By MELISSA TORRE
On Thursday evening I walked into the Fitness Center with an ice-cold water bottle in my hand, dressed in loose, comfortable clothes, and even breaking out a new pair of running shoes. I began stretching for the kickboxing thinking that this would be an easy workout for the evening, but boy was I wrong.
Growing up a competitive swimmer, I’ve had my fair share of cardio-based workouts, but 20 minutes into the class I knew kickboxing was a completely different animal. Sweat began pouring down my face, as we transitioned from the self-defense portion of the class to intense cardio kicks and punches.
Hardcore rock music begins to blare over the loudspeaker and before I know it the class intensity dramatically shifts from a learning type of environment to a heart pounding, upbeat class with tons of movement. I quickly became fatigued during the first five minutes, and considered stopping multiple times. But there was one thing that made me keep pushing forward, the instructor.
Certified Personal trainer Zack Milliron, created UT’s self-defense kickboxing class last January, and has been working to improve the class and take it to a higher scale ever since. On Dec. 11, Milliron will be taking his ideas to an even bigger stage, as he will be hosting Cardio Kickboxing Day for Jacksonville Jaguars fans, beginning at 10 a.m. on Dec 11, before they take on the Minnesota Vikings.
Participation in the class includes admission to the game, as well as a free t-shirt with packages starting at $60. Preparing for this event has been a joyous but strenuous task for Milliron, but he is happy to be able to share his passion with an even larger audience.
“It’s an accomplishment, but to be honest it’s also a lot of work,” Milliron said. “But one of the most important things I focus on is keeping it fun and people getting a good workout. That’s the reason I started this.”
Although it may seem like Milliron had to jump through hoops to get a major gig like the Jaguar game, he describes it as a blessing of good timing.
Milliron said, he was in Jacksonville over the summer at a hotel when he began conversing with a man in the lobby, who turned out to be the Event System Manager General Manager for the Jaguars, about a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) shirt he was wearing. He began to discuss his background in MMA and how he teaches classes at UT. After liking what he heard the gentleman handed Milliron a business card and told him to email him a resume and that is when everything began to take off or the kickboxing event.
Milliron plans to tone down the workout for the Jaguar game, compared to the intensity he brings to UT three times a week, due to the nature of the situation.
“I’ll keep it more basic than the class offered at UT, because it will be a lot of people signing up for a fun thing to do before a football game,” Milliron said.
According to students of Milliron’s class, he adjusts to the pace they need. He not only breaks down the self-defense moves for students, but Milliron also explains what the moves will do as well as what types of situations where they might useful to a person in a dangerous situation.
“It’s nice to get a new self-defense technique and having them reviewed every now and then really does help,” said freshman criminology major Shastan Proctor. “And the cardio is good, it really does take a lot out of you. And by the end when we do the stations it’s a great way to incorporate everything.”
After attending a class, it is clear to all that Milliron really cares not only about what he’s teaching but his students as well. Freshman pre med major Annmarie Welch stated, Milliron is the type of instructor that tries to make himself available to students at all times to talk about the class. He’ll even take personal time out of his day to answer questions and during the class he is always willing to go over anything you are unsure of.
“He’s so passionate about it,” Welch said. “He just wants to make this a huge thing and teach everyone, and he wants everyone to feel included.”
Melissa Torre can be reached at email@example.com