In January I started my yoga challenge because I couldn’t fit a steady gym routine into my schedule. However, it’s a new month, I’m in a new place, and I’m seizing the opportunity to get back into martial arts training.
In December, when I was staying out in The Hills District of Sydney, I talked about doing some free trial sessions at various MMA gyms in Castle Hill. Now that I’m in Newtown, I’m ready to check out my training prospects here.
For starters, I mapped out gyms within a two-to-three kilometer radius that I could walk or jog to in a half hour or less. I found a couple of MMA gyms in Marrickville, Sydenham, and St. Peters.
One was a Gracie Barra Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym but having already done a trial class at a Gracie Barra in Castle Hill, I more or less already knew I was looking for a more complete MMA experience.
Another prospect within range was Power Core MMA Gym but when I checked their timetable I got the idea that they were more focused on fitness than fighting.
Moreover, they didn’t have any morning or midday classes and since I’m often working in the evening that would be fairly essential for me to keep a solid training schedule. They did invite me to come in for a free trial class but I never found (or made) a way to work that into my schedule.
Next and nearest was Zeus International Martial Arts Academy. Although–like Power Core–they also do not offer classes before 5 or 6 PM, it was close and I was interested in trying their Muay Thai.
My free trial session at Zeus was enjoyable and both the instructor, Costa Prasoulas, and the training assistant who was my sparring partner gave me lots of helpful tips to adjust and refine my fight game.
Coach Costa is a fantastically warm and welcoming fellow and I loved the friendly vibe at this gym.
Though the gym is very small, they do a lot with the space they have.
Located at the Marrickville District Lawn Tennis Club, Zeus Academy offer Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. When you come in for a trial session, you can immediately sense the spirit of family built around both styles.
However, I knew it would be difficult to commit to training here because of my schedule so, as much as I would have loved to keep training here, my search continued.
This week I took a trial class at Darkside MMA in Sydenham. Even though this is the farthest of the gyms in the area, I was immediately drawn in by their timetable.
With daily classes at 12, 5, 6, and 7 PM I knew I would be able to fit at least one, if not more, sessions a day in with my current online teaching schedule.
Here’s the dealmaker: each class is something different, from boxing and Muay Thai to grappling and jiu-jitsu, as well as MMA classes to put them all together. Before even showing up at the gym I had a feeling it would be exactly what I was looking for.
After contacting the gym online and being told I could walk in for my free trial class at any time, I received a warm welcome from the instructor and was even taught their secret handshake at the end of the session.
The MMA training was great. Right off the bat, we jumped into sparring drills with mouth guard and shin pads. The class ended with three 5-minute rounds of ground-and-pound cage work and my total exhaustion by the end told me this is exactly where I want to be training.
A few days later I came in to enroll for a month and join the midday boxing class. Again, we spent most of the lesson doing sparring drills and, in addition to learning some great sequences, I got some practice keeping my eyes open and focused while gloves came at them.
Before week’s end I joined two more classes and in all four I’ve taken so far I’ve had to focus on footwork and defense–both weaknesses of mine.
In the last MMA class, there were only two of us training and my partner and I got into a nice groove with an initially tricky southpaw setup that could open a fight with some stellar striking and takedown opportunities.
It’s a five-kilometer walk, jog, or run to the gym and back and on Thursday it was a trip I made twice–for noon boxing and evening MMA. I was thoroughly wiped out by the end but anticipant of achieving a new level of fighter fitness by the end of my first month.
Honestly, I’d been too caught up and thoroughly exhausted by the training here that I hadn’t gotten around to taking any pictures until just the other day. I’m going to consider that a good thing, but now that I’ve enrolled and been to a few classes I finally got around to snapping some.
Pictures, of course. Snapping pictures.
Here’s a look at the gym and facilities.
I’ll let you know what I’ve learned at the end of my first month here.