Lightsaber Fitness Class helps Star Wars fans get in shape

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Monday, December 14, 2015

NEW YORK (WABC) -- "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" premieres in Los Angeles Monday, the first of three red carpet events in three different venues.

Eager fans have been camping outside the theaters for days to get a seat, and it's not only because they love the franchise. In order to buy tickets to the L.A. premiere, fans must spend at least 24 hours in line.

It's safe to expect the Star Wars hype to be at full tilt this week, with everything from holiday toys to snacks, and even the latest workout trend, because there is a place in Manhattan for all you flabby Jedi knights to get back in shape.

And the first rule of Jedi school is knowing how to handle your weapon.

Every Thursday at the Lightsaber Fitness Class, fans get to sweat it out in character, practicing moves just like the lightsaber battles from the movies.

Instructor Daniel Reiser is a special education teacher who has been leading the class for eight years.

"Where's the fun of just simply watching something?" he said. "I mean, you look at, say, a football fan. A lot of them are never going to be an NFL player, but they're going to go in the backyard and throw that football around. It's the same thing, but instead of footballs, we have lightsabers. It's a way of becoming part of something that we truly love."

By day the Jedis-in-training might be a legal assistant or a kitchen designer, but by night, they are united by one thing.

"It's a visceral gut feeling," class participant Russ Briggeman said. "It just feels satisfying to pick up one of these, and all of a sudden, you are a Jedi knight. You are a sith lord."

Star Wars has inspired a type of fandom that goes way beyond a love of watching the movies, and fans like these have to experience it.

Whatever your skill level, the group has one core philosophy.

"Once a Jedi, always a Jedi," Reiser said.

May the force be with you.