How a Martial Arts Instructor Trains When He's Not Teaching

Photo courtesy of Armando Ibarra

Photo courtesy of Armando Ibarra

Chances are good that Armando Ibarra is practicing capoeira—an "Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music"—right now. Or perhaps he's teaching capoeira at the Army lofts in the Mission, or Lagree fitness, or TRX at Fit Local Fit or 17th Street Athletic Club. Frankly, no one knows when Ibarra actually finds time to eat or sleep because he's always teaching.

Despite the non-stop commuting between studios, Ibarra remains kind and calm. His clients love him and follow him from gym to gym. So how does Armando prepare to teach 40 hours a week (and train on his own)? Read on to find out.

Rockyt: What do you teach?

Armando: I teach TRX, Lagree fitness, and Capoeira. I've been known to run an intense bootcamp, as well.

Rockyt: How do you prepare for the classes?

Armando: If I am familiar with the clients, I teach based on skill level and who is there. Otherwise I make sure that my classes have an easy flow and transition, and make sure I hit every muscle group.

Photo courtesy of Armando Ibarra

Photo courtesy of Armando Ibarra

Rockyt: How do you cross train?

Armando: I teach a lot of youth Capoeira classes, which require me to participate myself so that they learn the movements. A lot of time it is isometric holds so that they digest the movement, or nonstop movement and kicks which I consider my cardio. I like to mostly exercise at home, focusing on flexibility and some weight training.

Rockyt: What are your favorite studios for cross-training?

Armando: Right now I like Core40, it forces me to mentally push my body past its limit, and to slow down and be aware of my movements. I am recovering from a spinal injury, and I always feel like I walk and move better after one of those classes.

Rockyt: Are you training toward a particular fitness goal right now? 

Armando: I’ve grown up doing martial arts so I find that I am always training. There are many events that [I do] within days or weeks of each other. I train my mental endurance as much as my physical body to be fluid and to adapt to the intensity so that I can continue to grow everyday.

Rockyt: Do you take rest days? 

Armando: I find that my rest days can be as light or as intense as training. Some days I spend stretching and running errands, but other days I'm in bed napping. Most mornings I force myself to sit and be still to regain mental stamina. There is a difference between doing nothing and actively resting.

Rockyt: How long have you been teaching?

Armando: I have been teaching youth for the past 10 years. I started assisting as a teenager and slowly it began to expand in other areas of life. I was helping train some of the girls from my cheerleading team, creating workouts based on their position in the sport. From there, I found that I liked to create and to help people on their growth.

Photo courtesy of Armando Ibarra

Photo courtesy of Armando Ibarra

Rockyt: Do you have a desk job, too, or are you a full-time instructor?

Armando: I spend my days just teaching something, either Capoeira or fitness. For me, I feel that training always has the answers and teaching is training yourself out loud. I like the flow and groove I find myself in when I teach at a few locations. I had a day job and it made me crazy being in the same scenery for hours.

Rockyt: As an instructor, what are you known for? 

Armando: I think I’m probably known for my anecdotes. I like to teach, but I also like to tell stories. I sometimes find that some instructors play the same popular music or talk in the same fashion when they teach, but we never have the same stories.

To schedule a class with Armando Ibarra, check the schedule at the Mission Cultural Center, Fit Local Fit, or 17th Street Athletic Club.