Brazilian jiu jitsu isn't all about strength and fighting.

It's about developing a healthy lifestyle and one of the ways people can participate in non-sparring jiu jitsu is through a ginastica training session, said Park City Jiu Jitsu instructor Mike Diaz.

"Ginastica is considered the basic movement of jiu jitsu," Diaz said during a demonstration for The Park Record. "It's about flexibility and control."

Although ginastica is beneficial for all ages, it is especially good for the middle aged and elderly, because it keeps them moving and active, he said.

"It's a great workout for people who are 60 or 70 years old who want to stay active and improve their game on the golf course or who want to continue skiing," he said. "If they take time to participate and learn some movement skills, they can warm up a little before heading to the slopes and feel great when the get there and ski like the way they used to."

So, Diaz and Park City Jiu Jitsu, 2750 Rasmussen Rd., will host a free ginastica session for anyone aged 50 and older, on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m.

Diaz, who trained under Pedro Sauer, a student of Helio Gracie, considered by many as the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, said the class would not be a strenuous fighting workout.

"It will be an introductory session that will teach people how movement helps their bodies," he said. "We'll learn how to twist and turn and move better."

Participants will also learn to breathe correctly while working out.

"When we breathe right, our joints work and move better, and our blood flow improves," Diaz said.

The class will teach control, flexibility and dexterity, three things a lot of elderly people lose because of inactivity.

"When you move, you never want to be a slave to momentum, because that's when you get hurt," he explained.

Park City Jiu Jitsu student Richard Zipnick, a medical doctor with the Utah Orthopaedic Associates Utah Sports Medicine Clinic in Salt Lake City, said there are three main benefits of ginastica.

"First, if these exercises are taught and practiced correctly, they will provide important and healthy compression of the bones and reduce osteoporosis, a disease that reduces bone mass and increases the risk of fractures," said Zipnick, who uses ginastica principles in his patients' rehabilitation. "After age 30, all adults start losing bone marrow, so it is important to keep the bones healthy.

"Secondly, as Mike said, it helps with digestion," Zipnick said. "When most patients are in the hospital, or laid up for an extended amount of time, they will develop what is called an ileus. That's when the abdomen and the gastrointestinal tract stop working and it becomes a big problem. So, movement, even in a limited capacity, is so important with digestion, and in ginastica, there is lot of movement."

The third benefit is learning to fall in a way that limits injury.

"All of the physical therapies that are done these days are focused on fall prevention," Zipnick said. "Falling is inevitable here in Park City, regardless of what age you are. And ginastica teaches us how to fall without breaking bones, and then, more importantly, how to get up after you fall."

The Dec. 15 session will start with a fitness evaluation that will help Diaz and Ramona Stark determine the physical welfare of participants.

"If someone comes in who can learn the basic movements quickly and do them correctly, they can move to another class, which will be a little more challenging," Diaz said. "So, people who attend won't be intimidated."

Stark whose brother was a friend of Diaz's instructor Pedro Sauer, said the classes would also help older people who are still active.

"Park City has a large population who are over 50 and still ski and snowboard," she said. "This upcoming session is a way for them to improve their skills safely."

Park City Jiu Jitsu, 2750 Rasmussen Rd., Suite 104, Quarry Village, will hold a free special movement session for senior citizens aged 50 and older on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. For more information, call (801) 638-5950 or email parkcityjiujitsu@gmail.com.