Clad in white, yellow, and green uniforms, the capoeiristas stand in a circle, drumming, clapping, or playing instruments to help keep time for the duo at the center of their formation. These two performers circle each other, tumbling and kicking, seeing how fast they can go without ever striking their counterpart. Though the pace is fast and the potential blows powerful, the match is more festive than ferocious, its participants playful instead of pugilistic. This combination of physicality and fun forms the core Capoeira Resistencia's teaching philosophy, and curricula of its every class.
More than self-defense or athleticism, the gym's instructors teach students to embrace experimentation and confidence through the art of capoeira. They help students master the art's basic movements—which generally resemble a more measured form of breakdancing—before layering in new techniques, pushing each pupil towards a state of lithe flexibility and physical strength along the way.
Tidewater Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's training imparts valuable self-defense skills that can aid students in real-world situations, but that's not all that students learn. The school also strives to provide an even broader range of physical and mental benefits for its pupils. The staff includes impassioned teachers with black belts in brazilian jiu-jistu as well as instructors with extensive knowledge of other fighting styles, such as muay thai, wrestling, and kung fu. Classes cater to individuals of all ages and fitness levels, covering the fundamental and the advanced techniques of these various forms of self-defense.
Although learning the submission holds of brazilian jiu-jistu, the elbow and knee strikes of muay thai, and the strategies of thumb wrestling bolsters students' confidence in general, martial-arts instruction can also help promote healthier lifestyles in general. Dedication and commitment to ongoing practice can help students lose weight, improve flexibility, and tone muscles while also instilling a greater appreciation for the values of self-discipline and self-control.
Rob LaPointe first met the martial arts in 1973 when he began taking tae kwon do lessons in a neighbor's backyard. Like a kudzu vine, his love for fighting forms could not be contained by a manicured lawn, and he began serious study of kenpo karate and kung fu. In 1989, he opened White Birch Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Kettlebell Gym to pass his learning on to the next generation of fighters.
Rob's dedication led him to take the gold medal in Pushing Hands and Advanced Sparring at Wong's Traditional Kung Fu Tournament in 2000—a celebration of his 40th birthday—and his competitive career continues. His kung fu classes teach these practical combat skills in a cycle, sometimes focusing on perfecting certain kicks or the blocking, trapping, and footwork skills needed to engage an opponent up close. Students move slowly and purposefully through tai chi training regimens, focusing on meditative thought and fluid self-defense techniques. Kettlebell and sandbag courses condition bodies for explosive combat motions and hefting deadweight, such as a feral Santa hibernating in your chimney for the summer.
Since 1988, Midlothian Athletic Club has dedicated its 70,000 square feet to myriad forms of achieving healthy living. Whether members want to hone tennis and racquetball skills, break a sweat in group exercise classes such as spinning and BodyPump, or relax in a sauna, they can do it at the MAC. The staff troll a stock of cardio and strength-training equipment, including FreeMotion Elite weight machines, Life Fitness treadmills and ellipticals, and Precor machines, ready to dole out technique pointers. At the indoor pool, swimmers can get a workout on the lap lanes, slip down water slides, or pretend to be toddlers in the kiddie pool. The club also has six indoor lanes, where instructors lead water-aerobics classes that are gentler on joints than moon aerobics.
To help guests recover after a hard workout, the Midlothian Athletic Club hosts many means of relaxation. The massage therapists calibrate their fingers to several styles of kneading, including deep-tissue, Swedish, and myofascial release massage. At the MAC Cafe, chefs sear turkey burgers, bake lime-chili parmesan fries, and blend protein shakes to order for nutritious refueling.
Having learned the ways of martial arts under seventh- and eighth-degree black-belt masters, Sparring World Champion Sandy Petitto took her talents and winning attitude to Newport News. At Xtreme Dragon's Black Belt Academy, she's trained some of the nation's top students, as well as the nation's top instructors. In karate classes for kids, and martial-arts, taekwondo, karate and krav maga classes for men and women, students learn self-confidence and gain toned bodies and minds as they master punches and kicks. Xtreme Martial Arts courses fuse martial arts with acrobatics and aerobics, preparing fighters for surprise bouts with Mary Lou Retton, and American Taekwondo Association Combat Self-Defense programs turn the tables on assailants, as students learn to maximize their instincts.