Friday, May 18, 2012

Punching the bags for fitness? Yup, that too.

At Jungle Miami, we are always emphasizing the many benefits that training in Martial Arts offer. It doesn't matter if one is a regular folk or an athlete. Martial Arts are not only for self defense or for sports. Punching the bags are also a great way to get in shape, stay in shape and/or get rid of stress. Today we are posting an article published in the New York Times. Enjoy the reading and please feel free to send us your thoughts about this article or any other issue you may be interested in. If you have any questions, we will do the research and bring you all the answers.

Yurika Foster working the speed bag at the
Aerospace High Performance Center.
Throwing Punches With Models of Fitness

AS a pacifist I never imagined that a violent sport like boxing could offer me anything. What I didn’t know was that a boxer’s training, repurposed for fitness, could make for a safe and dynamic exercise program.
Two weeks at a gym devoted solely to fitness boxing, Aerospace High Performance Center in the West Village, taught me that much. I had never thrown a serious punch in my life until my first workout in the most hands-on class offered, Aeroimpact. After having my hands wrapped and gloved, Michael Olajide Jr. ran me through the basics: jab, uppercut, hook and power punch. Mr. Olajide is a 48-year-old former middleweight champion who had been teaching similar classes for about a decade before opening the gym in 2005.
“We take the conditioning of fighters and ask you to do exactly what a fighter would do,” he said as we walked into a room where three types of punching bags hung idly.
 Mr. Olajideworking with a student.
In unison with about 20 other students — an even mix of men and women — I started throwing right jabs into a heavy bag in time to pumping house music. After a few minutes I started getting tired but also felt weirdly exhilarated. Punching felt good.
Right jab, slip right, right uppercut, left power punch. Each sequence progressed in pace from slow to medium to double time, or fighting speed. The goal, Mr. Olajide explained, is to develop power, speed, reflexes, defense and endurance. Keeping up with the increasingly elaborate maneuvers called for serious focus and stamina.
“Pick it up,” Mr. Olajide shouted with a sharp triple clap when he saw me lagging, yet again. He gently reminded me to turn my wrist just before impact and to keep my defensive hand up. “You’re perfecting the punches,” he said.
After a while, panting and drenched, I had to take a breather.
At the end of class everyone lined up for short one-on-one sessions with “focus mitts.” Every time my big knuckle connected squarely with the sweet spot of the mitt, I felt especially strong. But I was nothing compared with some of the others, particularly a few women whose punches were much faster and stronger than mine. They were highly trained fighters, and it was easy to see why women’s boxing will finally be a medal sport at the Summer Olympics.
Jessica Clarke, 19, a model who lives in Clinton, said she trained regularly at the gym and had vastly improved in six months. (A number of Victoria’s Secret models train with Mr. Olajide privately, he said.)
“Everyone’s just full-on into the workout,” Ms. Clarke said. “It’s so motivating and empowering, and it’s fun.”
Michael Olajide Jr., a former middleweight boxing champion, leading a class at the
Aerospace High Performance Center in the West Village.
While resting for a few days, I found myself craving the gloves and the bags. I shadowboxed in the mirror at home, trying to work on my form.
The next week, after an Aerobox class, which complements the Aeroimpact class with skipping rope and shadowboxing, Teresa Misagal, 44, a restaurant manager who lives in Williamsburg, told me that her 14 years of training with Mr. Olajide had, in his parlance, “sleekified” her.
“It changed what my arms look like, what my legs look like, my entire shape,” she said.
Though jogging and machines have their merits, this brand of exercise goes beyond mere fitness. It’s an art form, much like dance, in which you are always striving to improve and perfect the punches.


Aerospace offers a variety of weekly classes for $30 each; a one-month unlimited membership is $300; 332 West 13th Street, West Village; (212) 929-1640,

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