POULSBO — When Kitsap Martial Arts and Family Fitness owner Mark Barabasz walks into an average gym, it bums him out.
Runners huffing, machines bleeping and the hurried pace of fitness fanatics wanting to complete their day’s activity quota isn’t the way he thinks it should be.
“Nobody’s smiling, nobody’s having any fun,” he said.
So Barabasz, a student of Hapkido International Grandmaster David Wheaton, tossed the elliptical machines and created his own formula for fitness that includes not just the basic work out elements, but the most essential component to making healthy activity a lifestyle: fun.
“It’s an environment that I wanted to create that makes fitness fun,” he said of his martial arts workout studio where entire families can learn movements based on Hapkido that keep them in kicking shape. “You can get in shape and stay in shape without a bunch of machines.”
Now two years in business, Barabasz said the programs he offers, which teach movements that can be repeated at home, are tuned to create good cardiovascular activity combined with strength training that achieves a lean, oxygenated — not bulky — look. Classes include kickboxing, martial arts and band strength training, as well as a kids’ program and K.U.T., a David Wheaton-based Kickboxers Ultimate Training class that combines all three aspects of what Barabasz teaches into a nine-week body transforming program.
“This thing is awesome,” he said of K.U.T. “It’s a nine-week fitness program that is designed to get you into incredible shape no matter where you are.”
Barabasz said for 45 minutes a day, six days a week, participants are able to focus on themselves and give themselves the gift of getting in shape. The class is so good, even Barabasz is taking it.
“We’ve had people lose up to 40 pounds in nine weeks,” he said. “You get more energy. It affects every aspect of your life.”
Barabasz said his kids’ classes are also excellent, offering not just an education in martial arts, but in becoming a good citizen.
“We’re not there to make a very hard-nosed martial artist,” he said. “We teach a thinking martial arts… We really want a child to feel confident, safe, have high self-esteem and be compassionate towards others. All these things make really great people.”
Kids can begin classes at the age of three, and can continue to the age of 12, after which they can then join adult programs. Barabasz said he’s received letters and e-mails from teachers and parents thanking Kitsap Martial Arts for its influence on their kids in turning behavioral problems around. For adults, too, classes have a lasting effect.
“I want people to know that this is a fun family environment,” he said. “It’s a well-rounded, well-structured place for every person in the family.”
For more information on Kitsap Martial Arts Classes, including the K.U.T. program, visit www.kitsapmartialarts.com.