Don’t Call it a Comeback…
Every year there seems to be a new fitness trend that starts just as the summer hits – normally it’s based on “what’s hot in Hollywood”, or “how So-and-So lost twenty pounds for their role in Such-and-Such crappy summer blockbuster.” For the most part, the trends can tend to be garbage based on very little research and even less applied knowledge. Last year (and even continuing on into this year) the hot trend was using kettlebells – Lance Armstrong uses them, Jessica Biel uses them, etc., etc. In my opinion last year’s celebrity fitness trend was a good one; it brought kettlebells, which are an incredible training tool, from near anonymity into something that you see more and more people using everyday.
What will the trend be this year? My guess is that it’s going to be another good one, even if it’s similar to a summer trend we saw a few years back – fight training. Remember back to when LL Cool J’s classic “Mama Said Knock You Out,” was blowing up the airwaves and try not to chuckle as you think back to Marky Mark pummeling a makeshift heavy bag in his video for “Good Vibrations,” remember Billy Blanks and Tae-Bo – but don’t get discouraged – this time around fight training for fitness has the potential to be a hell of a lot more interesting than it was back then.
Mixed martial arts, or MMA as it is commonly referred, has broken into the mainstream. The sport once referred to as “human cockfighting” is now the subject of Hollywood feature films and an exceedingly popular reality show. The sport is also making cameos on MTV and VH1 reality shows and fighters are making appearances in television shows, music videos, commercials and movies.
The fighters (with the exception of some heavyweights and super heavyweights) have picture perfect physiques, as do the actors who portray them in the films – which is precisely why fight training is the most likely option for this summer’s celebrity fitness trend.
Of course there will be some celebrity trainers who come up with a way to capitalize on MMA’s recent surge of popularity, offering watered down versions of a fighter’s workout on DVD for an excessive amount of money, and if it is even remotely reminiscent of an actual fighter’s workout it will produce results. Fighter’s are among the best conditioned athletes in the world for a reason, because the workouts that they follow are intense – they build muscle, burn fat, increase flexibility, build endurance and develop coordination.
You don’t necessarily need this year’s Billy Blanks Tae-boing you into better shape, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t greatly benefit from training like a fighter. You don’t even have to get choked out, or get your brains bashed in – sparring is only a portion of what professional fighters do in their training that helps them develop their insanely high level of fitness.
Many fight camps have their fighters training in circuit style to promote conditioning while building muscle. They use a wide variety of implements to both mimic the conditions of a fight and to produce the best possible results. In addition to lifting weights and doing traditional conditioning exercise, fighters can often be seen: swinging sledge hammers, flipping tires, dragging weighted sleds, lugging sandbags as well as using the old boxing standby’s – medicine balls and jump ropes. Fight training produces incredible results because the programs are intelligently designed and intensely performed.
If you can afford a trip to a good MMA gym, give it a whirl. You can learn from a professional trainer (one who most likely practices what they preach, unlike many of the self professed “guru’s” trying to sell you the expensive programs used by the celebrities) all of the ins and outs of a fighter’s workout and if you stick out the training you’ll get the added bonus of learning how to defend yourself. You’ll get to “roll” with other students and get the satisfaction of some friendly competition while you work yourself into better condition and you’ll likely get tips on many other aspects of training as well.
If you don’t think that an MMA gym is an atmosphere that you will thrive in there are several very affordable fitness programs written by highly respected fitness professionals that are designed to help combat athlete’s performance, or to give the average citizen the road map to better health via a fighter style workout , guys like:
There is no doubt about it – fighter style workouts (if followed properly) will kick your ass. Punching and kicking heavy bags, swinging hammers and throwing sandbags is fun, incredibly effective and it relieves stress – so don’t necessarily dismiss it just because it could become the latest summer fitness trend, embrace it as your new training modality and you won’t be disappointed.
About Jeff Wilson Jeff Wilson has been involved in some form of sports and athletic training for more than two decades: as an athlete, a trainer and a writer.