Feedback
News
2016 Rio Summer Olympics

In the Shadow of the Rio Olympics, the Afrovibe Workout Bridges Fitness and Culture

Afrovibe Workout Bridges Fitness and Culture 1:11

RIO DE JANEIRO — On the boardwalk of one of the Olympic host city's quieter beaches, a group gathers for their Saturday morning workout to a class that has become all the rage here: Afrovibe.

Follow the Latest Coverage of the Rio Summer Olympics

"Everyone can vibe" is the slogan of this new Afrocentric dance workout created by Doris Martel and Maryam Kaba, two dancers from France who wanted to combine their knowledge of fitness with their desire to introduce Afro-culture to a wider audience.

"With what we see right now in the media, we want to show that the black community is not sad, it’s not violent," Martel, 35, told NBC News. "This community is amazing. It has a culture, it has a soul that we want people to experience."

The founders of Afrovibe and other dancers at the Olympic Park in Rio. Charlotte Valade

Afrovibe employs a full-body workout: The movements are usually squat-based or require the use of several muscle groups simultaneously.

But the routine isn't only catering to hardcore athletes competing in the games. All levels are welcome.

"It’s fun, but we really want to have results," said 38-year-old Kaba, a former French rhythmic gymnastics champion now based in Rio.

"There is choreography only for the arms, butt, core and legs," she said. "And this is with the music, so you don’t think about working out."

Even though the class may seem intimidating, the founders insist that they designed Afrovibe so that anyone could follow along.

"I have a learning disability, so I had to find a way when I was a teacher and a dancer to remember my own moves," said Martel, who also works as a neuromuscular therapist serving players with the Los Angeles Clippers. "So that’s what we did with Afrovibe, we created a way that people can understand every movement we use."

"Everyone can vibe, it’s not only for black people," added Kaba, whose mother is white and father is black. "Everyone can dance Afro."