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Sleeping Tiger has big kettlebells 

You won’t find weight machines, treadmills, or Pilates studios when you walk into the new Sleeping Tiger fitness center in San Luis Obispo.

click to enlarge WAKE THE TIGER :  Nathan Zimmerman will help get you fit and ripped at Sleeping Tiger Fitness at the rate of $20 for drop-in classes or $120 per month. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • WAKE THE TIGER : Nathan Zimmerman will help get you fit and ripped at Sleeping Tiger Fitness at the rate of $20 for drop-in classes or $120 per month.

Instead, curious athletes are greeted by blank walls lined with unconventional sports equipment. Beer kegs, kettlebells, sledgehammers, and a tire fit for a monster truck sit on the vacant floor. You get a sense that this is both a safe yet violent environment, which is perfect for simulating the stress involved in an attack.

Sleeping Tiger specializes in hard-style kettlebell training and Krav Maga self-defense.

“We wanted to go with something that nobody else was doing,” said 26-year-old Sleeping Tiger instructor Nathan Zimmerman. “Something that was different, but we knew still got results.”

 A kettlebell is a Russian-style weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle on top. The weights come in varying sizes and are used for strength and fitness exercises.

Walt Handloser, 30, has been training with kettlebells for a year and a half and went from 235 to 170 pounds. He joined the program because he struggled with weight.

“For me the goal was never to bulk up,” Handloser said. “My focus was on increasing physical fitness and on losing weight.”

Krav Maga, which is Hebrew for contact combat, is a defense tactics program developed for the Israeli military.

Lisa Rivera is a level three instructor through the Krav Maga Alliance and works with local law enforcement in defense tactics.

Zimmerman and apprentice instructor Seth Hutchinson, 36, help Rivera in the class.

“She is very informative,” Hutchinson said. “She can beat everyone up.”

Zimmerman agreed that Rivera would kick his ass in a street fight but contested that he still had the upper hand in a competition format. “In Krav Maga, there are no rules,” Zimmerman said.

Students learn how to defend themselves in real life situations. The techniques used are meant to be instinct-based and integrated, meaning one technique can be used to fend off several different types of attacks.

There’s also a course developed for women interested in Krav Maga, which means women don’t have to worry about being partnered with someone who’s in a heavier weight class than they are. Women can choose to attend the co-ed classes.

“For some women, [working with men] turns them off from the training,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully they get comfortable enough to move into the regular class. I would rather have them training just with women than not training at all.”

Sleeping Tiger already has new programs in the works for next year, including a Primal Move class that focuses on getting back to primitive movement through the use of games. Sleeping Tiger already uses Primal Move at the end of its kettlebell sessions.

“Everyone goes from looking super tired from when they are about to walk out the door to being happy,” Zimmerman said.

Sleeping Tiger is also working with San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation to offer kettlebell and Krav Maga in the park on Saturdays. Both programs are open for enrollment through Classes will be held in Mitchell Park until the end of January when they move to Santa Rosa park.

Sleeping Tiger has classes five days a week. Kettlebell trains in the mornings and evenings Monday through Friday. The co-ed Krav Maga Level 1 class runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. The women’s Krava Maga class is on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. For exact times of the classes visit You can also e-mail Zimmerman at or call him at 748-9180. Sleeping Tiger is at 3595 Sueldo Road, suite 100, in SLO.

Fast fact

Tis the season when helping others is most needed, and Central Coast Hospice is looking for volunteers. Candidates must be willing to commit to a four-hour block of time each week. Duties can include support and companionship to the patient and his/her family, caregiver relief, light chores, running errands, visiting, and bereavement services. Prospective volunteers can visit or call 540-6020.

Intern Aleksandr Hewitt compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business and nonprofit news to

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