Local gym trading treadmills for medieval sword fighting

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - While most people have a hard time just getting to the gym, others are burning calories in a really unique way.

Trade the treadmills and elliptical machines  for swinging swords and medieval wrestling. One gym on the North Side is doing just that with big results. Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts is taking old fighting tactics and putting them to a brand new use.

“If you come in here for sword fit, you pick up a medieval sword and you sweat for 45 minutes straight,” said Jesse Kulla, swordsmanship and fitness instructor at Forteza. “It’s a 400-500 calorie an hour workout for most men and a 300-450 calorie workout for most ladies. They get in shape doing it. You get strong, you get more nimble and it’s a lot of fun."

Finding time for the gym is never easy. Finding time to brush up on your medieval fighting skills is even harder.

But at Forteza, a beautiful workout studio on Chicago’s North Side, the clashing of swords stands as a new found way to burn some calories and is bringing a whole new meaning to “knight” classes.

“The fitness world is rapidly changing, there’s always a new fad. Let’s try this, we can make it a good workout. I think it’ll be a lot of fun. Let’s see if we can get people to enjoy it,” Kulla said.

Paired with the Chicago Swordplay Guild, the North Side studio uses the strength, agility and precision required for sword play and channels that into a rigorous workout unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

“Those workouts are mental as much as physical. You’re learning the tactical application of how to fight with a sword,” said Kulla. “And then we have our fitness program and there you’re swinging a sword for 45 minutes. You’re doing a lot of body weight workouts, a lot of pushups, strong balance elements, a lot of one legged jumping, things like that to develop your power and mobility alongside your swordsmanship skills.”

And while participation over the years has been continuously growing, Kulla doesn’t deny the power of pop culture.

“When Game of Thrones is on the air and when the Lord of the Rings movies came out during their release dates, we definitely saw an increase in inquiries and interest. It doesn’t seem to help with retention but definitely gets a lot of attention and we always get the spotlight,” Kulla said.

Who needs the treadmill when you can clash swords with your fellow man?

Forteza Fitness may look like fun and games, but the strength required to keep up will convince you otherwise.

So pick up a sword. It’s time to work.

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