Mixed Martial Arts

Not just for the pros.

Beneath the inherent violence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), you will find that mixed martial arts (MMA) is a great way to get in shape. The sport has produced some of the most physically fit individuals in the world. As a result, it should be no surprise that MMA is gaining popularity as an effective workout strategy.

But is the use of MMA to improve fitness something that will become entrenched in people’s workouts, or is it just another fad like Tae Bo? By observing top UFC fighters in action and seeing their phenomenal physiques, one thing is clear: MMA obviously works for them. But can the everyday nine-to-fiver expect similar results?

At age 24, Yoshi Tanaka, a chain-smoker whose diet consisted of pub food and beer, was not in the best of shape. Only 168 cm tall, 105 kg, and with a total body fat of 32%, he was classified as obese. “I was living a piss-poor lifestyle,” he says. “I only went to the gym to feel less guilty.” During workouts he rarely pushed himself. That was a year ago. After ten months of his new MMA routine, he is down to 89 kg and 24% body fat. His goal is to reach 82 kg by summer 2010.

With a qualified MMA instructor setting the pace, people can get a quicker, more intense workout while receiving the guidance they need. In her 20 years as a fitness leader, Sandra Seary says that the excuse she hears most is, “I don’t have time.” However, a study by Statistics Canada suggests that approximately one-quarter of men and women watch television for 21 hours or more per week (from a sample of 42,612 respondents), revealing that the people who most need to exercise definitely do have the time. The Public Health Agency of Canada states that “the time needed [for exercise] depends on effort.” So if people hire an instructor to push them through a full body workout, they can exercise harder and more efficiently; that is, if they can unplug themselves from their TV sets.

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