Reporting John Lauritsen
OAKDALE, Minn. (WCCO) – People try different things to get in shape, but have you ever thought about Mixed Martial Arts? It combines boxing, wrestling, Jiu Jitsu and other sports, and according to a Twin Cities man you don’t have to be a fighter to do it.
Tom Schmitz’s gym in Oakdale is kind of like a fight club, except you don’t have to be a fighter to be a member.
“A lot of time I hear people go, ‘I don’t want to fight.’ Well, the majority of the students through here will never fight. Less than 10 percent of my students right now are competing,” said Schmitz, founder of Spartan Martial Arts.
Schmitz began doing mixed martial arts at the age of 18. He became an expert in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Thai Boxing and kickboxing. In May, he opened his own gym. There are competitive fighters at Spartan, but there are also people you see every day.
“I have a half dozen engineers that come here, I have two doctors, three guys that just took their bar exam. So they were going to law school and training with me the whole time,” said Schmitz.
Jake Anderson is one of those guys.
“I used to have trouble going up the stairs and it was miserable,” said Anderson.
Anderson just took his bar exam, but perhaps what’s more impressive is that he used to weigh 285 pounds. He’s never fought competitively, but he said this combination of cardio and strength-training has turned him into a whole, new person.
“I came in here and Jiu Jitsu is pretty much my only exercise. And I’ve lost 60 to 65 pounds doing just this. Once you get over that initial fear of trying something new, it’s a lot of fun,” said Anderson.
But while he’s lost plenty of weight, Anderson said he’s gained plenty of knowledge — and he’s not alone.
A term often thrown around at Spartan Martial Arts is “kinetic chess.” It means exercising your mind just as much as you exercise your body.
“Tom makes us feel very relaxed, very comfortable. You don’t have to be in shape to get in shape. That’s the whole point of this,” said Mickey Gutzmann.
Gutzmann has learned plenty of moves though she’s never been in a fight. She began coming to Schmitz’s gym when she was told she may be developing osteoporosis, and jarring exercises would help.
She calls it dancing with her fists and she believes it has helped her body as well as her self-confidence.
“I wouldn’t go pick a fight and I think the best defense, still, is run the other way if you can. But it does give you some tools if you need them? Yeah, it does,” said Gutzmann.
Members drive from as far away as Wisconsin and Rochester just to be at Spartan. Schmitz said he’s averaging three new members a week. But he’s not satisfied unless he sees results.
“Your first month you come in, you’re not really going to know anything. The second month, you start seeing some stuff. The third month, you start seeing some results and that’s when people really start to grow,” said Schmitz.
Schmitz said he is teaching 20 classes a week right now. Jiu Jiutsu classes are $119 a month for one year for an unlimited amount of classes a week. For kickboxing classes, the cost is $99 a month for one year for up to three classes a week.