Guest writer: Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist, personal trainer and self-defense expert
Martial arts training is one of the best workouts for weight loss. I remember when I started training in Hapkido classes in 2000. I was just a couple of years out of college and still carried around that extra late-night pizza and beer weight. I was also bartending on weekends until four in the morning. My lifestyle was far from healthy.
Within a few months, my body started to change. I was losing the pudge and replacing it with lean muscle mass. As I know now, when you do that you automatically speed up your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or the amount of calories you burn at rest. As my appetite increased, I wanted to make sure I was fueling myself with healthier foods. That’s when I started my nutrition schooling at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and later onto my master’s degree in nutrition.
This week, I am bringing my background of martial arts, personal training and nutrition to ABC’s new reality weight loss show, My Diet Is Better Than Yours. The show follows five contestants on their real life weight loss journey. Each contestant has his or her own expert with a different plan.
I’m so excited to showcase martial arts as a form of weight loss because there are so many other benefits like:
- You will learn self defense and how to stay safe!
- Your confidence will increase because it’s very empowering to learn how to defend yourself.
- Your flexibility will improve because of the stretching involved.
- You relieve stress by hitting things! And also because of the meditation and breathing techniques.
- Your focus and discipline increases because of the drills and katas that you must perform.
- You stay present and in the moment. It’s not like running on a treadmill and letting your mind drift to your to do list. You must be present and aware or you can get hurt. Badly. Mindfulness is a practice that we all need more of.
So, all of these benefits plus getting stronger, leaner and more toned? YES!
Tune in Thursday, January 14 at 9 PM (8 PM Central), for a double episode of My Diet Is Better Than Yours.
Intrigued and want to learn more, but don’t know where to begin? I’ve created the following as a guide to finding the right martial arts training programs for you.
So... let's explore options. Which of the following sounds like you?
I want to try martial arts for fitness only and I am a bit intimidated by the whole thing. I don’t want to wear a uniform, bow or learn to count in another language.
If this sounds like you there are many options. Kickboxing or boxing classes are available at most big box gyms. Instructors don’t necessarily have to have martial arts instruction, they can have a weekend certification in teaching these classes. You won’t go very deep, but you will break a sweat.
I want to dive into a sport, get sweaty and get full contact training. I don’t care about the formalities and history that come along with a traditional martial art, just get me on the mat!
MMA (mixed martial arts) may be the thing for you. MMA is usually more like a sport and after you learn the basics you will most likely be competing and/or fighting with your classmates. Conditioning is key, and you will get in shape quickly. Just be careful that you choose the right school for you. I would always steer clear of big egos and students with a lot of injuries (bad signs).
I want to master self-defense and the explore culture of martial arts and am putting no time limit on it.
Here, your choices are many, and it really just depends on your goals and what schools are offering. You will have to do a bit of research into the schools in your area and I even suggest trying out a few free trial classes at different schools before you pick a school solely based on style.
You’ll want to know if the martial arts style you choose is hard (like Karate), soft (like Wing Chun) or a bit of both (like Hapkido). It may seem silly but hygiene is often overlooked at many martial arts studios. If it smells funky and the mats are never cleaned, you won’t see me there! My most important piece of advice in choosing a martial arts school is go where you feel welcome. Instructors should teach with the right mix of respect, discipline and service. If ego is leading, there can be trouble ahead for you, no matter what style you choose.
Training in martial arts was the best use of my time for over a decade at the same school, World Martial Arts Center, in NYC. My instructors were amazing and the head instructor taught us the perfect mix of techniques that work on the street and beautiful martial arts form that oozed grace, confidence and empowerment.