Cross Training For Physical Fitness

By Lela Simon
Published on Mar 26th, 2009

Lets talk about how to make purple paint. If you start with red paint and blue paint and you slowly mix together the right ratio of the two colors you will get purple. If you use more red, you get a redder violet; more blue paint and you get an indigo shade. The thing is, if you want purple you can't just keep pouring blue- even if you like blue better- you can't make purple out of just blue.

So what does this have to do with fitness and cross training? Well, fitness is made up of several different components, and if you are just training one or two you will never really be fit. The classical components of fitness are Coordination, Balance, Flexibility, Strength, and Endurance; I tend to add Power to the mix, as it has a different emphasis than Strength.

Most people have a natural weak spot when it comes to their overall fitness. For me it has always been flexibility, even as a child I was not limber. This weakness drove me away from stretching, it was uncomfortable, I wasn't good at it and it did not excite me. Instead I focused on areas I enjoyed- running faster, punching harder, and building up bigger muscles. It wasn't until I realized what a terrible example I was being to my students that I instituted a mandatory 10 minute stretch at the end of classes. Do you know that after about 3 months, I could touch my toes easily?

In your training and in your teaching you should be aware of effective fitness cross training methods. (See inset below) Incorporating time to fill in your weak spots will make you a better martial artist, teacher and human machine.

Fitness Suggested training model Time it takes
Coordination Cross body movement
Doing forms to a syncopated rhythm
5-10 min
Balance Standing on one foot
Using stability tools (ie COSU, stability balls, foam rollers)
5-10 min
Flexibility Stretching using props if needed (ie belts or bands) 5-10 min
Strength Weight or body weight training 15-30 min
Endurance Interval or steady state cardio 15-30 min
Power Explosive movement like jumps or push drags as well as throwing medicine balls 10-15 min

Of course there are many methods, so feel free to use your own, but the times provided are really minimums for seeing changes in your physical fitness.

The Secondary Fitness Warm-up Program, which was introduced at last year's MALC Bethany Residential, is designed to give instructors a way to help themselves and their students get a basic handle on the most overlooked of the physical fitnesses (Coordination, Balance, Flexibility and Power). I am developing these modalities so that MALC associated instructors have an opportunity to add the value of real fitness education to their members, students and clients. I would love to hear any feedback from instructors or students about their fitness experiences in the martial arts, feel free to contact me at

Filed under Fitness and Nutrition

Author Bio :: Lela Simon

As an ACE certified Personal Trainer, Lela Simon quickly realized that while exercise was an incredibly powerful force for change in the life and for the health of her clients, without a total lifestyle management system, many people would not achieve ultimate wellness.

After searching for the ideal fit, she settled on a dual certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University in Health Counseling. She used the knowledge that she gained and her experience with mediation and the culinary arts to craft a well-rounded, holistic approach to lifestyle and fitness.

Since 2003 Lela has made it her lifes work to help people become healthier, happier and more balanced. Her online radio show, website, articles, place on the board of the MALC, and answers have all served to spread her message.

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