It feels good. Kicking, punching, jabbing, kneeing, and even belting out an indescribable sound that is so loud it can disrupt anyone with their ipod on the highest volume. It’s kickboxing! And this popular form of exercise is still running wild in gyms and health clubs across the nation. And why shouldn’t it be? There is a lot that kickboxing has to offer in regards to health and fitness. Keep reading.

When I was a kid I would always go to watch my dad and my brother at their karate class. I always felt intimidated as I sat there watching these people spar with each other. I know they were all wearing gloves and knee pads and all that, but there was no way that I wanted to be up there with them. Are you kidding, and get my perfectly placed hair messed up? But at the same time I thought it must have been cool to learn how to fight. Imagine not having to be intimidated by bullies at school anymore or worried that they might try to start a fight with me at the bus stop.

These days it’s a different story. And what I once thought looked cool I now have an entirely different perspective on. You see, in most martial arts schools you are taught that fighting is not the answer to a dispute, and should only be done in life threatening situations. This was one of the first things I was taught at Degerberg Academy, where I received my martial arts training. I trained there for two years in the early 2000’s. The training there was hard and intense. Toward the end of my stay, I was in the same class as a lot of skilled fighters. Well let’s just say that they had absolutely no mercy on me. I went home with a bloody nose on more than one occasion. Even still, the experience was good and it gave me a great deal of self confidence because I was learning how to take care of myself. During my two year stay at that school, I also started to notice some very definite physical benefits. Not only was I learning to fight, but my aerobic capacity also improved as did my strength.

Unfortunately, I eventually had to leave Degerberg Academy due to becoming a massage therapist- couldn’t take the risk of hurting those hands. And also, those bloody noses were getting a little old. However, I started to think about how I could use some of the tools I learned and incorporate them into my personal training sessions. I knew I couldn’t teach martial arts in the manner that I learned it. Not only was I not a certified instructor, but I also did not want to use these tools as a way to teach fighting. My interest was in helping people to get in shape. So I decided to get certified in cardio kickboxing. I took a kickboxing course which earned me a certificate and the right to teach cardio kickboxing classes as well as incorporate drills into my personal training sessions. Learning kickboxing through this workshop was completely different than what I learned at Degerberg Academy. The aim was not to teach fighting; it was to teach fitness through kickboxing. That is why I always strongly enforce to my clients that the kickboxing drills that they are learning are not for street fighting. Anyone interested in learning how to fight properly and in the right circumstances should go to a respectable martial arts school like Degerberg Academy. If the goal however is to get in shape and have a great time doing it, cardio kickboxing is a great way to do it!

Cardio kickboxing can be done in a class setting or it can also be done one on one with personal trainers who have been trained in it. The physical benefits are vast and they include:

1. Improved aerobic capacity.
2. Increased muscular strength.
3. Increased muscular endurance.
4. Enhanced neuromuscular activity.
5. Adds variety to a workout program.
6. Increased core strength.
7. Increased fat burn.
8. Increased muscular power.
9. Relieves stress.
10. Proves to be fun for most clients.
11. You get to yell a lot and make faces!

As you can see, what’s not to like? When done in a class setting, kickboxing proves to be even more fun because you can really see how everybody else gets into it. The is a strong sense of fun that is felt throughout the class, especially when class members get to pair up and perform drills with each other. As a trainer who performs these drills with my clients, I also get a kick out of just how much they seem to enjoy it. If I didn’t know better I would think they are actually picturing their boss’s face when they are punching those pads.

As with most other forms of exercise, care should be taken to gradually progress to more difficult drills with kickboxing. No one should jump right in and try to do the most difficult drills at a fast pace without having progressed to that point. I usually spend a few good sessions teaching some basic punches and drills:

1. Jab.
2. Cross.
3. Back fist.
4. Boxer’s shuffle.
5. Bob and weave.

As one becomes more experienced with these, they can progress to more advanced punches and drills:

1. Hook
2. Upper cut.
3. Blocks.
4. Easy combinations.

And then there’s the kicking portion of the kickboxing. Again, it is very important to progress from the easier kicks into the more difficult kicks. Beginning kicks would consist of drills such as:

1. Front snap kick.
2. Front thrust kick.
3. Side kick.
4. Knees

More difficult kicks would consist of:

1. Round house kick.
2. Crescent kick.

Once a firm understanding of all of the drills has been attained, the next step is to start combining punches and kicks into easy to learn combinations. Repetition of these combinations teaches agility and balance and can give you a great workout!

Obviously there are differences between taking a cardio kickboxing class and learning it one on one from a personal trainer. In a class, you will probably be sweating your butts off! In a training session, you are more likely to feel it in your muscles in the next couple of days. Both are good forms of exercise and both bring about many physical benefits. And as I hinted before, it can also bring about psychological benefits. Kickboxing helps relieve tension because it gets the tension out! I wasn’t kidding about picturing your boss’s face on the boxing pad, or anyone else who might be bothering you for that matter. Usually, my kickboxing clients feel great after they’ve punched and kicked for an hour. As long as they are doing it safely, kickboxing can be an incredibly beneficial form of exercise that trains the entire body both aerobically and anaerobically. It adds variety and fun into a workout program and it keeps my clients coming back. So why not give it a try? And for all of you trainers out there, do yourself a favor and get certified in kickboxing. It’s a great time!

Thanks for reading. Be healthy!