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Brazilian Samba; a party, a workout, a posture exercise?

Today was the end of the games for another 4 years. There have been some fantastic performances from all over the world: American gymnast Simone Biles gave a heart stopping performance to win gold, Usain Bolt retired with three gold medals in his third Games and the Australian women’s freestyle team set a new world record while winning gold. However, while the competitions are over, the final athletes performed this morning. One group of artistic athletes that had been training just as hard for their 2016 performance, are the Brazilian Samba performers who dazzled us in the Closing Ceremony.

Click here to get your first dance class (including Samba) FREE

The Origins

Brazil is home to Samba. The dance is closely linked to urban Rio de Janeiro, where it first was embraced by Brazilian culture in the early 20th century. Samba is composed of many of types of Samba styles, each utilises different music, choreography and sociocultural traits. The true origin of the word samba is not certain as present-day samba has a complex historical relationship with a diverse range of rural samba styles. There are a large variety of meanings attributed to it, including “to belly bounce”, “to be very excited, to be boiling over”, “to pray” or to “jump for joy”.

Why It's Good For You

Regardless of its etymology the dance is a great hobby for all ages, as it is a very social dance and dancers find they get an intense workout without even realising it. Another reason dancers love samba is because it “frees the body from the daily constraints imposed upon it”. Samba performers learn to exude joy and confidence, while becoming toned and fit. It is a fantastic all-round exercise, providing a healthy cardiovascular workout with coordination, flexibility and core strengthening benefits. The samba movement is divided between the head, the torso and the limbs. Its movement is light, energetic and free, the head is always smiling and showing joy, the torso and the feet synching to perfect the rhythm and movement. Central to Samba is the pelvic tilt, which is timed with the beat of the music. The hip movement is iconic to this dance style and helps dancers to develop a strong core, maintain a good posture and strengthen gluteal muscles.

Introducing Samba to your routine can ensure you get a fun and vigorous weekly workout. It is a great social class and the skills learned can be applied in a variety of different ways. Check out this video on how Samba is used to teach kids badminton and to heighten their confidence.

Watched the opening or closing ceremonies and thought, I want to try dance like that? All MarShere studios teach Samba in their classes and with your first class free, there’s no reason not to come in and give it a go!


“Samba can get you to play badminton at the Olympics”

A Rio favela teacher uses the rhythms of samba to teach 200 children badminton. If that sounds like an unlikely mix, get this: his son is representing Brazil in the Olympics.


1 David Appleby, The Music of Brazil. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1982, 112 pp.

2 Peter Fryer, Rhythms of Resistance: African Musical Heritage in Brazil, London, Pluto Press, 2000, xiii pp. 

3  Parker, R. (2003) The Carnivalization of the World, in Perspectives on Las Américas: A Reader in Culture, History, & Representation (eds M. C. Gutmann, F. V. Matos Rodríguez, L. Stephen and P. Zavella), Blackwell Publishers Ltd, Malden, MA, USA. doi: 10.1002/9780470753538.ch12, 221 pp.

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