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Martial Arts Can Benefit the Mind, Body and Spirit

By Brent Gross
March 27, 2012
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Martial Arts have been mainstream in America for decades. Today, virtually every neighborhood in the Twin Cities has a Martial Arts studio, and traditional gyms are catching on. At the YWCA of Minneapolis, we offer Boxing, Tai Chi and Women’s Self-Defense classes. So what do Martial Arts Classes offer that you can’t get anywhere else? How is it that Martial Artists stay lean and strong without spending hardly any time on a cardio or weight machine? I’ll explain the secrets that allow Martial Artists to reach their fitness goals.

Train your whole body. Martial Arts demand one use the whole body. When a person hasn’t learned synergistic, full-body movement, their moves are awkward and weak. With repetition, the movements flow powerfully and naturally. Use this principle to get the most benefit from any gym routine. Make sure your weekly routine uses the whole body through multiple planes of motion, and work your cardio. You can’t do situps, and expect to cut the gut. That approach is built to fail.

Small Group Training works. Small Group Training is by far the most popular format in American Martial Arts today. Small Group Training makes training with highly specialized, highly qualified instructors affordable. In a Small Group Training class, you’ll build camaraderie with your fellow participants. You’ll feel the energetic atmosphere only a crowd can create. Plus you get moments of one-on-one attention from the instructor, which are not possible in Group Fitness classes.

Martial Arts work in the Small Group Format because a person needs the exact mash-up of aforementioned benefits in order to succeed. First, a practitioner needs confidence that his or her techniques will work with a variety of partners. Second, a person must spend some time training without the watchful eye of an instructor, so they can “own” their practice. Last, a person must work with a qualified instructor to learn proper technique.

Train Alone, Train with Others, and Train with Qualified Instructors. There are benefits to each approach. You might choose to train alone. Setting aside time for you to be active and introspective can be a very healing experience. Training alone is not the most practical time to motivate yourself through the hardest workout of your life. It just doesn’t work that way. Training alone can also be a great time for you to self-educate. Get a current book on exercise from your local library, and apply the principles at your own pace.

You can train with others. Human beings seek approval from their peers, so we all benefit from having others who share our interests. Bring a fit friend or family member in on a guest pass — someone who can teach and motivate you. Better yet, make them join and grow together!

You can also train with qualified instructors. With three fantastic locations, more than 200 free Group Fitness classes, Small Group and Personal/Private-Pilates Training, you have great training staff available to you at the YWCA. Find time in your day and funds in your budget to seek guidance from these wonderful people. We’re here for your benefit.

Train Mind, Body, and Spirit. Martial artists come from all walks of life. One thing that unites martial artists is that our work in the gym inspires our work everywhere else. In other words, we’re gratified by our workouts.

Find gratification in your workout. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to reach a higher level of fitness. Reaching higher levels is not about fun; it’s about discipline and reward. Try Boxing, Boot Camp or Gladiator, and you may just find that you like being pushed. Then complement your difficult workouts with enjoyable workouts. We have a variety of Mind/Body classes to fit your schedule: Total Stretch, Zumba and Water Aerobics are very enjoyable formats. I teach Tai Chi Monday nights at Midtown from 5:30-6:30 pm. Join us and let me introduce you to this wonderful Martial Art. Whatever you choose, make sure your weekly routine enriches your body, mind and spirit.