New York Jedi, a lightsaber-wielding workout group, tells you why you should replace your yoga with a Yoda class.
Thu Feb 5 2009
Photographs: Jeff Gurwin
(a.k.a. Ebon Wing), 33, corporate consultant
What to expect: New York Jedi (classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays, time and locations vary; check newyorkjedi.com for more info; $10) is a mix of martial arts and play combat. “Typically a two-hour class consists of warm-up and stretching, instruction on specific techniques and choreography,” says Zhang.
On achieving Master status: “The title of Master is awarded to members in recognition of: teaching in class and sharing their expertise; assisting other members in developing their skills (outside of class time); and volunteering their time and skills for day-to-day operations.”
The necessary supplies: “If you do not have a saber, you can use broom handles or wooden dowels to simulate sabers. We also have extra practice sabers that we share. My first saber was a Luke Master Replica saber that I ended up selling to Carrie Fisher.”
(a.k.a. Zak-Ri Dicoo), 23, freelance artist
Listen up, ladies: “I just moved up here and New York Jedi was one of the main reasons for the move. I went to art school and I’m trying to become a comic artist. I’m looking for a girl who is into what I’m into, and knows how to have a good time. I’ll show her whatever moves I’ve learned that she’d like to see.” Interested? E-mail email@example.com.
It’s freeing: “New York Jedi is a place where, even if you’re a little bit geeky, you can express yourself in any way you can think of.”
Is it okay if my bed doesn’t have Wookiee sheets? “You don’t have to love Star Wars to join the group. We have characters that cross over from different movies and books. My character is a Kryptonian. I even have a few buddies who don’t like Star Wars at all, but the one thing that they dig is the lightsaber. I mean, how can you not think it’s cool?”
(a.k.a. Azure Dragon), 32, auto claims agent
The dork factor: “New York Jedi is not what some people might think it is. We are not LARPers who go around bashing each other with padded bats. This is real stage combat: We are punching, kicking, jumping, rolling around—all with a saber in hand.”
On kickin’ ass: “I’m doing something that I’ve wanted to do for years: swordplay/stage combat. I studied a bit outside of studio class as well, and have gained skills in Eskrima (a Philippine martial art that utilizes dual swords). I’ve always been in fairly good shape, but since joining the Jedi, I’ve gained some strength and more muscle tone.”
Their toys—we mean “deadly lightsabers”: “My sabers are from a company called the Custom Saber Shop (thecustomsabershop.com)—you basically design your own from the parts they have available. The hilt, blade size, color, everything is la carte. You purchase it all, then solder the wiring, and you’ve got yourself a saber. I have three right now.”
DeRovira, (a.k.a. Jovi Nedarra), 23, and Hughes (a.k.a. Hedrath Glee), 27, dating
Their intergalactic love affair: “One night we were partnered in a class exercise, which prompted a conversation that stretched beyond class. Somewhere between the class and the end of karaoke rounds we just knew we should be together.”
Brandon on the workout: “I’ve lost about 60 pounds and down three pant sizes. In terms of actually performing, it’s as much of a workout as dancing. Your entire body is moving throughout a well-choreographed fight. I’m not athletically inclined: I was the kid who did everything in his power to avoid gym in high school. But Jedi has found a completely unique way to apply something physical to a niche group of people who can be very sedentary.”
Jenna on the workout: “I like Jedi because it gives me a more fun form of exercise that allows me to be social at the same time. I can be laughing and having a good time swinging around my saber hacking out a new routine instead of working out alone, which I did all of last year.”
Watch fight demos at Comic Con on Fri 6 5:45--6:45pm. On Sat 7 2:45--3:45pm, watch Sabers Unleashed, a 40-minute scripted show. Go to Own This City on page 40 for more info.
Brawns and brains
Nerds aren’t known for their buff bods, but these geeky workouts could help change that.
Fencing bouts can burn around 300 calories an hour. Don’t know your coul from your coup? The Fencers Club has a package deal that caters to beginners—one private and two group lessons—for $125. You’ll be en garde--ing in no time! 119 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-807-6947, fencersclub.com). $40 per class plus a $30 floor fee.
Stop by the racquetball courts at Gravity Fitness, where various interactive fitness games are projected onto a 20-foot wall (complete with surround sound). Personal trainers are available for a private workout ($110 for an hour), or you can go at it on your own ($50 for an hour plus $25 if you’re not a gym member). 119 W 56th St between Fifth and Sixth and Aves (212-708-7340, parkermeridien.com/gravity). Mon--Fri 6am--11pm; Sat, Sun 7am--8pm.
Channel your inner seventh grader and that burning wish for Halo to come to life at NYC Paintball in Queens. Strap on the heavy equipment and prepare to paint your opponents with blasts of neon while huffing and puffing through the 27,000-square-foot facility. 47-11 Van Dam St between 47th and 48th Aves, Long Island City, Queens (718-361-8337, newyorkcitypaintball.com). Starts at $36 for six hours of play including admission, gun, mask, pads and 500 paintballs.—Lisa Freedman