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All ages and abilities meeting goals through The Outlet

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DEXTER, Maine — Since opening a little more than a year ago, The Outlet has served as a mixed martial arts (MMA) training center for all abilities including professional fighters, amateur competitors, those looking to take part in fitness programs related to the sport and children starting to learn martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).
“The Outlet is a place for people to plug in for their fitness,” said Kristy Rizzitello, who operates the Outlet along with her husband Angelo at the former Family Attic Thrift Store building on the Dover Road (Route 7). “We are a home for all their fitness programs.”
“What we expected is we would have adults say they have gotten healthier, lost weight and learned new skills but we have had some members say they have lowered their cholesterol, gotten off some prescription meds and lost 30, 40 and 60 pounds,” Rizzitello said about what she is most proud of. She said the younger BJJ participants are using the lessons learned on the mats in school, and their teachers have been complementing the pupils on their improved focus.
“These are the pieces we didn’t even know about a year ago when we started,” Rizzitello said. “All of the pieces have really added up to something positive, to see everyone of all ages take up the sport. The kid’s program has done so well, the parents say they are very happy with it.
“The family combinations we didn’t expect, we have families who are members,” Rizzitello said adding all four members of one family take part in programs at The Outlet. “We welcome all age groups and skill levels.”
On a recent Tuesday evening over a dozen boys and girls took part in a youth BJJ session led by Zack Adams — owner of Guardian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu — with some of the parents sitting off to the side of the match to watch what the youngsters were learning.
“We teach the kids self defense, primarily based on grappling-style martial arts,” Adams said before the start of the class. “Ninety percent of fights that last longer than 10 seconds end up on the ground and what I do is teach you how to protect yourself once you get there.”
The children learn proper techniques for body control and mechanics. “We try to keep it real fun,” Adams said. “The kids don’t realize they are learning jiu-jitsu as we are hiding it in games, kind of like hiding your broccoli in cheese so it goes down easier.”
When the children’s class concluded about 20 adults were ready for their turn, but Rizzitello said this Feb. 28 session would be different as Justin Witham was going to be unexpectedly presented with his blue belt. “It’s a very significant moment for him and Zack’s school, this is the first belt step up for Zack,” she said, with the blue belt being the first given at The Outlet.
Rizzitello said Witham — who is part of the Shatterproof Combat Club based out of The Outlet — has won his last two New England Fights amateur bouts via submission and he has earned a victory over the 125-pound champion in a non-title match. “It will be huge for what he’s brought to his fight game and this school, it’s a huge, huge accomplishment,” she said about the honor bestowed on Witham.
Members of Acadia BJJ in Ellsworth came north for the presentation near the start of the adult BJJ class. The attendees sat against the wall with Witham and Adams positioned on the other side of the mat. Unbeknownst to Witham, his fellow martial artists were lined up by ability and one by one he was going to need to roll on the mat with each before receiving his blue belt.
With the wall timer set to 60 seconds for each individual, Witham began his trial with the skill of his opponent increasing. As Witham was tied up and the clock neared zero, the next in line jumped in and took over from their predecessor.
In several instances Witham recognized who he was engaged with despite having his back turned, including fellow Shatterproof Combat Club fighters Angelo Rizzitello and Derek Shorey. “Must be Angelo” and “Hi Derek,” Witham said upon the recognition.
Adams was last in Witham’s blue belt initiation, and near the end of their two minutes Adams tied the new belt around Witham’s waist.
After a round of applause from everyone at The Outlet, Adams said a year prior Shorey called and asked if he would teach a BJJ seminar. Adams said at first Witham thought the discipline would not fit within his preferred MMA style “but he kept showing up and he started to figure it out a little bit and now he’s fallen in love with it.”
“In that time he’s 3-1 with two submissions against Brazilian jiu-jitsu guys and this June he’s going to be fighting for the 125-pound title,” Adams said. “I’m very proud to say Justin is our first official blue belt promotion in the time we have been here.”
As Witham earned the right to take the remainder of the class off, the other participants began to exercise. Kristy Rizzitello said the median age is the late 30s and early 40s, with several attendees a bit older. “They have found it very rewarding and it is not too difficult for your physical abilities,” as class participants can opt to sit out a drill if they choose.
She said a portion of the class features 5-minute rounds to learn more detailed instruction from the advanced fighters. “They take time and are so willing to teach their skills to you, it’s just a good community” Rizzitello said.
Adult BJJ participant Sarah said she has lost about 65 pounds in the last year through BJJ and kickboxing at The Outlet. She said she exercises at the facility about five times a week and came to The Outlet through a friend’s referral after getting a bit bored at a previous gym.
“I always enjoyed watching mixed martial arts and I was immediately hooked,” Sarah said. “I like the way every single workout is different and every single workout is a challenge. I like learning things that are useful for self defense.”
She also said everyone at The Outlet is very welcoming, “regardless of where they are on their athletic journey, there are professional athletes to those just getting back into it.”
Devin Corson, 19, of the Shatterproof Proof Combat began his MMA journey by winning his first bout on Feb. 11 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, earning a round three decision victory in a 155-pound amateur match. “Great can’t even describe it,” Corson said about those he trains and works out with at The Outlet.
The Outlet is located at 322 Dover Road in Dexter. For more information, please call 924-5144 or go to The Outlet Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theoutlet.biz.

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Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU BLUE BELT RECIPIENT — Justin Witham receives his blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu from Guardian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu owner Zack Adams during a ceremony at The Outlet in Dexter on Feb. 28. Since opening a little more than a year ago, The Outlet has offered mixed martial arts fitness programs for all ages and abilities with Witham becoming the first member of Guardian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Outlet to move up to a blue belt.

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Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
VARIETY OF AGES AND SKILLS — The Outlet in Dexter offers mixed martial arts classes, including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, to serve different ages and abilities. On Feb. 28 children had their opportunity to get on the mat for their session, with the adult class following.

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Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
LEARNING THROUGH FUN — Participants in a youth Brazilian jiu-jitsu class at the Outlet in Dexter go through some drills. The children learn about the discipline through games and other fun with their instructors.

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Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
EARNING HIS BLUE BELT — Justin Witham, left, grapples with fellow Shatterproof Combat Club fighter Derek Shorey as part of his Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt ceremony on Feb. 28 at The Outlet. Before being given the honor during a surprise presentation, Witham had to roll on the match with nearly 20 of his peers for a minute each in the order of ability.

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