The Kickboxing Class Craze Is Sweeping The Nation

An overview of kickboxing classes- the moves and benefits of this Tai-Bo style workout for men and women of all ages!

Have you tried kickboxing? This relatively new form of exercise is sweeping the country, getting both men and women who shunned aerobic classes back into the gym and (literally) kicking up their heels!

Made popular by Billy Blank's Tai Bo tapes, kickboxing is a way of exercise that combines the kicking of karate with the punching and jabbing of boxing. You don't have to be really coordinated, as there isn't a lot of choreography involved. You simply follow the instructor's lead to kick, punch or jab in time to music.

What are the benefits? Well, it's a great calorie burner, for one. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) estimates that a one hour kickboxing class burns approximately 350 to 450 calories per hour! In addition, Kickboxing is a good stress reliever - you can picture anyone you want on the receiving end of your kicks and jabs! It also increases your cardiovascular conditioning, tones muscles and increases flexibility.

It's a great workout, and you'll feel the results both during the workout and afterwards. Basic moves involve the arms (punching, jabbing, hooks and upper cuts) and legs (front and rear kicks, lunges, knee lifts and jogging in place). You can also expect to do a lot of jumping jacks and shuffling back and forth.

You'll see both men and women of all ages in these classes. Fancy spandex outfits aren't needed; just wear sturdy shoes and comfortable shorts and a tee-shirt. Good tennis shoes with sturdy soles are important to absorb the impact of bouncing, kicking and shuffling repeatedly. You should also bring a towel because you're going to sweat, and a big water bottle to prevent dehydration!

If it's your first visit to a kickboxing class, you should tell the instructor it's your first time. This will cue them to help you with some of the moves and give a little more instruction. Don't be self-conscious about being new, very few people can do all of the moves perfectly. It is important, though, that you pay attention to the instructor's cues and directions. You could injure your knees or arms by kicking the wrong way or over-extending your arms vigorously. If you're not sure what to do, just shuffle in place and watch the moves until you're ready to join in. Of course you should be sure to listen to your body, and rest when you feel fatigued.

You can also buy a kickboxing tape like the Tai-Bo tapes to try at home, if you prefer. Look for one labeled "basic", "introduction" or "beginner" to learn the basic moves. You might also check to see if your local library or video store has kickboxing tapes to try it before investing in one (or more)!

Of course if you're just getting started on your exercise regime, you should see your doctor first. Kickboxing does use your joints extensively and you'll want to make sure this is a physician-approved activity for you.

If you're looking to integrate some cardiovascular exercise into your regime, or add a change of pace to your current exercise routine, give kickboxing a try. It's a fun way to get a good workout and doesn't require a high level of dance coordination. And most importantly, it's a fun way to burn a lot of calories, and feel good about yourself. So grab your tennis shoes and water bottle, and give kickboxing a try!

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