When it comes to fitness, the typical gym routine can get pretty boring. For those looking to break up their workouts with a little bit of rear-naked chokes and roundhouse kicks, martial arts is an excellent option. But before you head to your first martial arts class, there are a few things to keep in mind. We spoke to seasoned martial artists Phil Migliarese of Balance Studios and Levi LaLonde of Roots Athletics about what new students should expect when they walk through the door for the first time.
A reputable martial arts school will have a structured curriculum for its classes. Too often, however, instructors will show a couple of techniques during a class without any unifying theme or relation to previous material. “A structured curriculum is one of the most important things a student should look for when choosing a martial art,” says Phil.
In addition to a structured curriculum, a good martial arts school will also have an emphasis on proper technique. Many students have an innate desire to master the basics and push themselves in class, but this can be dangerous. The instructor should be able to recognize when a student isn’t learning properly and can redirect them.
Whether you’re looking for a kid’s karate class or an adult boxing or MMA class, make sure to look at the instructor’s background and reputation. You want an instructor who has a solid background in the discipline and is committed to constantly improving their knowledge of the sport.
Another thing to keep in mind is that martial arts is a lifestyle choice. It’s not something you pick up on occasion when it’s convenient, and that commitment to consistency begins on your first day in class.
In addition to the physical benefits, martial arts can have a profound impact on a person’s mental well-being. The mental toughness a martial artist gains through practice is known to help them deal with life’s challenges, overcome fears and develop self-confidence. It’s also been shown to improve focus, mindfulness and compassion.
Aside from the physical benefits, martial arts can provide a social community for its students. Students learn to treat each other with respect and humility. In addition, they work together to reach their goals and achieve more than they could on their own.
If you’re ready to take the leap into martial arts, start by making a list of schools in your area and schedule an observation class. A good martial arts school should have a clear class schedule on its website and be willing to let you observe a class before you commit to joining. During the observation class, pay attention to what the instructor does and doesn’t do, how the student body interacts and how the instructor conducts class. If you notice anything that makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t sit right with you, cross that school off your list. You’ll thank yourself later for doing your research!