Have you ever want wanted to work out like a professional athlete? Now you can try working out alongside a pair of Calgary Stampeders, Benjamin D’Aguilar and Adam Thibault. The two athletes are using their years of experience from training both on and off the field to help participants get up and get moving.

D’Aguilar, who is covered in tattoos and sporting a mohawk is a formidable 235 lbs and stands at  6’2,  plays defensive lineman and special teams, likes to reflect on his ‘motion history,’ as he calls it.

“I’ve tried every system under the sun over a period of time, everything from crossfit to dance, mixed martial arts, everything, I tried it. There were aspects of all the different training methods that I preferred,” D’Aguilar says. “I decided to include all the finer elements of these programs into one place.” D’Aguilar has many years of training behind him, he’s inspired by many different techniques like mixed martial arts as well as techniques he uses on the football field. Photo by Cassie Telford.

D’Aguilar was encouraged to refine his workout and offer it to the public after meeting Taza Jungle Fitness owner, Grant Arden, who has a fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do. The two men had differing expertise, but similar philosophies about fitness. Their collaboration led to a class called Level Up, which emphasizes full-body movement, strength and stamina.

Class co-instructor Adam Thibault, a defensive back and special teams player, credits D’Aguilar for helping him figure out a better training system as an athlete.

“We want to teach people to work-out properly, to teach people better techniques, not only as athletes, but as better human beings,” Thibault says.

D’Aguilar encourages participants to move around and feel comfortable in their environment, and also to be comfortable with their fellow classmates. He even uses some inspiration from his training on the field.

One of the elements he includes is football sparring, which combines pass rush moves from football and the hand-fighting element of martial arts. He also believes there is a lot he can offer that other classes don’t, such as reaction drills and partner drills

“We’re not saying we are better than everybody else because we are athletes. We’re saying this is working for us, so we want to share with the public,” Thibault says.

At a recent class, all the participants admitted it was something new but they enjoyed the many elements of this untraditional workout. Jene Weatherhead and her workout partner have an intense tug back and fourth at Taza Jungle Fitness on March 20, 2017. Photo by Cassie Telford.

Friends Jene Weatherhead and Kelsy Toker were looking into more obstacle course training after the class had them doing some activities for the first time.

“It was different, it was interesting with the play aspect, wrestling moves with each other, getting the heart rate up. I’ve never done that before,” says Weatherhead

“It’s a lot more laughing and more fun,” Toker says. “Some other courses, you’re just heaving, saying ‘I got to get through this.’”

Here, she says, you’re not focused as much on the work, you’re focused on having fun.

If people are having fun, D’Aguilar says they’re more likely to stick with it.

“Try something for a day, then move onto two days and then three days and then it becomes a system, and then after that, it develops into a habit that you have,” he says, “Start easy and have fun.”


Editor: Josie Lukey | jlukey@cjournal.ca

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