Martial-arts master Francis Farley conquered his childhood timidity by studiously practicing martial arts. He went on to win the North American middleweight title in 1989, and by 1993, he had won the International Sport Karate Association middleweight championship, holding on to that title for five years. He decided to open Farley's Kickboxing Academy, a dojo with a full weight room and boxing ring, in order to teach others various kicks and jabs gleaned from his successful 27-win, 2-loss career, which featured 17 knockouts and one intimidating finger wag. Francis's passion for martial arts—and fitness in general—led him to pair up with instructors such as Joey Thomas, a professional surfer and black belt in Brazilian jujitsu; Willow Brown, the facility's yoga expert, who has more than 10 years of teaching experience; and MMA coach Mike Roberts. These gurus help fitness seekers of all levels blast calories, learn self defense, or gain spiritual tranquility, and they adhere to the motto, "You don't have to be a fighter to train like one," as opposed to, "Once a couch potato, always a couch potato."
Karate classes help foster discipline and self-confidence in both children and adults. Kids learn better listening sills, self-defense techniques, and how to karate chop their way through every door in the house. Advanced-degree black-belt instructors lead adults through kicks, straight-arms punches, and other karate moves that blast through calories and sculpt muscles.
At Minorsan Self-Defense & Fitness, the team of instructors share their wealth of knowledge to equip students with real-world self-defense skills, but their classes also focus on fitness. They also branch out into dance-based Zumba, kickboxing, and BodyPump––a class that mingles weightlifting with upbeat music. Kids are welcome, too, with martial arts programs that instill them with leadership skills.
When he’s not busy hanging out with the cast of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, Master Andrew Fanelli leads a slew of martial-arts programs at All-Pro Tae Kwon Do. He and his team of instructors lead classes in disciplines such as tae kwon do, muay thai, boxing, boot camp, kickboxing, and self-defense. Designed for students aged 3 and older, classes focus on fitness and wellness as well as self-defense, discipline, respect, and courage.
Xtreme Martial Arts & Fitness Center’s owner, Payam Bagheri, takes on students aged 3–60 in his quest to spread the art of muay thai. Far from regarding the ancient martial art—which incorporates strikes from the fists, feet, elbows, and knees—as simply a means of fighting or very forcefully hailing a cab, Payam and his staff also gear classes toward fitness with their X-Fit kickboxing programs. All lessons take place in their 5,000-square-foot facility, where students battle punching bags or spar against padded partners. An additional 2,000-square-foot personal-training studio provides space for one-on-one conditioning, which removes all competitive aspects from training, aside from the quest to wipe that smug smile off of your shadow’s face.
Weak bodies are whittled into lean, muscular fighting machines as instructors at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) teach the martial arts styles used for UFC competition, self-defense, and overall conditioning. Men, women, and kids train in the company of students such as professional fighter Cain Velasquez and instructor Daniel Cormier, a former Olympian. AKA splits its MMA, jujitsu, and muay thai kickboxing classes among four facilities, with group-training sessions and private professional sessions taking place in modern training studios with heavy bags, speed bags, and Olympic-grade mats. The Hillside location also features a professional-size ring for sparring or marriage-proposal practice, and the two-story AKA headquarters on Realm Avenue highlights an MMA cage, TRX suspension room, and cardio theater stocked with StairMasters and Jacobs Ladder machines.