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Katy England Katy England
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Fitting In

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Katy is simultaneously removing the instructor's hold on her neck and striking him in the face. And getting exercise Katy is simultaneously removing the instructor's hold on her neck and striking him in the face. And getting exercise (photo courtsey Krav Maga Maine)

Exercises in exercise

Fitness can be a challenge for some people, finding the time and the right kind of workout can be especially daunting. There's hundreds of methods out there, from classes at gyms, dojos and health centers to less structured activities including hiking, boating, cross country skiing and more.

So each month, I'm going to pick a healthy activity, give it a go and then tell you all about it. Welcome to Fitting In.

This month: Krav Maga Maine

For those of you unfamiliar with Krav Maga, it is a close-combat self-defense system taught by the Israeli military. The system focuses on simultaneous defense and attacks based on your body's instinctual defense mechanisms. These moves are designed to be brutally effective but also simple to learn. As you might guess, this system isn't for everybody. But it is a workout, and a fun one at that.

'[Krav Maga] uses what's been proven by the Israeli military to work,' said Emery. 'The main focus is on aggression you hit [the offender] until they are no longer a threat. You defend and simultaneously strike.'

I attended an hour and a half class on a Saturday morning. There were about a half dozen other students/instructors in the mix already practicing strikes. Owner and instructor Keith Emery paired me up with another student and showed me the basic strikes, the different ways to throw them and the pros and cons of each way. For instance, you can punch with your first two knuckles, which gives you more reach on your opponent, but also carries the potential of injury (knuckles + bones = ow for everyone). A palm strike requires you to be closer (opening you up to other attacks), but also allows you to potentially gouge an eye (remember when I said this isn't for everybody?).

I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous about going to an hour and a half class. You have to understand, I haven't been terribly physical since the kids were born, and the idea of dropping dead in front of witnesses is embarrassing. But that didn't happen. 

The strikes are pretty basic, but the key is twisting with your whole body to get a decent amount of force with a minimal amount of movement. We did basic hand strikes, elbows and kicks each with that little twist. The repeat is to help build muscle memory so when you're in a crisis your muscles will remember what to do. It's simple, but that doesn't mean you won't feel it the next day.

The time flew by. I was shocked when we were wrapping up that time had passed so quickly. I was tired, but pleasantly so. The next day I could feel the results of the work. All through my ribcage and abs, my muscles reminded me how I twisted into those punches and kicks.

Emery offers one free class so people can try out the school to see if it's a fit.

Classes are offered on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday , Friday and Saturday. You can take one class per week for $75 per month, or unlimited classes for $100 a month. You can check them out at KravMagaMaine.com or find them on Facebook.

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