I have a lot of friends who have children. Every one of them loves their children and what being a parent has brought to their lives. At the same time, not one of them said they felt 100% perfectly ready to have their child when they first got pregnant. They all pretty much said that there would never be a perfect moment of readiness, particularly for their first child because they couldn’t know everything they needed to know about all the challenges their particular child would bring. This is also true when it comes to taking up a martial art.
While there are some challenges that are obvious and controllable, like finances and scheduling, fitness level should never be the thing that holds a person back, unless it’s related to injury recovery or care. Most people want to take up martial arts training because they want an interesting activity that will help them stay fit. There is absolutely no need to hold off starting one’s training to get in better shape first. Training WILL get you in better shape, especially if it’s something you enjoy. A former student of mine named Rick started training with us as an out-of-shape 63-year-old. He struggled through his first few months but made so much progress in that time that he lost 70 lbs. Read his story here. Pride can be a factor for some, but in the right school, you’ll have all the support and encourage you need to work on your fitness as you train.
Working at Your Own Pace
The key to improving your fitness while training in the martial arts is to know yourself and your fitness level and work at that level. A good instructor will recognize this and suggest ways of training that reduce the physical load. For warm-up cardio, you just work to your fitness level. If you’re skipping, for example, do a bounce in between skips to slow it down rather than stepping quickly into each skip. You can also just take short breaks. If you’re doing pad or bag work, it’s as simple as slowing down and working more on your form. This is a good idea when you first start anyway. If you’re doing breakfalls, which is often the most physically demanding part of our classes, you can just do 2 breakfalls then pause for a break, then do 2 more, rather than trying to do every single one for the instructor’s count.
There is never a perfect time to start a martial art in terms of one’s fitness level. Even people who are very fit are usually a little sore after their first class because it’s new movements that their body isn’t used to yet. So if you’re holding out to get more fit before starting, don’t. Just get out on the mats! 🙂 If you’re starting out your training later in life, check out this article: Advice for People Starting Out a Martial Art Later in Life.
Now over to you. Do you have any stories about how training helped you get in better shape? Please share them for inspiration in the comments. 🙂