Tone up to Take Down; How Barre can Benefit an Ultimate Fighter by Allie Marszalek

Tone up to Take Down; How Barre can Benefit an Ultimate Fighter by Allie Marszalek

Allie Marszalek has been active through sports and exercise throughout most of her life. Her training in combat sports began in childhood, as Allie was a student at the J.H. Kim Tae Kwon Do institute for over ten years. She received her black belt from their Boston location in 2010. After this, she trained in boxing technique at the Nonantum Boxing Club in Newton, MA on and off during 2012. It was around this time that Allie found her Yoga mat through elective credit classes during college. Allie has since practiced both Yoga and Barre regularly at Shanti Yoga (formally known as Bcalm Power Yoga) in her hometown of Hopkinton, MA. Allie received her RYT-200 from here in May, 2017. Most recently, Allie completed Barre Teacher Training with Leslie Guerin. Allie is looking forward to spreading her love of fitness through teaching in the future. 

Tone up to Take Down; How Barre can Benefit an Ultimate Fighter

Barre is a fitness class combining pilates, yoga and ballet moves to give you beautiful, sculpted, lean muscles. Non dancers are able to experience all of these benefits without the impact and injuries dancers endure, because who wants those? Now, who comes to mind when picturing a Barre class? Fit and toned women most likely. Mostly young, slender, sleek Julia Roberts esqe housewives and fitness forward ladies. Right?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is an extreme combat sport in which contestants are permitted to use the fighting techniques of wrestling and boxing but also those of martial arts - such as kickboxing, judo, and karate. Who comes to mind when asked to envision an MMA gym? Conor Mcgregor? Lots of big Men? Tall? Short? Muscular as the day is long? Also, Ronda Rousey hopefully…Right?

Now picture those men (and Ronda) in your favorite Barre class. Can’t see it? You should! Strength, speed, flexibility, and endurance are cornerstones of a fighter's training regimen. According to Men’s Fitness, MMA fighters commonly train using the MATRX class—a cutting edge routine that incorporates TRX suspension. TRX increases your movement capacity and engages your muscle fibers in a way free weights and machines can’t because it utilizes your own body weight from various angles. A fighter’s stability, flexibility and endurance are strengthened and most of all, their mind is engaged...sound familiar yet?

Barre, and specifically BarSculpt is broken down into 8 main components: cardio boost, arms, thigh work, seatwork, under the bar, abdominals, and a cool down; all with specific stretching in between. Each section of a class utilizes tiny, isometric movements to target muscles both big and small. Didn’t know that the tiny space between your low bum cheek and upper thigh can be sore? You will now. Barres’ main goal (specifically when working under the bar) is to strengthen and tone muscles while training them to work in tangent with the body’s other muscle groups.

Core is one of the most essential muscle groups for a fighter to keep engaged. Everything originates from here. A knee strike will not be effective if it is coming primarily from the hip flexor. In order to properly execute this, one must ground down through the (slightly bent) standing leg, engage and stabilize the core to lift your leg, while exploding upward with the knee as if it were going to power all the way through your opponent. At this point you are probably thinking more along the lines of Fight Club and not so much Black Swan. Stay with me here. Picture working under the bar in Flat Back. You can’t lift your leg very high without pushing up on the bar with your arms, and lighting up your abs on the way down. Suddenly everything is working, top to bottom in order to keep the legs off of the ground. Now you’re shaking wondering why on earth you paid money to be here.

Funk Roberts of ONNIT Academy explains that the same rules hold true when throwing punches. If your core is strong when your fist lands, the force of your strike will transfer through your opponent. Generating a knockout punch, thanks to the strength of a stable core. The force generated from the legs and through the core during a Judo throw, is one example of this. Every muscle works together, stringing together one by one, in order to deliver the most effective strike.

Fighters do not typically train with heavy weights. Trainers are constantly finding ways to evolve and create body weight routines, helping their clients to be as strong and as quick as they can be.

“I don’t lift weights at all. Every muscle people see on my body is for a task. Whenever I want to be able to do a certain move or action, I put the work in until I can. To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed weightlifting because there’s no problem solving. With fighting I’m solving a problem, so I don’t think about being tired. we try to keep my muscles constantly guessing and my mind entertained. There’s no point in training if you’re not having fun.” - Ronda Rousey to TRAIN (2016). This type of problem solving comes up in BarSculpt. While folding over the bar for example, students are training their brains constantly. Pushing one hand forward as you pull the other back, in an effort to keep the hips even up and down, as well as forward and back forces one to learn where their body parts are in space.

Barre and Mixed Martial arts are both intense mind body practices. The key to success in both is toning and stretching all muscle groups to gain strength and avoid injury, all while building awareness and endurance. Most importantly, both practices train these muscle groups to work together in order to perform high energy tasks. Anyone involved in martial arts as a career or hobby could benefit from adding barre to their training regimine. Swapping out a cage for a bar just might be their key to success.

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