WESTPORT, Conn. — When Chris Sansonetti was a teenager, he and his friends would often work on their martial arts skills after school.
“We’d practice in our backyards and get black and blues,” the Milford resident said, laughing.
He got a little more serious about the practice at Central Connecticut State University, where he was a member of the karate team.
So it comes as no surprise that he’s managed to make a living passing on his know-how to hundreds of students over the past 14 years and he’s bringing his skills to Fitness Works of Westport.
Beginning September 6, Sansonetti, owner of Superior Fitness and Martial Arts, will offer 24 classes for adults and children in a spacious mirrored room at the Playhouse Square fitness center.
Adult classes include fitness kickboxing, Pilates and Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces that’s gaining a strong following in the United States.
“I work on what the person needs,” he said. “I teach about motion and flexibility. You take exercise science and the self defense and put it together.”
Children ages 4 to 6 can enjoy the fun Fit Ninja program and graduate to youth martial arts, with a focus on discipline and fitness through Tang Soo Do, Ju-Jitsu and Escrima skills.
Sansonetti also offers personal training for ages 13 to adult, specializing in adding muscle, decreasing body weight and improving flexibility.
Sansonetti, who is certified in personal defense readiness, said people often join a martial arts program to shed a few pounds and feel better when they look in the mirror. But he finds many students develop a real affinity for the extra dimension of self defense.
“It’s fun, it’s full-body conditioning, they meet new people,” he said. “After a while they say, ‘I actually feel more confident and I look better.’”
While he appreciates the age-old traditions of many martial arts, Sansonetti said he’s always looking for ways to modernize skills and keep classes dynamic.
“I’m always thinking, 'how do I make it better?’” he said. “It’s the psychology of self defense. How do you outthink the bad guy?”
Sansonetti has taught martial arts and fitness for several years through the recreation departments in Stratford and Monroe. He said he looks forward to bringing his experience to a Westport audience.
Fitness Works is located in at Playhouse Square, 275 Post Road East, just below The Granola Bar. Sansonetti will be posting a class schedule soon on his Superior Fitness and Martial Arts website . For more information, contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-556-8154.