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SMART Fitness Goals

SMART Fitness Goals Yield Big Results

When it comes to fitness goals, everyone knows how important setting goals is to staying on track and achieving lasting results. But, did you know that not all goals are created equal? In fact, setting SMART fitness goals can make all the difference. The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely—all of which are important in reaching your desired outcome.

Setting SMART goals will help you stay on track and remain committed to completing every planned workout and sticking to healthy meal options.

So, what’s the best way to start creating SMART fitness goals? Use the tool below to help you better understand what makes a SMART fitness goal so powerful.

SMART Goals

Now, let’s put our learning into action!

Clearly, we’ve all heard a fitness goal like “I will exercise more”. While that is a great place to start, it can be difficult to measure your progress with such a vague statement.

And let’s face it, it’s pretty challenging to keep chasing a goal when it just doesn’t feel like you’re making any progress.

So, how do we revise this goal statement to set us up for success?

Instead of saying “I will exercise more”, we can easily turn this into a SMART goal by saying “I will attend 45 minute kickboxing classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next 6 months”. As you can see this goal is now specific (kickboxing), measurable (45 min classes, 2 times per week), attainable (challenging but realistic), relevant (pertains to fitness), and timely (6 months).

It’s important to note that fitness goals typically fall into three main categories: physical goals, health goals, and behavior goals. Creating SMART fitness goals in each of these categories will set you on course to creating lasting habits that will yield long-term success and have you living your best life yet.

Ready to set some SMART fitness goals and get the results you deserve? At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.

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Make Your Resolution Stick

One of the most important aspects of any goal-setting activity that you have is to make your resolution stick. Of course, most people would agree that while that’s easy to say it’s more challenging to actually do. So, here are a few quick tips and tricks you can quickly use to make your resolution stick:

Know What You Want

You must first know what it is you hope to accomplish. Whether it’s to fix some mistakes of the past or avoid some undesired future, knowing what it is you actually want to achieve is the first and most important step.

In fact, some of the most successful people agree that creating a vision board is key to actualizing your goals. There are several reasons that this is absolutely true but here are some key points to consider:

  1. You can SEE your goals daily
  2. You will FEEL like you’re making progress
  3. You have a greater SENSE of motivation

Of course, if making a vision board seems daunting to you, simply find some images that inspire you and keep them where you can see them daily.

Remember, this must be personal and doable… but most of all, what you ACTUALLY want. Because people who know what it is they truly want always get it.

Have A Plan

There’s a good reason that books like Discipline Equals Freedom and Atomic Habits are so popular: success only comes from consistent planning and daily execution.

Without a plan to achieve your goals, your resolutions simply become wishes. Having coaches and mentors to support you is crucial and key to accomplishing your goals.

In fact, one of the best examples of this is in mixed martial arts training at Invictus. Each new belt rank and level quickly support your wellness goals (whether physical, mental, etc) while keeping you challenged and growing. It’s easily one of the best ways to feel good and get a great workout while making tangible progress.

Daily Execution

Put simply: your goals won’t work unless you do.

Recently, during one of our small group classes, the coaches were having a conversation with members about small, daily actions and how quickly they can add up. The coaches asked the question: have any of you ever done more than 7,000 push-ups? Everybody agreed that they didn’t know.  The coaches then encouraged the members that if they committed to only 20 push-ups per day that they would accomplish having completed over 7,000 push-ups in a year.

Everyone was stunned.

No one had thought it was that simple.

Small, daily action creates big results. To do this, here are a few suggestions to leverage to turn your goals into results:

  1. Set a reminder on your phone
  2. Tell a friend to help keep you accountable
  3. Join a community of like-minded people
  4. Hire a coach to help you
  5. Schedule your actions

The most important lesson here is this: take consistent and intentional action daily.

Track Your Progress

You need to know where you are today and set up a system to review your progress. There are several great resources available via apps and web services today. But it’s usually the simple one that will help you the most.

For example, when it comes to nutrition goals, most people set big goals (which is good) with unrealistic time frames or caloric targets. This makes keeping your goals so challenging that the goal actually becomes a roadblock. The best nutrition goals are the ones that you can actually do consistently. Meaning, if you have the resolution to drink more water, start simply by drinking 500 ml in the morning and 500 ml in the evening. Then, as you feel thirsty throughout the day, you’re free to drink water as needed. To do this, you can buy a 1,000 ml (about 1 qt) water bottle and mark it halfway so that you can easily see your progress.

Whatever your goal, keep track of your progress to see what’s working and what isn’t. Think of it from a scientific perspective and that you need data to better understand what is effective at helping you achieve your goal and what is less effective.

Set A New Goal

Inevitably, if you’ve been following these success methods, you will need to set a new goal. Now, it could be that you’ve learned along the way that your initial goal needed adjusting. It could also be that you accomplished your goal and now you’re ready for a new challenge. Regardless, always remember that the goal isn’t the point… your transformation is.

It’s been said that the journey is often more important than the destination. But in fact, you can be confident in knowing that who you are becoming as a result of achieving your goals is the ultimate prize and best result you can accomplish.

Make Your Resolution Stick

See, when you become a healthier individual, then your family is better because of it. Because you become better, their lives are positively influenced.

Your health and wellness goals made you a better person…

…improving the quality of life for your whole family,

…which makes for a better community,

…and inspires others to take better care of themselves.

Realize that there are people right now in your life that need you to do this. They are waiting for you to take bold action to accomplish your goals and make your resolution stick.

At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.

 
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More veggies, less drama

Get Your Kids To Eat More Veggies

Parents, we’ve all been there. Despite our best efforts to encourage healthy eating, we still struggle to ensure our kids are getting enough vegetables in their diet. Most parents understand the importance of providing a wide variety of vegetables for their kids to enjoy; however, getting them to actually eat those vegetables is typically easier said than done.

According to the CDC, 90% of children (ages 2-18 years) aren’t eating enough vegetables. In fact, only 2% of teens are getting their recommended servings of daily veggies.

So, what’s a parent to do? When it feels like you’ve tried everything and the temptation to give up is stronger than the desire to stick it out, give these mealtime hacks a try instead:

Lead By Example

That’s right. As parents, we can’t just talk the talk, we have to walk the walk, too. We can offer our kids nutritious meals and encourage them to eat more veggies all we want, but if our behavior doesn’t match what we’re asking of them, they will notice.

In fact, a recent study out of the University of Michigan proved that it’s less about mealtime conversation and verbal encouragement and more about exhibiting the desired mealtime behavior. So, do the work, and lead by example.

Get Them Involved

Involving kids in meal-time decisions can help give them a sense of control. Meal planning and grocery shopping are great activities to invite your kids to participate in. This is also a great way to discover which vegetables they like best and even encourage trying something new. When it comes to meal prep, letting them pick how they want their vegetables prepared (raw or cooked) is also a simple way to get them involved.

Another great idea is planting a small vegetable garden. When kids are involved in where their vegetables come from, they’re more likely to be open to trying them.

Repeated Exposure

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests the getting kids to eat their veggies mostly comes down to repetition. This means that the more you expose your child to vegetables, the more likely they will eat them.

Be consistent. Offer at least a small serving of veggies at every meal. Even if they only take a few bites, that’s more than they would have eaten otherwise and they’ll be more likely to try again at their next meal.

It’s All About The Pairing

Let’s face it, if kids have the option of eating pizza or broccoli, they’re probably going to eat the pizza first. And once they fill up on their favorite foods, they won’t be hungry enough to eat their veggies.

Consider pairing the veggies with a less desirable main dish that the kids still enjoy but isn’t quite as popular. Get creative! veggies don’t just have to be a side to the main course. If pizza is the go-to dinner of choice, why not add some veggie toppings? Another great strategy is offering veggies before dinner is ready. When kids are hungry, they’ll eat more, even if that means eating foods they normally wouldn’t.

 

Ready to get your kids active and do something good for their health? Try a martial arts training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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Simple Tips To Encourage Healthy Eating

Simple Tips To Encourage Healthy Eating

November is Good Nutrition Month so we’re taking a look at some simple tips to encourage healthy eating. With the holidays quickly approaching it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to making smart nutrition choices.

Fortunately, establishing and practicing healthy eating habits now can pay off big in the long run and make navigating the food offerings at all those holiday parties less stressful.

There’s really no reason to wait until the new year to resolve to make your nutrition a top priority. As they say, the best time to start may have been yesterday, but the second best time to start is right now.

Here are our five simple tips to help you start eating healthier today:

1. It all starts at home

Create a home environment that makes it easier to make healthy food choices. That’s right, it all starts with cleaning out your pantry. To help you decide which foods can stay and which need to go, read the nutrition labels. Ingredients are listed in order of decreasing volume. So, if you see fat, sugar, or salt listed as one of the first ingredients, that’s not your healthiest option. Don’t get distracted by labels like “low-fat” or “light”. Despite being lower in fat, many times these foods are loaded with excess sugar or sodium. The good news is that anything you decided doesn’t belong in your pantry can easily be donated to a local food bank. Win-win.

Once your pantry (and fridge) are purged of the less than nutritious food choices, make sure you restock with plenty of healthy foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, and good fats.

2. Meal plan for success

Believe it or not, according to a recent consumer survey, 53% of dinners are planned within an hour of eating them. Without a plan, you’re far more likely to end up in a drive-thru late at night eating foods high in trans fat. Planning ahead makes it easier to be healthy, especially on busy days. Start by planning your shopping list for the week. Pre-considering the health value of each item you add to your list will help you avoid impulse buys when you’re shopping.

In addition to making healthier food choices, you’ll also save a considerable amount of money. On average, it costs five times more to order a common meal from a restaurant than it does to cook the same meal at home.

3. Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating is a practice that encourages people to develop a deeper connection with food and begin to create lifelong, healthy habits. Connecting with the foods we eat can help us more easily recognize feelings of hunger and fullness and even help us experience better digestion.

To help keep the focus on the food, it is recommended to keep screens off during meal time. Whether it’s a snack or a meal, it’s so much easier to unintentionally over-eat if you’re distracted by your device. This is because when we’re distracted it becomes harder to listen to our body’s signals about food and other needs.

4. Know the difference between a snack and a treat

It’s common that people who are making an effort to make healthy eating choices often get the hang of eating healthier meals but struggle when it comes to how to handle the time between meals. Experts agree that aiming to eat every three hours or so can help us stay on track with our nutrition goals. But what we eat during those intervals is crucial to our success.

Remember, a snack is a small portion of food you eat between meals to satisfy your hunger and fuel your body. Some great choices are carrots, apple slices, or a handful of almonds. Alternatively, a treat is a less nutritious option that does not fuel your body and brain. So, that trip to the vending machine for a soda and a candy bar…you guessed it…that’s more of a treat and less of a snack after all.

5. Stay hydrated

It’s fairly common for people to confuse thirst for hunger. This is because the same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst signals. So, how can you tell the difference? According to expert dietitians, signs of hunger can include feeling weak, irritable, or moody, or feeling your stomach rumble. Alternatively, signs of thirst may include dry-mouth, a mild headache, or feeling sluggish.

So, next time you think you’re hungry, test it out by drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 minutes. If you feel satisfied, you were probably just thirsty. If your stomach is still grumbling, try eating a nutritious snack.

As with most things in life, accountability is key. Get your family involved or recruit a friend to commit to healthier eating with you. Having a trusted ally can make all the difference when it comes to sticking to your healthy food choices. In no time at all, you’ll be eating better and feeling a whole lot better, too!

 

Ready to get active and do something good for your health? Try a martial arts training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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Staying Safe on Halloween

Stay Safe On Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner, which means it’s almost time for trick-or-treating fun! While Invictus helps people stay safe in everyday life, we’re also offering up some simple tips to stay safe on Halloween.

Believe it or not, only a third of parents talk to their kids annually about Halloween safety even though three quarters report having Halloween safety fears.

So, this year, as the kids get ready to dress up and head out for an evening of fun and candy, here are a few tips to chat with them about to ensure they stay safe on Halloween night.

staying safe on halloween

While children are typically the focus when discussing Halloween safety tips, several of these tips can easily apply to adults as well. While children are smaller and harder to see, pedestrian injuries and fatalities also occur for adults on Halloween. If you’re accompanying your kids, always be aware of your surroundings, especially when crossing the street. If you choose to drive during trick-or-treat hours, be very cautious in neighborhoods and keep an eye out for excited kids darting into the street unexpectedly.

Clearly, having a plan as well as a pre-Halloween chat with your kids before heading out to trick-or-treat will help everyone feel safe and confident. Remember: Be smart, be seen, be safe…and, or course, HAVE FUN!

 

Ready to feel safe and confident in everyday life? Try a FREE martial arts training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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5 tips to stop cyberbullying

5 Tips To Stop Cyberbullying

October is National Bully Prevention Month, so we’re taking a look at how we can prevent a persistent form of bullying: cyberbullying.

Recent statistics show that a staggering 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are social media, texting, online gaming communities, and email.

Effects of cyberbullying can include lower academic performance, poor concentration, increased stress and anxiety, depression, and even increased rate of suicide.

So, what can we do to stop cyberbullying? These 5 tips can help empower our youth to be part of the solution.

Stop Cyberbullying

 

While a majority of U.S. teens will experience some form of cyberbullying, only 1 in 6 parents are actually aware of the bullying. So, how can parents play an active role in preventing their kids from being cyberbullied? Here are a few great suggestions:

  • Ensure that they only friend and chat with people they know in real life
  • Verify that privacy settings are set on all of their accounts
  • Educate them on the importance of keeping their passwords private
  • Show them how to block, delete, or report cyberbullying
  • Limit their screen time. The less time they spend on their device, the less likely that they will be cyberbullied.
  • Get them involved in offline activities.

Ready to get your teens involved in a great activity in a supportive community? Try a FREE martial arts training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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dyslexia and martial arts

Managing Dyslexia Through Martial Arts

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and we’re taking a look at how a brain-boosting activity like martial arts can help offer support.

While dyslexia is most known for challenges related to reading ability, it’s actually much more involved. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. (Lyon, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 2003, p. 2).

In fact, current research shows that over 2.8 million school-aged children struggle with dyslexia. Fortunately, martial arts offers a unique way to help!

Here are just a few of the benefits individuals with dyslexia can experience through martial arts training:

Develop Motor Skills

Individuals with dyslexia often have difficulties with fine motor skills which can make activities like writing more challenging. Additionally, kids with dyslexia are often challenged with crossing the midline of their body. Martial arts drills designed to encourage crossing the midline help fire up neural pathways between brain hemispheres making it easier to recall previously learned material. Such drills include common warm-up exercises like bicycle crunches or crab toe-touches as well as pad drills that incorporate strikes from opposite hands and feet. Additionally, martial arts drills like sparring often require the use of both sides of the brain which helps develop new neural pathways and increases processing speed and problem solving.

These martial arts drills gradually work with and improve motor skills through repetitive combos and movements. Each new strike or skill might initially come as a challenge for a child with dyslexia; however, through patient instruction and encouragement, they can experience tremendous success in the martial arts. And this success will have a lasting impact on their cognitive skill development as well.

Increase Focus

Kids with dyslexia often find it challenging to concentrate. Fortunately martial arts is great for practicing and encouraging self-control and focus. In fact, focus-oriented drills that require a student to hit a specific target with a specific strike can help focus their mind and body simultaneously.

Ultimately, developing self-discipline is crucial of kids with dyslexia. Working through learning challenges can be exhausting and discouraging. Strong character traits cultivated by martial arts training like discipline, focus, and perseverance, can make all the difference when academic challenges arise. Kids who train in the martial arts are well-equipped to tackle challenges head-on rather than giving in to distraction or giving up entirely.

Practice Sequencing

Another common challenge for individuals with dyslexia is sequencing. Sequencing refers to an individuals ability to perceive items in a specific order as wells as remember that sequence. Tasks like learning the days of the week, months of the year, a phone number, the letters of the alphabet, and even counting, can be significantly challenging. Being able to sequence effectively is of great importance.

Martial arts helps develop sequencing skills through the instruction, memorization, and practice of combos and long forms.  Remembering long series of movements that combine opposite hand-leg techniques help to develop critical brain skills required for being able to sequence effectively.

Boost Confidence

Typically, kids with dyslexia can struggle with self-confidence. Martial arts training boosts confidence and helps normalize their experience. While kids with dyslexia can struggle with academic performance, they often excel in extracurricular activities. Participating in martial arts training helps equal the playing field. They may experience being “slower” than other kids in their class when it comes to reading, writing, or even math, but in martial arts, everyone learns at the same pace by belt rank. Each new belt rank offers an opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned in an environment where they feel supported and celebrated. They’ll feel more confident and begin to see themselves as more than just dyslexic…they’ll see themselves as a strong and confident martial artist.

 

Ready to get your kid training in mixed martial arts? Try a FREE training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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Best Hispanic Mixed Martial Artists

Top 5 Hispanic Mixed Martial Artists

Since the 1980s, Mexico has boasted it’s fair share of impressive boxers. Names like Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez dominated throughout the 80s and 90s and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez continues to dominate even today. But up until the last 5-10 years, hispanic fighters have been under-represented in the sport of MMA. Fortunately, the UFC now has a growing number of fighters with Mexican roots who display the same heart, desire, and physicality we’ve come to expect from Mexican boxers.

MMA fighter Efrain Escudero recently said, “For Mexicans, not only in boxing but also in MMA, we are warriors. We like to fight. We like to be involved in tough wars inside a ring or Octagon.”

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re taking a look at five Hispanic fighters who have faced insurmountable odds to become some of the best mixed martial artists in the world.

Here’s our list of the top 5 Hispanic mixed martial artists of all time:

Tito Ortiz

Ortiz grew up in Huntington Beach, California with his Mexican father, Samuel and French mother Joyce along with three older brothers. He had a difficult childhood due to his involvement in street gangs, exposure to drugs, and frequent trips to juvenile halls. In high school, he began wrestling and quickly found his passion for the sport winning a CIF championship and finishing fourth in the state tournament his senior year. He went on to attend Golden West College where he became a California Junior College State Champion and All-American for two consecutive years.

Ortiz‘s mixed martial arts debut was at UFC 13 in 1997. He has a record of 21 wins and 12 losses. He went on to become the UFC light heavyweight champion. In July of 2021, Ortiz was inducted into the UFC hall of fame.

Dominick Cruz

Cruz grew up in Tucson, Arizona with his mother, grandmother, and brother. He began wrestling in middle school and went on to compete for Flowing Wells High School. He was on track to secure a wrestling scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado; however, due to an injury he sustained his senior year, he lost the opportunity. Before becoming a professional fighter, Cruz worked at Lowe’s while he attended community college where he studied to become a firefighter.

Cruz began his professional mixed martial arts career in 2005 at the age of 20.  He quickly became known for his quick footwork, head movement, and use of feints and angular strikes. In December of 2010, he won the inaugural Bantamweight Championship. After successfully defending the belt twice in 2011, he was sidelined in 2012 due to an injury and subsequently stripped of the title in 2014. In early 2016, he regained the Bantamweight Championship in what many media outlets called the greatest comeback story in MMA history. Cruz has a record of 21 wins and 3 losses. Besides his amateur wrestling experience, he is also a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. While Cruz still actively fights, he is now also a regular commentator for UFC.

Brandon Moreno

Moreno was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico where his family owned a piñata business. He started training in mixed martial arts at the age of 12. While he had early ambitions of attending law school, he decided to focus solely on his mixed martial arts career.

Moreno made his professional MMA debut in Mexico in early 2011 at the age of 17. In 2014 he joined the World Fighting Federation promotion where he won the Flyweight Championship before being cast on the 25th season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2016. Moreno has a record of 19 wins and 5 loses and is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In June of 2021, Moreno became the first  Mexican-born UFC Champion in history. He is expected to defend the Flyweight Championship at UFC 269 in December of 2021.

Cain Velasquez

Velasquez was born in Salinas, California but raised in Yuma, Arizona.  His father, Efrain, was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who gained his citizenship when he married Velasquez’ mother, Isabel.  Velasquez attended Kofa High School where he served as the captain of both his wrestling and football teams. He had a very successful wrestling career winning the 5A Arizona Wrestling Championship twice. After high school, he attended Iowa Central Community College for one year where he won the NJCAA National Championship in the heavyweight division. He transferred to Arizona State University where he placed 5th in the country in 2005 and 4th in 2006. He graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Velasquez made his UFC debut in 2008. He became known for his cardiovascular endurance and aggressive fighting style. In 2013, he was ranked number 1 for the most strikes landed per minute in the UFC. He has a record of 14 wins and 3 losses and is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Velasquez is also a former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion.

Jessica Aguilar

Aguilar was born in Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico. Her family immigrated to the US and settled in the Houston, Texas area. After losing her father and older brother at a young age, she went on to graduate high school and attend San Jacinto College before taking a semester off to pursue a career in acting in Hollywood. Success did not come easy, so she made the decision to move to Oregon where she worked as a corrections officer and gained extensive experience in self-defense. At the age of 24, she moved to Miami where she first began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Aguilar made her professional debut as a mixed martial arts fighter in 2006. She went on to fight for Bellator Fighting Championships from 2010-2013. She became the first female fighter to sign with the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) promotion in 2013 and in 2014 became the first WSOF Women’s Strawweight Champion. Aguilar went on to successfully fight in the UFC from 2015-2019.

Currently, Aguilar uses her martial arts expertise to teach self-defense classes. She says, “Being able to share the importance of self-defense with men and women makes everyone involved feel so empowered and confident. I love that I can share my skills to help people protect themselves.”

Aguilar has had a decorated career in mixed martial arts. Her accomplishments include: FILA Grappling World Championship Women’s Senior No-Gi Gold Medalist (2009-2010), 2010 female fan favorite of the year, 2011 female flyweight of the year, 2012 Florida MMA Female Fighter of the year.

Aguilar was part of the first female team at American Top Team from 2006-2020. She has a record of 20 wins and 9 loses and is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

 

Ready to start training in mixed martial arts? Try a FREE training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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All rights reserved. Used with permission. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Fight Fatigue With Martial Arts

Fight Fatigue With Martial Arts

If you’re currently hitting the snooze button multiple times every morning, walking around like a zombie during the day, reaching for the nearest energy drink to get you through the afternoon, and unable to unwind and get good quality sleep at night, you’re not alone. Fatigue is a common complaint for many adults. General fatigue is caused by several issues including: poor sleep, poorly managed stress, poor diet, poor life/work balance, and yes…poor fitness habits.

It may sound counterintuitive, but experts agree that expending energy by engaging in regular exercise actually pays off with increased energy over time. This is because regular exercise raises blood oxygen levels and increases endorphins, which helps us feel more energized.

So, which are the most effective exercises at increasing oxygen in the blood and boosting energy? It turns out, aerobic training, like mixed martial arts, is best!

Here are three ways to fight fatigue with martial arts:

Focus On Cardio

Training in mixed martial arts is fantastic for  cardiovascular strength building and endurance. Martial arts drills that incorporate bag or pad drills are great for developing enhanced aerobic and anaerobic respiration.  Additionally, mixed martial arts is great for increasing stamina and endurance. The best martial arts training sessions start with a warm-up designed to get your heart pumping and your muscles conditioned. Additionally, sparring drills focus on developing your cardiovascular endurance. Consistent training improves heart health which helps the body regulate oxygen levels more efficiently, resulting in better energy management.

Full Body Workout

One of the greatest benefits of mixed martial arts training is that it trains the body as a whole. Whether you’re working on the fluidity of your practice combos on a pads or refining the technical aspects of your kicks  on a heavy bag, mixed martial arts training will have you experiencing the benefits of a full body workout. The more you focus on conditioning your body as a whole, the more you’ll realize the benefits when it comes to feeling more energized.

Get Better Sleep

While exercise helps boost your energy, it can also help you wind down. In fact, a recent study showed that exercise plays an important role in improving the quality of your sleep. Experts suggest that people who get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week sleep significantly better at night and also feel more alert during the day. Mixed martial arts training requires both physical exertion and mental focus which helps ready the body for a better night’s sleep. So, while you’re putting in the time on the mat, you can be confident that you’ll be falling asleep faster as well as sleeping through the night more consistently.

So, instead of pouring another cup of coffee when you hit that afternoon slump, hit the mats for a quick 30 minute training session! In the long run, you’ll be happy you did.

 

Ready to feel more energized? Try a FREE training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

Preschool ages 3-5 (CLICK HERE)

Kids ages 6-12 (CLICK HERE)

Adults ages 13+ (CLICK HERE)

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All rights reserved. Used with permission. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Tips For Sparring Success

5 Tips For Sparring Success

Over the last decade, we’ve helped hundreds of martial arts students achieve sparring success. There’s no shortage of helpful advice we can offer when it comes to technical tips:

  • Keep your guard up
  • Maintain a stable stance
  • Focus your eyes on your partner
  • Retract your punches and kicks
  • Keep moving

But if you’re new to martial arts training, and especially just starting to spar, these technical tips can sometimes fall short of being helpful. So, if you’re frustrated with your most recent sparring experience or you’re just ready to take your skill development to the next level…keep reading.

First, it’s important to acknowledge that sparring is more than just a physical exercise. There’s a mental component to sparring that must be equally developed. Clearly, the best tips for sparring success encompass both the physical and mental.

Keep in mind that sparring is simply an opportunity to try out your martial arts skill development on a resisting partner and, with the right mindset, it’s quite fun!

Here are our five tips for sparring success:

 

Have A Plan

Sparring is just as much a tactical exercise as it is a physical one. Sparring requires you to constantly be thinking about your next move. While your plan will need to adapt to your sparring partner, it’s always advisable to start any sparring match with a general plan. Knowing your personal strengths and limitations is a huge benefit. If you’re taller than your sparring partner, you can use your legs to keep them out of range. If you’re smaller than your sparring partner, you’ll want to get in close to take away their optimal range.

Sparring with different partners is also a huge learning opportunity. Want to level up quick? Spar with people who can out-pace, out-punch, and out-plan you. Study what they do and ask them for help. Some of the most effective strategies we’ve learned have been from sparring partners who were better than us.

Stay Calm

It’s ok to feel nervous before sparring. Unless you’ve been training for a while, you’re probably not use to the idea of someone punching and kicking at you.  It’s important to accept that in a sparring situation you’re going to get hit (after all, even the professionals do!). The key is to control where you get hit and how you respond after. Practicing offense and defense drills that help you experience what it feels like to absorb a punch or kick will build your confidence in this area. As you build trust with your sparring partners, you’ll realize it gets easier to remain calm, even with punches and kicks being thrown at you.

Most importantly, remember to breathe. It’s common for people to inadvertently hold their breath as they spar. Practice exhaling when you strike so that breathing becomes routine, even when your focus is on blocking, evading, and countering. Ultimately, breathing and remaining calm will help you conserve energy and strike with better precision.

Stick To The Basics

When your adrenalized, complex movements are more challenging to pull off successfully. When you first start sparring, use the most basic techniques you know: jab, cross, hook, and round kick. Sticking to the basics will increase your skill and also keep you mentally focused. In fact, simple and direct works best 80% of the time. Save the more complex moves for the remaining 20% of the time.

While it might be more comfortable to throw one strike at a time, using combinations will increase your chances of connecting with a viable target. Counters are also key. It’s easy to find yourself in a position where your partner is doing all the striking and you’re doing all the defending. Look for opportunities to counter after defending every strike your partner throws.

Check Your Ego

Every sparring match begins with a respectful bow as a reminder that both partners are prepared to help and not harm the other. Sparring is not about beating up your partner. Ultimately, ego clouds judgment and can cause you to rush and even loose control of your power. If your primary focus is striking with power, your technique will suffer and you will miss the opportunity for growth and advancement in your skill development.

When it comes to having the best sparring experience, adopt a givers mindset. Sparring is not a competition, it’s a partnership. When both sparring partner focus on helping the other improve, magic happens. Mutual challenge and respect results in mutual development and benefit.

Focus On Learning, Not Winning

Sparring is not about winning or loosing. Some days, you won’t be able to miss, while other days, you won’t be able to hit a single target. Sparring is all about learning. Every time you spar, try to improve from the last time.

As we mentioned before, sparring is just as much mental as it is physical. While you’re sparring, rather than focusing on winning, focus on your mental state:

  • Stay calm and remember to breath
  • Be aware of your position and guard
  • Concentrate on your opponent or partner
  • Practice those problem-solving skills
  • Stay in control of your emotions

Most importantly, have fun! Remember, it can take years to get really good at sparring. The best martial artists are the ones who show up, consistently put in the work, and enjoy the experience.

 

Ready to up your sparring game? Try a FREE training session at Invictus!  Which class below are you most curious about?

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