Fascinated Friday: Light Saber Team-Where Fandom Meets Fitness
As a kid, I grew up on Star Wars. It was the first movie that I ever saw, and I have loved it with a passion ever since. For anyone who grew up like me, in the shadow of Star Wars, there are few things more iconic in the world than a lightsaber. That brilliant clash of blue on red from the movies is something that sticks with you. With the release of The Force Awakens this has intensified.
When Joe and I were at our table at Silicon Valley Comic Con, a group came up to check out the books, all wearing matching black shirts. This was the San Jose chapter of Light Saber Team, and they were doing demos throughout the day. While I didn’t get to see the demos, I was immediately taken with their friendly manner, and the philosophy of the group. When the con was over, I hit them up on facebook and got invited to a workout.
The motto of Light Saber Team is “Where Fandom Meets Fitness,” and it was this that definitely interested me. It might surprise you to learn that the work of a writer and educator is not filled with active parkour and non-stop aerobic workouts. Instead, it involves a lot of what people in the fitness community refer to as “sitting” and “standing.” That, combined with an overly intimate familiarity with the entire Arby’s menu has definitely put me in a place where I am looking for more exercise. So, in the hopes that light sabers would be more fun that the elliptical, I set off for my first meeting with the local chapter of Light Saber Team.
I had talked with both Amanda and John, the two co-founders of my local chapter on facebook, and they had been incredibly welcoming. When I showed up at the park, I was warmly greeted by both of them, and introduced to JM, who actually is the founder of all of Light Saber Team. As we began our warm-up walks around the park, I had a chance to talk to JM.
JM explained that he started Light Saber Team down in Southern California. He told me that the heart of Light Saber Team is tricking nerds like himself (and me!) into working out, by doing something fun and connected to something we love. I couldn’t agree more. He also explained that the focus of the group is on exercise and choreography. This is not a combat group. While there are contact dueling groups out there, that is not what this group was about. This really appealed to me. We talked easily for our laps around the park. JM is a kind and gentle man, and truly believes in what Light Saber Team can offer people. And in talking with him, he made me believe as well.
After our warm-up laps, JM and Amanda went to work with a couple of ladies who had been to a few previous sessions, and John began to work with me. They put a lightsaber staff in my hand, a beautiful work of art from Advanced Light Weaponry that JM had me use, with vibrant blue blades on each end. Then John instructed me on correct form. He took me through a series of repetitive step and strike patterns in different sequences. These sequences form the core of the workout. While challenging to get perfect, the sequences were not terribly hard as exercise.
Or so I thought.
At the end of the night, when John was suitably happy with my development, I joined him, JM, and Amanda, for a full series of the sequences. This is what would constitute a standard workout. By the end of it, my arms were aching and I could feel it in my legs. My heart rate was up and I had broken a sweat. Not a bad workout after all! But more importantly, the time had flown. I had enjoyed myself far more than I had on any treadmill or eliptical, that’s for sure. I had gotten to swing an amazing lightsaber, met new friends, and did something healthy.
I immediately decided I wanted more.
I told the group I was interested in coming back for more sessions, and that I had a background in stage combat. They welcomed me to further workouts. Now, I am currently in the middle of my initiation to the team, and after spending some time holding such an incredible piece of craftsmanship in my hands, I have commissioned a lightsaber to be made for me from Advanced Light Weaponry.
And I am working out more.
Not just at my weekly sessions with Light Saber Team, but every day. My workouts with the team inspired me. And if that doesn’t prove these folks are amazing, I don’t know what does.
So check out Light Saber Team. They have chapters throughout the state and are incredibly friendly people. You can find more info here at their facebook page and if you are interested in the incredibly beautiful work of Bob Iannaccone from Advanced Light Weaponry, check out some of these images.
Until next time, keep finding things you love. Particularly if they are going to encourage you to get healthier. I know I am.