Fighting Flab

Written by Marlena Sauceda Category: Health & Fitness Issue: July 2013
Group Free

Martial arts-based fitness routines deliver a KO punch to gym boredom

Multitaskers love the idea of staying in shape while learning a new way to express themselves. Though one could conceivably achieve this by finger painting while sitting on a body ball, Axé Capoeira Arizona has a much more dynamic and fun proposition. Specializing in the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira, which combines dance, martial arts and music, the Scottsdale studio will keep you entertained and sweating in a way your nightly spin class never could.


Although capoeira – with its sweeping, catlike movements and high degree of balance and flexibility – looks intimidating, instructor Alexander Addur-Rahman says newbies can go straight from their couches to the dance floor. After a brief training period, most members become proficient enough to work up a healthy sweat. The first class is free, and people surmise pretty quickly whether they enjoy it or not, according to the trainer. “Anybody can be in any type of shape and do it, and be good at it.”

For around the same monthly cost as a gym membership, Axé Capoeira offers unlimited classes in capoeira, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and CrossFit. You can even make it a family activity, as Axé will teach children as young as 4. And you’ll learn a lot more than leg sweeps and throws. “You learn the culture, you learn dance, music, acrobatics, even the language,” Addur-Rahman says. “And you learn about yourself.” 1650 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe, 602-345-1561,

Other Martial Arts Fitness Programs
Jade Moon Wushu Academy
Unleash your hidden dragon through the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts with the instructors at Jade Moon. Once you have enough training, you can show it off by taking part in choreographed fighting routines. More interested in dance? They also offer classes in the centuries-old lion, dragon, and Chinese opera dances. Multiple locations,

Phoenix Longevity Arts
If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, you might be interested in tai chi. Though it originated as a self-defense method, tai chi looks and feels like a slow dance. A soft martial art seen as a form of meditation, the discipline removes stress from the body and mind, all while focusing on core strength. 1200 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480-894-8588,

An acronym for neuromuscular integrative action (pronounced NEE-ah), this fitness program combines different forms of dance, martial arts and healing arts for a fun and unique workout anybody can enjoy. Incorporating everything from Taekwondo to yoga to jazz dance, classes typically involve an hour of moving to music. Classes offered at multiple locations,

If the Brazilian fitness art of capoeira got you into a sporting mood, check out our behind-the-scenes video.