It's hard. There's a reason why MMA fighters like Connor McGregor and others crosstrain in capoeira. It combines kicks, dynamic movement and acrobatics, all to the beat of the bateria playing music while everyone sings along. For the beginner class I took, there was a lot of time spent training the basic movements and practicing to improve technique.
"Don't kick out like it's soccer," he suggested. "Try to control the move."
Suddenly, a lightbulb went on as I realized I needed to try for a better first touch. "More Wesley Sneijder, less Jozy Altidore," I thought, and sure enough, I caught the foot well and completed the sweep smoothly.
Moments like that are when fitness works for me, because I'm not even thinking about exercise. I'm just trying to get it right, and that excitement of finally getting it takes away the drudgery of how sweaty and tired I am.
The music helps, too. Brazil has traditionally used batucada music to inspire the team before games.
Besides providing motivation, the music works to help guide the movement in capoeria as well.
So, here are my ratings for capoeira, with an eye to how useful it might be to help a former pro like LD stay in shape.
Fitness: 8/10 This is definitely a tough workout, even for a soccer star.
Fun: 8/10 The music, interesting techniques and encouragement of improvisation make capoeira creative and less rigid than many martial arts. There's not the thrill of competitive game play, though playing in the roda is a thrilling in a different way.
Sociability: 8/10 Capoeira is co-ed! It isn't just a workout. It's a cultural community. It's more individual than a team sport, though.
Convenience: 7/10 You have to find a capoeira group to train with. Capoeira is growing in popularity, so there are usually groups not too far away. In fact, there's an academy pretty close to LD's home based in the South Bay that is led by a female capoeirista. LD and his lovely girlfriend Hannah could both train there.
Cost: 7/10 Rates vary widely, but almost every group has a first-class-is-free option to encourage newbies to try out capoeira.
As for me, the group based out of Jewel City Yoga is just starting up, with two classes a week. I'll continue, because I like the idea of developing along with other beginners.
But the quest for the ideal workout to keep LD (and other former soccer pros) from getting chubby continues. Next up, I'm going to follow David Beckham's lead and try spinning.