Fitness the Fighters' Way: Get in Shape With Kickboxing

Kickboxing is an ultimate frustration reliever and intense physical workout.

What's Kickboxing?

Push your physical limit in a kickboxing class designed for fighters and taught by amateur and professional mixed martial arts competitors.

The kickboxing classes taught at mixed martial arts gyms are far more intense than aerobics classes at a typical gym. This is a physical, gut-checking fighting class where you learn how to kick, punch and throw elbows against a heavy punching bag.

There's no sparring.

"The workout is gaining popularity with young adults in their 30s who grew up with UFC and other mixed martial arts fighting," said Hung Nguyen, spokesman for No Limits Mixed Martial Arts in Irvine, California.

Classes range from 45 to 80 minutes (depending on which studio you go to). A typical class consists of a short warm-up, 30-45 minutes of bag work, and 10 minutes of abdominal exercises.

The hardest part of each class is a series of "rounds," a three to five-minute period where you use a combination of kicks, punches, and your elbows and knees to strike the bag. Each round finishes with a mix of speed punching, squats, push-ups and jumping jacks.

You get a 30-second break between rounds. You'll do four to five rounds per session.

Benefits

The ultimate frustration reliever and intense physical workout.

"Kickboxing targets those problem areas: the buttocks, the thighs and the entire waist region," said Michael Frison, lead instructor at Orange County Kickboxing and Martial Arts in Irvine.

"Every time you kick, you're contracting those stomach muscles. In a class, you're doing hundreds and hundreds of ab exercises."

A one-hour kickboxing class burns about 800 calories.

Drawbacks

Time commitment is demanding. At No Limits, instructors recommend taking four classes a week.

You'll also be sore for the first couple weeks of class until you build up your strength and stamina. No pain, no gain, right?

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