Are you looking for a total body workout that totally kicks butt? How about a way to increase your stamina, flexibility, and strength while listening to your favorite dance mixes?
If this sounds good to you, keep reading to find out what you need to know before you take the kickboxing challenge.
Although the true roots of kickboxing date back to Asia 2,000 years ago, modern competitive kickboxing actually started in the 1970s, when American karate experts arranged competitions that allowed full-contact kicks and punches that had been banned in karate.
Because of health and safety concerns, padding and protective clothing and safety rules were introduced into the sport over the years, which led to the various forms of competitive kickboxing practiced in the United States today. The forms differ in the techniques used and the amount of physical contact that is allowed between the competitors.
Currently, one popular form of kickboxing is known as aerobic or cardiovascular (cardio) kickboxing, which combines elements of boxing, martial arts, and aerobics to provide overall physical conditioning and toning. Unlike other types of kickboxing, cardio kickboxing does not involve physical contact between competitors — it's a cardiovascular workout that's done because of its many benefits to the body.
Cardio kickboxing classes usually start with 10-15 minutes of warm-ups, which may include stretching and traditional exercises such as jumping jacks and push-ups, followed by a 30-minute kickboxing session that includes movements such as knee strikes, kicks, and punches. Some instructors may use equipment like punching bags or jump ropes.
After this, at least 5 minutes should be devoted to cooling down, followed by about 10 minutes of stretching and muscle conditioning. Stretching is really important because beginners can strain ("pull") their muscles, and slow, proper stretching helps relax muscles and prevent injury.
Instructional videos and DVDs are also available if you're interested in trying a cardio kickboxing routine at home.
Before you decide to jump in and sign up for a class, you should keep a few basic guidelines in mind:
Here are a few moves that you can try at home:
Besides keeping your body fit, kickboxing has other benefits. According to a study by the ACE, you can burn anywhere from 350 to 450 calories an hour with kickboxing!
Kickboxing also reduces and relieves stress. Its rigorous workout — controlled punching and kicking movements carried out with the discipline and skills required for martial arts — can do wonders for feelings of frustration and anger. Practicing kickboxing moves can also help to improve balance, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.
Kickboxing is also a great way to get a total body workout while learning simple self-defense moves. Kickboxing fans say the sport helps them to feel more empowered and confident.
So get out there and jab, punch, and kick your way to fitness.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2011
|American College of Sports Medicine This site has tips on staying safe while playing sports and exercising.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
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|Pilates Pilates improves your mental and physical well-being, increases flexibility, and strengthens muscles. And with some pilates exercises, all you need is your body and a mat!|
|Sports and Exercise Safety Playing hard doesn't have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.|
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