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Six Workouts That Really Work
Comments () | Published December 19, 2011
"You work with a partner and have to think on your feet," Chris Torres says of mixed martial arts.

4. Mixed Martial Arts

As the name--mixed martial arts--implies, MMA is a grab bag of boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiujitsu, kickboxing, judo, and more.

Training often involves circuits, such as a flurry of punches for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of burpees--a squat/push-up/jump hybrid--, followed by a 30-second sprint. You repeat that for three to five minutes, then move on to another circuit or to sparring with a partner.

MMA is full contact. It even has a growing pay-per-view audience for professional fights. "You work with a partner and have to think on your feet," says Chris Torres, the 2011 MMA World Champion at 70 kilos. "It's like a very active game of chess."

For people attracted to what Torres calls the "who's the biggest badass" aspect but who have no desire to end up bruised, some gyms have adapted. Torres's DC Combat Labs ( has a Fit to Fight class that includes everything but the rounds in the cage, MMA's equivalent of the ring.

Visit to find a gym.

Kettlebells, says Steven Head, provide strength training and cardio.

5. Kettlebells

Can you run a six-minute mile? Probably not, but chances are you can handle a kettlebell workout, which burns the same number of calories per minute, according to an American Council of Exercise study. And because kettlebells--cannonball-shaped weights with handles--are heavy, the typical 20-to-30-minute workout doubles as both strength training and cardio.

Kettlebells were developed by Russian strongmen in the 1700s. Lifting kettlebells is more effective than lifting dumbbells because of their shape and the way you grip them.

Says Steven Head, a sports-conditioning specialist at McLean's Regency Sport & Health: "Kettlebells are one of the single most effective tools for comprehensive fitness development. The swing alone provides so many benefits, it should be a staple of everyone's program."

Many gyms now feature kettlebell classes.

Budokon is both physical and mental exercise, says teacher Angela Meyer.

6. Budokon

Budokon blends the intention of martial arts, the balance and flow of yoga, and the functional fitness and animal names of child's play, with moves such as the komodo dragon, a kind of traveling push-up.

Budokon was invented 11 years ago by North Carolina celebrity trainer Cameron Shayne. In a class, moves inspired by yoga and martial arts combine with more whimsical ones--jumping, kicking, handstands, and acting like an animal such as a bullfrog or a dragon. All the moves involve concentrating, sculpting, and using every muscle in your body--including your brain. "It's very intelligent movement," says Angela Meyer, who teaches at Stroga in DC's Adams Morgan. "If you want to zone out to your music and don't want to be present, Budokon isn't for you."

Mimi Rieger, Budokon director for the Washington area, says the system--which has colored-belt levels à la martial arts--exposes weaknesses, something you may love or hate. "Some people are super type-A and want to work and work and get it. These people get crazy into this. Other people don't want to feel like they can't do something."

You can find a class at

This article appears in the December 2011 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 12/19/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles