by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
There are many fitness facilities worldwide that have decreased in their monthly participants due to lack of innovation. Fitness instructors, realizing that people were starting to leave elsewhere after growing bored of the traditional training techniques, knew it was time for something more innovating and motivating to be added to their program. They decided to add the new fitness trend called, Fusion Classes.
Fusion Classes are a new form of getting fit by adding an extra punch to your old methods of training. Fusion classes which fuses elements of dance, muay tai kickboxing, cardio kickboxing, athletic drills, yoga, kata-stylized kicks, circuit training, strength training, ballet drills, Zen breathing techniques, Pilates and steps with traditional martial arts formats like aikido, tae kwon do, jujitsu and karate are the latest fitness trends being introduced to the people. Some fusion classes like “POW” a mixed martial arts and fitness class owned by Katalin Zamiar in Chicago includes “Integrated Flexibility,” which blends kung fu with yoga poses; “Martial Arts on the BOSU®,” which “supersets” martial arts defensive maneuvers and tai chi moves with sport-specific drills performed on one or more domes; and “Martial Athletics,” a sports conditioning class that incorporates traditional martial arts movements.
Anything can happen when it comes to today’s innovative programming. Martial arts and fitness instructors are fusing different types of martial arts with step moves, strength training, and water fitness, to name but a few.
Some martial arts fusion formats depend on choreography. Like “Kata,” a series of choreographed movements performed against an imaginary opponent. This format is fused with stretching exercises and balance poses derived from yoga that help you mix the new fusion movements into your old training while securing that you do not end up injured in the process of practice. There are fusion classes that focus on preventing injuries. You can say that this is level one for all new comers although they are optional for the participant.
Ilaria Montagnani is an instructor who teaches at several clubs in New York City, who merges conventional martial arts moves with muscle-sculpting exercises in her “Body Strikes” class. One challenge she faces is ensuring that students perform new movements the right way in order to avoid injuries.
Some fusion classes start of with technique training that repeatedly explain and correct the moves, with particular emphasis on how to protect the elbows and knees. It is best to go slowly when fusing new formats into a martial arts class. Majority of fusion classes incorporate only a few new moves because it is unrealistic to expect students to be able to perform everything correctly.
Another thing that distinguishes today’s martial arts classes from others is the way instructors depend on music and equipment. They use equipment in the gym, like hand grips, steps, tubing and resistance balls. They also encourage participants to use jump ropes, paddles, the body bar and step benches.
Music is the tool that enhances a martial arts fusion class, especially as a way to ease the change from one format to another. It sets the mood of the class and gets participants motivated to do their very best!
Music recorded at about 138 beats per minute is used, but instructors are encouraged to slow the music when kicking or when participants seem to be lacking in execution. A music combination for fusion that I happen to find interesting and motivating is the merging of different music formats into one class. Such as the combination of rap, pop, disco and ‘old school’ with heavy bass and hard-pounding beats! It takes me back to those 70’s, 80’s and 90’s nights out at the disco. Remamber those? Hey, after trying it out on your own, you won’t be able to tell me it doesn’t take you back either. Music is the fitness workout for the soul. Another topic we will touch some other day for a good workout motivation.
Instructors are eclectic when it comes to music selections. Some prefer conventional, slower music, while others are exploring new sounds. Although edgy and tribal trance music is mostly used.
Fusion Classes are a good fitness program for just about anyone and I sure hope it can become so for you, too. As you can already see, there is a varied form of Fusion Classes you can choose from. So, go ahead, jump into the fun and fuse yourself fit!