Kicking your way to fitness

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Rachel Smith
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Whether people kickbox in an organized class or in front of the TV, those who participate in the activity reap the benefits of an improved cardiovascular system while having fun and relieving stress. 

Kickboxing, also known as boxing aerobics or cardio kickboxing, is a mixture of martial arts and aerobics. Unlike the traditional walk or jog, participants benefit from increased strength and flexibility as well as coordination and sharper reflexes, according to the American Council on Exercise. The average 135 pound person also burns approximately 350 to 450 calories per hour session. 

Also, the benefit of kickboxing in a group setting is that participants are more motivated to workout at a higher level, said Mario Padilla, the base fitness center’s kickboxing instructor. 

Anyone — beginner, intermediate and advanced — can participate in the class as Mr. Padilla said he provides modifications to his instructions so that participants can adjust the workout to their levels. 

“The first time you come [to the class], you don’t have to have any background,” he said. “I usually ask in the beginning of classes, but it’s a good idea to let me know if you’re new so I can go over basic kicks.” 

Some common mistakes beginners make are overextending their kicks, locking joints when throwing punches or kicks and using dumbbells when throwing punches, according to ACE. Participants should start with low kicks and gradually increase the height of their kicks to avoid pulling muscles. Also, using dumbbells adds unnecessary strain to the joints putting members at a higher risk for injury. 

Proper form is very important to maintain throughout the class to get the full benefits of the workout, said Mr. Padilla, who has been a kickboxing instructor for seven years. Participants should do the modifications if the workout begins to feel like too much, he said. 

It is a good idea to make sure that if anyone has injuries or joint concerns to see a doctor or physician to ensure they’re physically fit to start kickboxing or any other fitness program, said Mr. Padilla. 

Most importantly, drink plenty of water before, during and after the workout, he said. Properly warming up and stretching before the workout and cooling down and stretching after the workout are also very important. 

McChord members can attend a free cardio kickboxing class Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. at the fitness center annex.

Keep in mind …

Check with your physician before beginning a program. This is always good to do before starting any new fitness program.

Start off with a beginner program. Find a simple program that has limited repetitions and isn’t too fast so you can work on form.

Always warm up. Stretch specific to your workout and include some low kicks and light punches to warm up your muscles.

Start slow, low and light with kicks and punches. Progress slow, kick low and don’t overextend or lock your joints.

Do no more than three cardio kickboxing workouts per week. Start with one workout and gradually build to three.

Include strength/stability training during the week. If not part of your fitness regime, do this training between workouts.

Don’t ignore your feet. Ensure your shoes allow for kickboxing movements and consider doing drills that strengthen your feet.

Basic Kickboxing Terms

Forward Jab: Punch with flat part of first two knuckles. Elbows tucked in close.

Cross Jab: Same as forward jab but cross centerline of body.

Uppercut: Punch upward and pivot hip slightly for added power.

Knee Strike: Reach up and pull target down as you raise knee to chest.

Front Kick: Bring knee up first and then extend the leg. Contact with ball of foot.