How does it work?
If you don’t fancy yourself as much of a scrapper, don’t worry – most kickboxing classes available at gyms are far more geared towards the fitness benefits than preparing for an actual fight. (If you do want to be the next Jackie Chan, you should look for a dedicated kickboxing club with the formal belt-colour ranking system.)
The way your class is run will depend on the instructor, but most include a warm-up, circuit training, time spent learning different kicking and punching styles, drills of footwork and shadow boxing (where you punch and kick thin air), sparring with pads and practising with other equipment like freestanding punch bags.
Although it might take a while before you’re spin-kicking like a ninja, the intensity of the class makes it one of the best workouts for seeing a quick improvement in your physical condition. It’s a very sociable class too, as you’ll spend a lot of time working with a partner, using pads to practise your punches and kicks.
If you prefer your classes to be led from the front, “Cardio kickboxing” offers all the moves without the need to improvise. It’s a cross between kickboxing and aerobics, taking the moves from kickboxing and setting them to a high-energy soundtrack for a body-sculpting aerobics class with a mean, lean streak.
Is it for me?
If you feel more like Pooh Bear than Hong Kong Phooey, kickboxing could help you to become stronger, fitter and leaner while also improving your balance, coordination, flexibility and stamina. Also, after a hard day toiling over your keyboard, there’s nothing like punching the stuffing out of some pads to get rid of stress and build your self-confidence.
It’s worth bearing in mind that kickboxing is a fairly hardcore workout, so if you are very unfit you might find it tough going. However, a good instructor will be able to coach you to build up your fitness steadily and avoid injury.