WHAT IT IS
As one of the most intense sports out there, mixed-martial arts demands more strength and endurance than most other workouts. the sport continues to grow in popularity, and more people are discovering the benefits of the kind of varied, hardcore training that MMA athletes undergo. Numerous fitness clubs are offering classes in MMA-oriented pursuits such as Muay Thai, capoeira, and taekwondo.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A lot of sweating, plus plenty of stiffness the next day. But it'll be worth it. "For those who are not aware of how hard these athletes train, they get a sample," says Angel Alicea, an MMA instructor who teaches at Crunch in New York City. Alicea starts classes with a brief cardio workout to get the heart rate up, followed by strength training and shadowboxing. Then the fun starts. The class splits up into smaller groups, which rotate through kicking, boxing, and ground drills designed to simulate the short, intense rounds of an MMA match.
Maybe the best shape of your life. The cardio warm-ups pick up your heart rate and help burn those extra pounds, while pushups, squats, and abdominal work facilitate muscle growth and definition. The intense combat drills test your physical and mental stamina, improving endurance and athleticism. "Every part of you is going to benefit from these types of classes," says Alicea. "And you're really going to enjoy what you're doing."