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Continued: MMA fitness challenges everyday people to get into fighting shape

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 18, 2013 - 6:51 PM

Though he likes sparring with his personal trainer, Hallman has no plans to fight competitively.

“I’m 40 with a family. I have no inclinations to do any of that,” he said.

Gaining new followers

Boxing and kickboxing training aren’t the only combat sports feeling competition from MMA. When it comes to kids’ classes, move over karate andtaekwondo.

May See Xiong of Burnsville said her son Lucas, 10, used to take taekwondo lessons but switched to MMA and hasn’t looked back. Her other son, Lex, 7, has joined him in classes at two local gyms. Xiong and her husband enjoy watching UFC fights at home on TV. The action piqued the interest of her boys: “My son said, ‘Well, I want to learn how to do that, too,’ ” she said.

Xiong said she likes seeing her sons learn the diversity of fighting styles.

“They actually get to do kickboxing, boxing, using their hands and feet. They’re on the ground. They’re grappling. They’re learning to use techniques like the head choke, the cobra, the arm bar and all that stuff,” she said proudly.

Xiong said she doesn’t worry about her boys getting hurt because the lessons are controlled and focus heavily on self-defense and technique.

As MMA classes open their doors to a wider range of students, many of the new faces in these gyms are women. Their inclusion is a reflection of a larger trend in the professional ranks, where the number of female fighters has increased dramatically since the UFC introduced a women’s division in 2012. At the UFC’s fitness gyms, 44 percent of all members are women, Sedlack said.

When Bruce started at Life Time Fitness she said she was pretty sure MMA was “not my cup of tea.” A few months later, Bruce is bobbing and weaving, grappling with fellow students and learning how to fall (correctly). While training, she said she’s boosted her heart rate, strengthened her core and increased her flexibility.

But the biggest change has come from within.

“For me,” she said, “it makes me do things I thought I would never do.”


Allie Shah • 612-673-4488


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  • Julie Bruce, left, and Diane Crist, both of Shakopee, sparred during a recent “Fight Shape” mixed martial arts class at Life Time Fitness in Chanhassen. Bruce, 49, gave the class a try when her workout regime had hit a plateau. She was hesitant at first but has grown to like the class and the confidence it’s given her.

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