Kickboxing is rapidly growing in popularity, why? Because it offers a total-body workout, improves skills that transfer to other activities and is a solid stress reliever. What exactly does kickboxing entail? Well, it’s often an umbrella term for any type of activity that involves different kicking and punching techniques. For example, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do and Gwon-gyokdo are all considered to be a form of kickboxing but they all have very different values, beliefs and techniques. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to stick with your average freestyle kickboxing (think cardio kickboxing or Tae Bo) that you can do in any gym or at home. However, if you’re interested in narrowing your field of study down to one of the above disciplines, I highly encourage it.
The Benefits of Kickboxing
If you’re looking for a satisfying way to work off stress and pent-up aggression while burning calories and getting in great shape, kickboxing may be your cup of tea.
Kickboxing involves intense bouts of kicking and punching. These assaults may take place on empty space, a heavy bag or another person. Either way, I can guarantee you’ll feel better (won’t be tempted to throat-punch Deloris) and be covered in sweat by the time you finish – you, for the win!
Weight Loss and Fat Burning Potential
Kickboxing incorporates full-body moves and built in interval training, not to mention you get resistance from the heavy bag. These aspects combined with the fact that your instructor will push you beyond (what you believe to be) your limits, and you’ve got yourself a fat-torching workout.
Think I’m exaggerating? A 155-pound woman can blast through 372 calories in a 30-minute kickboxing class. Add in the heightened metabolic rate following your class and those numbers can add up fast, resulting in some serious fat loss after several weeks of training.
Toning and Muscle Building Potential
While you’re shredding fat pounding away at your imaginary foe, you’ll also be building some formidable muscle. Punching, jabbing, striking and kicking works your body from head to toe and when you’re engaging with a 100-pound heavy bag, your muscles are really going to get a working over.
But, who are we kidding?! Anyone who’s ever worked out with Billy Blanks on the flat screen knows that just upper-cutting the air in front of you can engage muscles we didn’t even know we had – and don’t get me started on the sore glutes!
We can’t talk about building kickboxing strength without addressing the core. Every move made in kickboxing is generated in the center of the body. Every kick, punch and strike requires you to use your core muscles for strength, power and stabilization. So, it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway), that kickboxing will yield a strong, sturdy and resilient core. If you keep the junk food to a minimum, your abs might even make an appearance.
Long story short, if you’re looking to tone up and get an amazing cardio base, kickboxing will take you there. It will also keep you coming back, it’s hard to get bored when your workouts are constantly changing.
Classes: What to expect; should I take them?
While you can kickbox at home by yourself or work along with a DVD, a class is definitely worth the time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with flying solo, but working out with a group will give you some direction and make you push a little past your comfort zone.
Many gyms offer kickboxing classes so just check the group fitness schedule at your gym. If you want to take your training more seriously, you can find kickboxing-specific gyms or opt for a specific martial arts practice.
Kickboxing classes can be a little intimidating for beginners but don’t worry, you can move at your own pace. These types of classes are for all conditioning levels, so whether you’re in great shape already or are just getting started on your fitness journey, you’ll fit right in.
During you class, you can expect to work hard, sweat, burn some serious calories and learn some pretty rad skills. You’ll learn how to punch, strike and kick effectively; generate power; and move efficiently. All of these will result in better coordination, balance, agility and strength. Basically, kickboxing has the potential to turn you into a serious badass, just saying.
Instructional Kickboxing Videos and Training Tips
Whether or not you take a kickboxing class is up to you. However, I’d definitely recommend doing some recon before getting down to business. Here are a few videos we found that should give you a pretty good taste of what to expect.
- Warm up prior to your workout. You’ve got to be limber to move like a ninja.
- Perfect your form before you worry about speed or power. A roundhouse kick is useless if you can’t execute it properly.
- Stay hydrated. The constant movement and exertion will have the sweat flowing so make sure to drink during and after your workout.
- Make sure you are your only competition. Don’t get hung up on all the cool stuff your neighbor is doing – she’s probably been doing it a lot longer than you.
- Cool down and stretch after your workout. I’ll say it again – stretch! Kickboxing requires immense flexibility so not only should you stretch after each and every class, you should also do it in between classes. You’ll recover faster and reach your goals (and high kick) faster.
Clothes and Proper Attire
For your kickboxing class, you should plan on wearing either sweatpants or workout leggings to allow for freedom of movement. If you want to look the part, you can buy some Muy Thai shorts or other bottoms designed specifically for kicking/fighting.
Of course, you’ll need a sports bra – there will be plenty of bouncing. A tank top or t-shirt will round out the top half of your wardrobe.
Some gyms may require you to wear shoes while others promote working out barefoot. If you are going barefoot, you may want ankle supports that will not only bolster you ankles but also protect the top of your foot. It takes a while for your feet to become accustomed to all of the impact from kicking, so they may not be a bad idea.
Your gym should provide you with gloves or you may be required to buy your own – either way, make sure you have them. You won’t make it very long with bare knuckles. For added hand and wrist protection, you can wear wraps underneath your gloves.
Results and Success Stories