Achieve fitness through combat

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Douglas Ellis
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
In today's society, there are a lot of workout programs that advertise "get into the best shape of your life," and I have to admit I have tried many of them. It wasn't until recently that I discovered an ancient sport that delivers a full body work out.

Punching, kicking and throwing may not be typical workout terms, but fitness through combat sports is rising in popularity.

Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed going to the fights and watching them on TV. But I never really thought of including boxing or mixed martial arts into my workout routine. I was more willing to try the next fitness program on television to get fit.

Eventually, I gave it a shot, and it definitely took me by surprise. In my opinion, running four or five miles is nothing compared to an intense sparring session or 10 rounds on the heavy bag.

"Boxing is a totally different type of workout," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Conor Fergus, 75th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft armament journeyman. "It is way different from running or cycling because it uses muscles throughout your entire body."

Combat sports are an awesome total-body workout. They strengthen numerous muscle groups instead of isolating one area. Some of the major physical benefits of combat sports include: increased stamina, strength, speed and coordination.

"I like boxing because it is one of the best cardio workouts out there," said Fergus. "It's fast paced and will test your limits."

During a striking session, you can do a solo workout with a bag, spar with a partner or train with a group. Sparring inspires competition, which makes it exciting for me.

When sparring or striking the heavy bag, you don't even feel like you're working out. Before you know it, 30 minutes have passed and you have already burned hundreds of calories.

One of my favorite sessions is to work the heavy bag. You can throw combinations including punches, kicks and even elbows. That will get your heart pumping for sure.

In my opinion, the best way to work the bag is to treat it like a boxing match: Three minutes per round, with a minute rest in between. As you work your way up, continue to add more rounds.

But combat sports are not just about getting into better shape. There are many mental benefits as well. For me, five to six rounds on the heavy bag can provide a tremendous stress relief after a long day of work.

The combination of strength and aerobic training provides muscular pump and stimulates the cardiovascular system, both of which enhances psychological wellbeing. Combat sports can help eliminate everyday pressures that may negatively impact your thought process.

To me, all combat sports are challenging and fun. Whether you are trying to improve your ground skills or your striking, it's something to look forward to instead of another typical workout. It challenges many of your senses and capacities. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.