not just for one class, but for a whole month at least. You’ll never get the essence of this practice in just one session–you have to simmer and stew on it to really appreciate it. Absolutely DO NOT be intimidated. I keep hearing that excuse from people who feel conscious about being the awkward one in the group. I didn’t care–I’ve thankfully reached that point in my life where I couldn’t care less–and I didn’t even have the moral support of friends to back me up when I got started. I didn’t know anyone in class. Now I feel frustrated when I don’t have enough time for Capoeira because of other engagements haha.

Alex Lapa Headstand Capoeira Ultimate Fitness
I didn’t know I would be doing headstands this year. So you see, if someone as lazy as I am with no exercise or martial arts background can do this in a month, I’m pretty sure the average person would fare a lot better.

Here are the classes I know of that are under Escola Brasileira de Capoeira. Mestre Fantasma usually teaches them (if you know of others, let me know and I’ll list it down here). I have a package at Ultimate Fitness in Metrowalk, but if I’m unable to attend there, I go to the ones in Yoga+ Makati.

Ultimate Fitness, Metrowalk, Ortigas:
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 7:30pm
Saturday: 4:30pm

Yoga+ Makati
3f Cambridge Centre , Gallardo st. corner Tordesillas st. Salcedo Village
Adult classes: Monday and Wednesday, 7:45-9:15pm
Kids classes: 4:30-5:30pm

KMA Fitness 102-103 Le Domaine, Tordesillas st Makati
Mondays/Thursdays 4:30pm Kids age (3 to 8yrs old)

For more info please contact EBC Philippines at (02) 847 0697 / 09178515900

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