Forza: Exercise class using swords comes to South Y

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 31, 2009

By Susan Shinn
CHINA GROVE ó If you like some of the Y’s more unusual group exercise classes, then Forza may be for you.
It’s a 45-minute, intense, upper-body workout using a 2-pound wooden sword.
I know what you’re thinking.
Holding a 2-pound piece of equipment is not that big of a deal.
Try the class and then see what you think.
Forza meets at 9:15 a.m. on Mondays at the South Rowan YMCA. It kicked off in mid-June.
“It’s not like fencing,” explains Jennifer Lambert, class instructor. “There’s no combat.”
Instead, Jennifer uses visualization to lead Y members through the class.
Although there are some squats and some steps from front to back and side to side, it’s mostly an upper body workout, Jennifer says.
You begin by holding your sword in the en garde position. First, the hands are right over left, then you switch halfway through class.
If you’re right-handed, leading with the left hand and left foot seems much more awkward the second time through the routine.
Jennifer makes it all seem so smooth.
You can take the class with or without shoes.
“That’s a good thing,” she says. “I hate shoes.”
Forza is not an aerobics class.
She warns that you may have some soreness in your shoulders an upper back ó but that improves with practice.
“You’re not used to holding something so tightly,” she says.
Jennifer bought a box of 10 swords from, and they’re available for purchase at $10.
Jennifer suggests taking the class a couple of times before deciding whether or not you want to buy a sword.
Jennifer came up with the class by googling “unique fitness workouts.”
“I get bored so easily with my classes,” she says. “I get bored with the same thing over and over.”
So far, a handful of people have shown up on Monday mornings. And, with so many folks on summer vacation, it’s typically been different people every week, Jennifer notes.
Jennifer uses “trance music” or European techno-pop for the class.
Forza uses four main sword moves ó half cut, where the sword finishes diagonally to the floor, held in front of the body; full cut, where the sword finishes parallel to the floor; diagonal cut and a candling or blocking move.
(Be sure not to stand too close to your other workout buddies.)
Then Jennifer uses these moves in repetition and combination.
It’s easy to follow and boy, do those arms get a workout.
“I tried it one time and I enjoyed it,” says Pat Cline, who at 67 says he’s trying to tone up her “flabby arms.”
Alana Morton is a young mom of five who took the class for the first time recently.
“I like to try different stuff,” says Alana, who also likes Zumba classes. “I’m not really into the normal stuff, and doing weights gets old every day.”
Fellow instructor Jeri Corley is also a Forza fan.
“I like it,” says Jeri, who teaches kettlebell classes. “It’s a nice change.”
Jennifer says that people who have arthritis or other problems with their hands would probably want to steer clear of Forza.
“But at least try it one time,” Jeri says. “You never know.”
(I had some soreness in my left hand the next day. I think I may have been gripping the sword a little too tightly. That was about it.)
Jennifer, a second-grade teacher at China Grove Elementary School, will switch the class to 6:30 p.m. Mondays once school starts.
She says the class might evolve into a one-hour session as more people take it and learn the moves and routines.

For more information about Forza, call the South Rowan YMCA at 704-857-7011.