Ancient weapon used by Hindu warriors reborn as fitness tool at Regina gym

Zack Yanyk opened Regina's Warrior Flow in June, which he says is Canada's first steel mace fitness studio and launched Western Canada's first competition dedicated to the ancient weapon.

The steel mace is derived from a weapon that dates back to the Middle Ages

Zack Yanyk is the owner of Warrior Flow in Regina that specializes in steel mace workout classes. (Samanda Brace/CBC)

The first time Zack Yanyk held a steel mace in his hand, he knew he wanted to teach a fitness class on it.

Derived from weapons used by Hindu warriors and other cultures dating back to the Middle Ages, the steel mace is a long staff made of metal with a weight offset on one end.

Yanyk discovered the mace more than two years ago while attending a week-long fitness training workshop in California.

Yanyk says he sometimes enters a mediation state while swinging the steel mace. The longest he has exercised in one session is just under six hours. (Samanda Brace/CBC News)

The disproportionate weight placement makes it a great tool to build core and rotational strength, Yanyk says, noting he lost 75 pounds in eight months exercising with it.

"There was nowhere in Saskatchewan or the Prairies at all that we're running classes on it. So I heard on a Kevin Smith podcast once that if you want something that doesn't exist you need to create it," he said.

He opened Regina's Warrior Flow in June, which he says is Canada's first steel mace fitness studio, and launched Western Canada's first competition dedicated to the ancient weapon.

Zack Yanyk says he lost 75 pounds in eight months after discovering steel mace. (Submitted/Zack Yanyk)

He compares the rush he gets working with the weapon to a so-called runner's high, a sometimes euphoric feeling. 

Yanyk teaches different styles of steel mace in his studio. Some movements are adapted from training practices in India, where its called a gada, that are used in most competitions. 

There are also rhythmic movement patterns known as flow, and a boot camp style using the unique leverage aspects of the mace, which weigh between five and 30 kilograms.

The steel maces used at Warrior Flow range in weight from five to 30 kilograms. (Samanda Brace/CBC News)

 Caron Zora-Hertzog, one of Yanyk's first class participants, wanted to try out the mace to recover from a sports injury.

"It's a full-body workout. You would think you're just working on your shoulders and your arms but it's your core, it's your back, it's your abs. It is absolutely everything but it also works on mobility on all parts of your body," Zora-Hertzog said.

A year after her injury Zora-Hertzog is winning local competitions. She attends the studio three times a week with her own maces, each of which have their own name, from "Five Alive" to "Sergei."

"It's different. It's fun. It really really challenges you mentally and physically," she said.

Many of the classes include learning unique movement patterns using the steel mace. (Samanda Brace/CBC News)

"I think it's a little bit special compared to many other gyms or places that I've been at. Everybody is so supportive everybody encourages each other. Everyone has everyone's back."

Many of Yanyk's students have gone on to become certified coaches in steel mace, and one has opened her own studio Steel Mace Valkyrie.

"When you can find passion in a movement practice, that's when you going to see the results that you want," Yanyk said. "So find your passion, whatever it may be. Hopefully it's mace, but if it's not, find it and rock it until you get where you want to go."

Warrior Flow opened in June, and many students have embraced the unconventional work out. (Samanda Brace/CBC News)