It's in the Bag

By Danielle Directo-Meston / Photos by Sara Norris

Your post-holiday baggage has met its match... in the form of a 20-pound croissant. Saying goodbye to love handles starts with grabbing the handles of one of these crescent-shaped, calorie-crunching Bulgarian Bags on the extensive fitness menu at Point Loma Sports Club.

Inspired by competitions among shepherds in his native Bulgaria, wherein animal lovers lift livestock above their heads to demonstrate their strength, former Olympian and Greco-Roman wrestling champ Ivan Ivanov created the Bulgarian Bag in 2005 to provide a gym-appropriate version of the shepherds' activity.

Thanks to Ivanov's innovation, athletes and others hoping to get their workout on can now hoist, swing, push and pull leather-bound Bulgarian Bags (weighing between six and 84 pounds), flexible free-weights that, when manipulated through space, help build muscle in the shoulders, arms, wrists, core, back and legs... without the need for live animals.

Ivanov's colleague, former Navy SEAL Stephen Nave brought the Bulgarian Bag to the states a couple years later, eventually teaching Point Loma Sports Club's master trainer, Willie Edwards, the art of the workout Ivanov developed for his invention.

These days, Edwards leads members of the Liberty Station sweat sanctuary through one-hour Bulgarian Bag workouts, which fitness director Crystal Richter says are for people who "really want to be pushed."

The power hour - which includes a mix of cardio, plyometrics and strength training - can burn up to 850 calories. It's for those "who don't have a lot of fear," Richter says.

So before you raise that second mutton chop to your lips (or that second sheep over your head), consider the Bulgarian Bag workout. It's far from a piece of cake, but the results sure are sweet.

Point Loma Sports Club
2751 Roosevelt Rd., Liberty Station
619.582.2582, plsportsclub.com

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