Karate + FIT offers many benefits

Photo: Part of the large area for martial arts classes at Karate + FIT in Southaven. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

An instructor of martial arts forms and an instructor of fitness exercise have joined forces to offer a new place to improve your physical…and spiritual health.  

Called Karate + FIT, for Faith Inspired Training, April Carpenter and Jeff Crook opened in June 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic were finally able to hold their Grand Opening last weekend. They are located in the Shops of Southaven at 3964 Goodman Road East at Elmore Road. 

Assisted by eight other instructors along with themselves, Carpenter and Crook are certified to teach several fitness and martial arts specialties.  

Jeff Crook and April Carpenter, owner/operators of Karate + FIT in Southaven. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

“I have a fourth-degree black belt in karate, a second-degree in taekwondo and then I’m certified to teach tai-chi for health through the Tai-Chi for Health Institute, certified in three of their programs,” said Crook, who previously taught karate through the Olive Branch YMCA.  

“I have certifications with AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America),” added Carpenter. “We’re all CPR-certified and we’re certified in our different specialties, Silver Sneakers, yoga, Zumba, and such. All of my instructors are certified in a major area and then a specialty area.”

While spending time improving your physical health during one of their classes, Carpenter will also offer a little upcoming spiritual encouragement at the same time.  

“I have a Masters of Arts in Religion,” Carpenter explained. “I’ve always been an avid exerciser, so my love of exercise and religion came together, because I wanted a space where we could do more signature faith-related endings of each class.”

That means with each exercise class she teaches, there will also be a short ending with some words similar to a brief devotional that will be inspirational, encouraging, uplifting, and motivational.

Crook and Carpenter came together as both were seeking to start their own location and offer their martial arts and exercise knowledge to the community.  

“My real goal was to be able to teach karate to kids and then fitness for adults, but I really didn’t have a whole lot of interest in the fitness side of it,” Crook said. “I had karate students coming in but I couldn’t get any of the parents to join in and I was in a very tiny space of 700 square feet.”

Carpenter was able to provide the exercise component that Crook was hoping to provide.  

“We got together about January of 2020 and started talking about having shared space to get a larger space for both of us,” said Carpenter. “He already had picked the name, had the vision to have karate plus some exercise classes as well.”

Karate + FIT worked through the pandemic with tough protocols that included mask requirements, temperature checks, consistent cleaning and sanitizing. Air purifiers were also in constant use in the center.  

Carpenter said exercise can be even more important today as people try to return to a more-normal lifestyle because we may have been a bit more sedimentary the past year while being more isolated due to coronavirus  

Robin McNickle, an instructor, shows a youngster some moves during Karate + FIT’s Grand Opening on Saturday, july 17 in Southaven.
(Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

“I’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking,” Carpenter said. “Sitting 11 hours a day for someone over the age of 60 is about the average that we sit. We certainly see the need to move. We’re more of a place that’s going to say, ‘let’s come out and do a class 2-3 times a week and get your exercise in.’ We’re not going to push to the point of exertion but let’s get the benefit of exercise and feel better. 

Carpenter added the benefits of exercise include better sleeping, joint movement, and better moods, among others.  

Crook said the classes he teaches are also meant to offer better health to those who take part.  

“The tai-chi is from the Tai-Chi for Health Institute,” Crook explained. “Two of the programs that I am certified in are tai-chi for arthritis, which has been endorsed by arthritis foundations around the world as well as the Centers for Disease Control for improvement of conditions of arthritis.  There’s also tai-chi for diabetes, which is designed specifically for diabetes, so they can exercise without becoming hypoglycemic.” 

Karate + FIT can be reached at 662-548-3880 for questions about martial arts, 662-243-5533 for questions about exercise classes, or you can visit the Karate + FIT website.  

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