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Martial arts-style workouts to try: Muay Thai, Krav Maga and Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Boxing gyms have made a Rocky Balboa-like comeback over the last few years with fighting-inspired workouts gaining popularity with everyone from supermodels to millennials to moms. 

But the calorie-torching combination of strength-training and cardio — which also is a satisfying way to get out pent-up stress — has long been a way for staying fit across various martial arts practices. 

Here are three places to get in a full-body, high-intensity workout in NYC.

Master your ‘eight limbs’ at Kings Thai Boxing

Kings Thai Boxing
Photo Credit: Kings Thai Boxing

If traditional boxing has been dubbed the sweet science, muay Thai is “the art of the eight limbs” for its combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. Its growing popularity around the world has even earned it provisional recognition as an Olympic sport. 

“Muay Thai fighters are known for their incredible level of fitness,” says Aaron Fisher, head instructor at Kings Thai Boxing, who has been fighting and training for 14 years in both Thailand and the United States and was a finalist in the season 8 tryouts for the TV series “The Ultimate Fighter.” “It’s a full-body workout that simply cannot be duplicated anywhere else.” 

A one-hour group class typically includes 45 to 50 minutes of partner drills. 

Info: First class FREE, $179/month unlimited classes (members only); 35 W. 36th St., Manhattan, 

Amp up your confidence at Krav Maga Academy

Krav Maga Academy
Photo Credit: Krav Maga Academy

Originally developed for the Israel Defense Forces, Krav Maga combines techniques from boxing, judo, karate and other martial arts. The results include increased muscle tone, cardiovascular capacity, improved stamina and weight loss. For Krav Maga Academy founder Matan Gavish, gaining courage and confidence are also huge draws. 

“We hit all the major muscle groups in every class and tons of cardio,” he says. “Punching and kicking are some of the best ways to get moving — and we pay really close attention to proper form.” 

Gavish is currently expanding Krav Maga Academy to a two-floor facility at the same address, as well as rebranding the name to Fit Hit within the next two months to help reach even more people.

The reason attendance has been steadily growing is simple: “You get a similar, or better, workout as other fitness classes, along with the benefit of learning something important,” he says. 

Info: $20/first two classes, $42/class, $185/month unlimited classes; 122 W. 27th St., Manhattan, 

Work out mentally and physically at Gregor Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Gregor Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Credit: Chad Carlson / @brawlsymedia
Photo Credit: Chad Carlson / @brawlsymedia

A spinoff of the classic Japanese martial art, Brazilian jiu-jitsu — or BJJ — is synonymous with the late Brazilian brothers Carlos and Helio Gracie. Gregor Gracie, who hails from the lineage, recently opened a studio in Brooklyn with fellow “professors” Rafael Costa and Fabio Coelho.

The David-and-Goliath-style technique uses an opponent’s weight against them, allowing even small opponents to defeat large ones. 

Built on fostering a community, as well as a mind-body connection, BJJ keeps your mind agile and your body in top condition through a sweaty workout that pushes your strength and flexibility. 

“It’s just as mentally challenging as a game of chess but your body needs to move two steps ahead of your opponent’s next move,” Gracie says. 

Info: First class FREE, $150-$250/month for unlimited classes; Bridge Park Drive, Suite H3, Brooklyn Heights,


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