It would be a distinct advantage if a mixed martial artist could use a club in the octagon.
It’s against the rules, of course, but Tacoma MMA trainer and occupational therapy assistant Matt Sloan is doing the next best thing. He’s putting clubs in his fighters’ hands during training.
They don’t swing the black Rotational Movement Training Clubs at each other, but rather at heavy bags, the air and the floor. They swing them like axes, baseball bats and sledge hammers. They swing them left handed and right handed.
“They really love the clubs,” Sloan said. “They feel off balance, but it wakes up the non-dominant side of their bodies.”
It’s this full-body workout coupled with improved coordination that could explain why these black clubs that look like a small medicine ball on a stick are starting to show up in the equipment quivers of personal trainers.
While Sloan says they’re great for helping fighters eliminate weakness, they’re also “a great tool for everybody. It can make anybody stronger.”
At first glance, the club looks like just another late-night infomercial workout gimmick. But a name printed on the device, “WeckMethod,” indicates it’s worth another look.
David Weck, inventor of the club, is the guy who created the BOSU balance trainer in the late 1990s. The BOSU (Both Sides Utilized) once looked gimmicky too. Now those blue half-ball trainers are standard equipment in gyms and physical therapy offices.
The jury is still out on the clubs, but Marty Shannon of WeckMethod says that like the BOSU, the club attempts to fill a fitness gap.
“We’ve found that a lot of athletes don’t have a good way to connect their upper body with their lower body and keep the same power,” Shannon said. “… Basically, somebody tries to transfer that power they made in the gym by lifting weights and doing squats and it gets lost. It’s what we call bleeding power.”
The club is designed to lessen that power bleeding by strengthening core muscles and improving coordination and power on the non-dominant side.
“A lot of power comes from the intersection of the hips and the midsection,” Shannon said. “… You need to be able to rotate in anything you do in athletics and that’s Grand Central Station.”
And creating more strength on your non-dominant side creates more symmetry.
“It’s like if you throw a baseball with your non-dominant side, it’s going to be awkward,” Shannon said. “If you’re dominant side is an 8 out of 10, your non-dominant side might be a 5. We want to get that up to a 7 so you don’t bleed as much power.
The clubs weigh from 2-8 pounds and range in price from $94.95-109.95 and are designed to be multifaceted.
The soft head is designed it can be used to strike the floor or a padded surface (which is recommend). Shannon says it can be used for myofascial release like a foam roller.
But perhaps one of the most intriguing things about the club is that it isn’t quiet. The head is loaded with 12-gauge buckshot.
This creates resistance when the club is used.
“If you’re taking a dynamic swing and change direction, that buckshot is still going in the opposite direction,” Shannon said. That resistance helps build strength.
And the noise of the buckshot gives the user instant feedback, an important resource in ambidextrous training.
As you become more coordinated on the non-dominant side, the sound the club makes becomes similar to that which it makes on the dominant side.
Shannon says strengthening your non-dominant side can decrease injuries because the dominant side doesn’t have to compensate as much for the weaker half. “Little changes can resonate through your body in a big way,” he said.
That’s why the right approach can be the secret to benefiting from the club. “Don’t start where you’re strong,” Shannon said. “Start where you’re weak.”