30 is a great time to start training Capoeira. There are some physical differences between people in their 30’s and 20’s, but the differences (described further below) are small enough that Capoeira is actually a great option for people in their 30’s interested in the martial art. With that in mind, there are 5 things people in their 30’s should keep in mind when starting to train Capoeira.
- Keep track of your injuries and do not aggravate them
As we get older, our bodies slow down at a very gradual pace. If this seems unclear, just know that there are many olympians who compete at the highest level of their sport in their 30s and even 40’s in some cases. Yordan Yovchev is one example of a gymnast who is twice the age of his competition and has gone to 6 olympic competitions. This is him at age 39 competing at the London Olympics in 2012.
THE THING THAT HOLDS US BACK IS NOT OUR AGE, IT’S OUR INJURIES.
One of the biggest fears people have when they get past their early 20’s are injuries. Nobody wants to get injured and although injury is inevitable, no matter what kind of activity you do, there are steps you can take to mitigate this risk. In the last section I go over steps you can do to prep your body for a class, but here are a few things you want to keep in mind during class.
- Recognize what is painful and what is uncomfortable: a workout can be stressful to the body and uncomfortable. But pain is our body’s way of telling us to stop or take a break. Be conservative. If you’re not sure, then feel free to take a small break to assess how your body is feeling and make sure you’re not pushing too far past our limits.
- Be humble and do an easier version of the activity you are doing. It’s so important to challenge ourselves. But there is nothing wrong with moving a level down in terms of difficulty. MASTERING the next level down, will teach you more than trying over and over again a physical exercise that is beyond your level.
- If something doesn’t feel good, back off and take a breather. Feeling tired takes a day to recover from. An injury in the knee can take much longer. Don’t be afraid of taking a quick breather to make sure your body feels ready to continue.
I have been training Capoeira for over 10 years and still have moments when my body is just not ready to do a certain movement. There is no amount of training that you can do that will make you 100% ready for everything. Listening to your body is important and if you don’t have a good idea of what listening to your body feels like, then I suggest you take a few seconds every day to pause and think about what feels good, what stuff, what hurts, etc.
- Communicate with your teacher (let them know what hurts and if anything is tough)
If you know that you have existing injuries then this is the perfect time to address them. Talk to your teacher and let them know that you have a bad back, shoulder, or knees. Not all teachers have the knowledge to fix your problem, but they can help in modifying exercises that put less of a strain on these parts of your body.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF MOVEMENT MODIFICATIONS
Ponte: (bridge) – Requires some prerequisite mobility
Queda de quatro: (modification for ponte) – Easier on posterior chain
Negativa normal: can be uncomfortable on Leg knee
Negativa Modified: (raised butt) – less pressure on knees. Tougher on quads
Negativa Modified: (flat footed) – Take most pressure off knee. Less effort required.
Cocorinha: (squat) May be difficult on tight hips and ankles.
Cocorinha modified: (higher butt and flat footed)
Cocorinha Modified: (on toes – can be harder on knees)
Rolê: (Au modified) Hover legs on the ground around the body.
These are just a few examples of how you can modify your training to a level and intensity that can fit your needs. And again, this has nothing to do with your age. I have fit people in their mid 20’s show up to class and struggle in the same way anyone else would who is new to the art. This is the same as someone who walks into a gym for the first time. Nobody starts deadlifting 500lbs. This is something you have to work up to over a period of time.
Feel free to talk to your teacher after class, there is no god teacher who is not there to answer questions by their students. Students should feel free to ask any questions they have no matter how “dumb” it may sound to them. This is not just because there is no such thing as a dumb question, but also because the answer the student receives could greatly improve their performance in class. No teacher can say no to that.
- 30’s means you have less ego and are more willing to learn! people’s pride gets them hurt
People often think about starting a movement art form “later in life” as a negative. But in fact, there are many benefits to starting Capoeira in your 30’s. When you’re young, you want to impress everyone with how much you can do and how much you know. Hopefully by your 30’s feeling has gone away for the most part and you can focus on what really matters. Improving little by little each day without worry about what other people think.
The ego can get the better of us in our training and in the roda. I’ve seen many people get taught a heavy lesson because they wanted to show off against someone with much more experience. The same can happen during training. When you’re ego drives you, you want to do the movement you learn in class no matter what the cost. Being a little wiser means not worrying about how you look in front of others and staying focused on the task.
- Don’t Complain! Start stretching now
Many people like to say, “If only I was more flexible” or, “if only was more coordinated…”. I can hear the excuses now. “Yes, I could do Capoeira when I was younger, but before I could touch my toes, and now I can barely reach my knees”. The truth is that even if you were flexible before, you would still need to stretch to maintain your flexibility. Bodybuilders stay strong by continuing to work out. There is no stopping working out once you get strong, you still need to maintain.
One of the saddest things I ever heard was from a woman who was about 36 telling another woman about 31 (who just started Capoeira), that she didn’t intend to learn anything new. That the time to learn new things was over. I can’t disagree any more with the older woman’s perspective and neither could the younger woman. The 31 year old in this example is now 40 and can do many things that I (10 years younger) CAN NOT DO! Though dedicated practice, she was able to improve beyond what many people in their 20’s accomplish.
The lesson here is that NOW is the best time to start getting fit. If you’ve never worked out before, then start today. If you never stretched in the mornings, then start today. If you never had a six-pack, then start doing sit ups today!
- How to get ready for class
I will go as far as saying that there is not much difference between starting Capoeira in your 20’s and in your 30’s. Yes, your recovery period is longer, and if you have not been taking care of your body, you will need to dust off some rust. But like I said, there is still an incredible potential for growth and improvement that you might not realize.
To help you along this process, here are two videos from my youtube channel that will help you get ready for any Capoeira class. The first is a general warm up routine that hits all the major joints and muscles groups we use in Capoeira. If you have 10 minutes in the morning, I suggest doing this every day as a way to maintain the gains you have made throughout your training.
The second video is a solution to a very common problem. Most people in Capoeira at some point experience some sort of wrist pain. This comes from the many different ground movements done, however this is in no way a debilitating problem. Follow my wrist warm up and enjoy your training wrist pain free.
10 minute Capoeira warm up
Wrist routine for healthy and strong wrists