GameChanger

Want to increase the explosiveness in your leg kicks? Try gymnastics.

Need to hone the speed and accuracy of your striking? A game of volleyball might help.

Eager to improve your takedown defense? Find your yoga Zen.

If these seem like counterintuitive training tips for an MMA fighter, that’s the point.  What’s counterintuitive for the mind can be hugely beneficial for the body, says the co-creator of a burgeoning new fitness training empire.

“It may seem like an oxymoron – an MMA fighter doing gymnastics – but it improves flexibility, improves stability, improves balance,” says Vincent Ho, co-founding trainer at GameChanger.

The Toronto-based fitness regimen is like a game of athletic musical chairs, putting trainees through a gauntlet of different sports in a 30-day rotation.

MMA fighters, Ho says, stand to benefit the most from such a varied program, because their sport demands such a potent combination of power, endurance, speed and pure toughness.

“What we’re seeing in MMA, especially someone like Georges St- Pierre or Jon Jones, are people who are extremely well-rounded athletes as well as great fighters.”

Ho says a number of amateur and pro MMA athletes are currently training in the program, including a UFC and Pride legend (whom he can’t name for confidentiality reasons).

“Because a lot of MMA training is a kind of cross-training, MMA fighters have been among the quickest to adapt to all the different sports in our program.”

By cycling trainees through a gamut of training sessions in 10 different sports – including football, soccer, volleyball, hockey and more – GameChanger aims to create “hybrid” athletes who exemplify the best of all worlds.

The program was created by the sibling team of Vincent and Stephanie Ho, who grew up watching their father, a sports physician, treat elite-level athletes from a broad range of sports.

“One day we’d be in a hockey arena, then next day we’d be watching a training session in a football stadium,” recalls Vincent.

“Eventually we thought to ourselves: what if you could combine these training programs in such a way to enhance the athletes’ overall performance, but not negatively affect their ability to play their individual sport?”

The result is a program that doesn’t turn gymnasts into linebackers (or vice versa), but capitalizes on the complementary aspects of each sport’s training regimen.

Extra motivation is provided by a competitive element that not only lets trainees track their own day-to-day progress, but see how their results measure up against the progress of others.

GameChanger is currently headquartered in the Toronto suburb of Markham, with 14 licensed trainers across Canada and big plans for expansion.

Because the program involves aspects of practically every major sport, debate inevitably arises among participants over which sport is the “toughest of all.”

It’s an argument that has been waged for decades – and will probably never be settled – but Ho has a unique insight on the matter.

Every four months, GameChanger hosts a grueling “Pro Series” challenge in which athletes from different background to see who is the “most fit.”

Recent competitions have been won by an MMA fighter and a Muay Thai Kickboxer, which Ho believes is a testament to the level athleticism in combat sports.

“I personally think MMA is the hardest sport out there,” he says. “Other members of my team believe it’s hockey, and I’m sure a football player would argue that. We love the debate, but I personally think MMA training is the toughest.”

For more information on GameChanger, visit TryGameChanger.com

Video of a GameChanger Fitness Event: http://youtu.be/dAYk8H0dmRE

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