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Am I Too Inflexible for Fitness and Martial Arts?

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

fama singapore stretching flexibility mobility kru jerel louie

Once in a while, you scroll through your Instagram feed and chance upon some impressive, albeit unrealistic martial arts photo or video featuring a very flexible practitioner. It could be a straight 180-degree kick, or contorting oneself in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) match to escape an attack.

It looks strange, sometimes even grotesque, but you also begin to wonder if flexibility is a prerequisite for you to practice certain fitness activities, martial arts being one of them.

We speak to our FaMA Fit Coaches Kirstie Gannaway and Jerel Louie, and physiotherapist and FaMA student Conor Mc Hugh, who straighten out the facts!

1. How are some people more flexible than others?

fama singapore physiotherapist conor mc hugh
Physiotherapist and FaMA BJJ Blue Belt, Conor Mc Hugh

Conor states that flexibility is largely determined by genetics, and the tightness of one’s ligaments. A person with more lax ligaments will be naturally more flexible.

Flexibility is also determined by the age, gender, exercise history, and general lifestyle. If you’re living a lifestyle that does not allow you to move often, your ligaments will be tighter, hence making you less flexible.

2. Are flexibility and mobility the same?

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Flexibility relates to the soft tissues in your body, while mobility relates to the joints. It also refers to movement and controlled active range of motion.

To understand the difference between flexibility and mobility, Conor relates this example to a person lifting his leg straight up in the air from a laid-down position: “Flexibility is passive… someone else can lift it up for you and keep it straight, but you will not be able to do it on your own actively, unless you have good mobility.”

fama singapore stretching flexibility mobility fitness coach kirstie gannaway

However, “Flexibility can be a major component for mobility,” adds Coach Kirstie, “The two go hand in hand.”

3. I am an older adult with a sedentary desk job and not much of an active background. Is it too late to develop more flexibility?

fama singapore stretching flexibility mobility fitness

Age, lifestyle, and exercise history are factors to your flexibility. Coaches Kirstie and Jerel agree that physical activity will help to activate dormant muscles and can lead you to improve your flexibility.

Having seen many patients with sedentary office jobs that require prolonged sitting, Conor recommends incorporating frequent movement into one’s lifestyle. "Variety is the spice of life. Stand up, sit in different positions, go for a short walk to stretch the legs.

Keep moving. It doesn't have to be for long; under 5 mins will do. Breaking the pattern of static positions and you will feel better.”

You heard the Physio! Get moving for at least 5 minutes a day!

4. Flexibility for martial arts vs martial arts for flexibility - what comes first?

fama singapore stretching flexibility mobility fitness kru jerel louie

Many people are deterred from joining a sport because they think they must be fit, strong, or flexible first, in order to take part in it. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of our students join us for the first time with little to no experience and work from there.

“Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are wonderful activities to keep one physically and mentally active,” says Coach Jerel.

fama singapore muay thai kru jerel louie

The FaMA Fit programme also incorporates dynamic stretches that will support your martial arts training. The coaches, who are active Muay Thai and BJJ practitioners themselves, also incorporate Muay Thai and BJJ inspired movement concepts to facilitate dynamic stretching and mobility work.

In short, come as you are, and allow the process of learning a martial art to help you achieve better physical goals!


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FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts training facility located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from the Clarke Quay MRT station, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Each program is led by experts in their respective fields. Whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for everyone.

FaMA Fit

An all-in-one fitness class suitable for everyone, FaMA Fit incorporates moves from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing and Kickboxing together with functional training to help develop flexibility, mobility, strength, balance, and stamina. For beginners who are just starting out, the FaMA Fit Fundamentals class is an entry-level program that will work the entire body. FaMA Fit and FaMA Fit Fundamentals classes are run by professional athlete Coach Kirstie Gannaway.


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