Martial arts: A different kind of fitness for your New Year’s Resolution
January 1. The holidays have ended, but perhaps the effects of the eating, drinking, general merry-making and stress many of us experienced still linger.
With the new year now upon us, we make new commitments to getting healthy, enhancing our relationships and better managing every aspect of our lives.
Unfortunately, approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February, according to a 2017 article from Business Insider. Reasons can include everything from not knowing how to accomplish a goal, to losing interest, to being in an unsupportive environment.
So instead of setting the same clichéd and vague resolutions (“I’ll get in shape this year,” for example) that haven’t produced much success before, consider a radically different approach to meeting your goals. How about enrolling in a martial arts course?
From disciplines that focus on kicking and punching (kickboxing arts and Karate) or throwing and tumbling (Aikido and Judo), to arts that emphasize wrestling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) or flowing and breathing (Tai Chi), there is at least one martial art out there everyone can enjoy.
Here are three reasons why practicing martial arts can help you meet physical, emotional and social goals in 2018 and beyond
- Improved Health and Fitness
Many people equate fitness with jogging and using a handful of machines at their local gym. While these may be good tools to include in your arsenal, the human body is designed to move in many more ways than any single activity can offer.
We were built to run, jump, crawl, squat, push, pull, throw, etc. A well-constructed martial arts program will have you doing all sorts of movements in a safe and progressive manner relative to your existing level of skill and fitness.
This is especially true in schools that practice several different martial art styles under one combined discipline (i.e. “mixed martial arts”).
Whatever martial art you choose, you will rapidly see your strength and stamina increase as your stress levels decrease, all while learning new skills in a fun, supportive environment.
- Accountability and Discipline
One of the chief reasons some fail to meet their resolutions is a lack of structure. It’s often easy to sleep through that daily workout you promised yourself or skip the gym after work here and there when nobody is watching you.
Or, perhaps you get lost in a sea of good intentions and ultimately quit when the goal isn’t clear, and you thus have no roadmap to help get you there. After all, what does it really mean to “get in shape,” and just how on earth do I get there?
A good martial arts program helps provide this structure. Many schools employ colored belt systems that have students demonstrate mastery of certain techniques or accomplish specific tasks before they promote to the next rank.
Regular class attendance and home practice thus become essential ingredients for advancing through the ranks. Perhaps most importantly, you have constant access to coaches who serve as role models, trainers and mentors and help keep you constantly informed and accountable.
- Closer Relationships
Instead of simply serving as a youth baseball coach or leaving your little one in the gym daycare room while you tackle the treadmill, why not try an athletic activity you can enjoy alongside your family?
Most martial arts schools offer programs for both kids and adults. You will thus enjoy not just the increased confidence and fitness benefits your martial arts routine will give you, but you’ll be able to share the rewards and challenges along the way with your loved ones as you work toward common goals.
This provides a great way for parents to bond with their children, whether they are elementary-aged kids or adolescents. Additionally, you will meet like-minded friends on the mats who will inspire you to train and help turn each class into an experience as socially fulfilling as it is physically rewarding. Although considered an individual sport, you’ll soon realize why the martial arts are very much a team effort.
If this sounds appealing, do a web search for local studios and visit those that seem most interesting. Watch a class, talk to the parents and students, and ask about any trial offers the school might have.
Good studios will let you sample at least one class for free. Avoid studios that use high-pressure sales tactics, where the staff seems unfriendly, or where the instructors do not appear to live their message (e.g. they are out of shape or are not enthused about teaching).
So put away the eggnog, take down the tree, and check out a martial arts class today.
Mike Escobar is a trainer at Freestyle Martial Arts in Reno. Call 775-746-3888 or visit www.freestylema.com to learn more.