Ah. Kickboxing… Gruesome pain and broken bones. Jean Claude Van Dam. Blood Sport. Fights to death… These are some of the misconceptions people have when they hear the term “kickboxing.”
So what is kickboxing exactly? What’s involved? Do you have to fight someone? Will you get really hurt working out?
I’m a kickboxing instructor who has heard all these questions and more from my kickboxing students. So I thought I’d share 5 things you should know when first starting out on your kickboxing endeavor.
1. No, you do not have to fight someone.
When people first hear about kickboxing classes they think, ”oh that’s exactly what I see in the movies.” They would actually visualize guys and girls fighting each other in the ring within fitness gyms and centers. They are very wrong. In fact, most of the time the classes offered consist of intense, calorie-burning workout sessions conducted WITHOUT physical contact. You DON’T have to fight anyone! If you’re hesitant to take a kickboxing class because you’re scared you’ll have to take physical abuse from another person, don’t be. The kickboxing classes that many studios offer prioritize the fitness aspect of the workout without making students spar each other. Being educated and knowing what exactly kickboxing classes entail would have made many of my students start much earlier.
2. It’s not as hard as you think it is.
A while back a friend of mine learned that I was teaching kickboxing classes regularly and had asked me about a practice he had seen in a movie. He actually assumed that I had my students kicking trees with their shins to condition them. He also assumed that I had my students run 25 miles daily, as well as punch hanging carcasses of meat in a butcher shop. No. The classes that I was instructing required a lot of physical activity, but nothing like he described. I would call for many push-ups, sit-ups and things of that nature. I would teach beginners how to punch and kick properly, mostly on a heavy bag. Yes, in the beginning it will be difficult and tiring. But, overtime it becomes easier and many of my students began breezing through the workouts, having fun the more they progressed.
3. It’s not as easy as you think it is.
Many gyms offer cardio kickboxing classes where students do not use boxing gloves or heavy bags. They simply punch in the air. One of my students, whom we’ll call John, told me how he watched one such class, where the members were following dance-like motions that the instructor had them mimic. It looked easy, almost like a joke. No one was even breaking a sweat! So on John’s first day of my kickboxing class, he thought he would breeze through it. But after about an hour-long class, John was on the floor breathing heavily and sweating buckets. My class had kicked his butt! He struggled with the push-ups and he wasn’t kicking and punching the heavy bags properly, which made him a lot more tired than the other participants. This wasn’t some dance class as he had assumed it to be. He told me it was hard, but so rewarding. Like many others on their first day, John was addicted.
4. No, the instructor isn’t trying to kill you.
Looking back at that first class John had taken, he really thought that I was trying to kill him. I pushed and pushed and pushed him to do more. Although all instructors have a different style of teaching, mine seemed very “pushy” to John. He kept thinking, “Wow, calm down. Let me breathe a little.” When it was all said and done, I remember approaching John with the biggest smile, and I told him how proud I was of him. I praised him for his hard work and encouraged him to return. Everything I had said, worked. John pushed himself to a point he had never been before in his life and felt great about it. It was an amazing accomplishment for him. Although I seemed pushy at first, it was actually thoughtful encouragement I was inflicting. For John, it worked. It worked very well.
5. Yes, you will get addicted.
After John’s first class, he was instantly hooked. He told me that the workout was better than anything he had ever gone through. I taught him how to defend himself, all the while burning up to 800 calories per class. The more and more that John learned, the more and more his physical capacity enhanced. Not to mention he finally got a six-pack. His confidence grew so much since his first day. Each class I had presented something new and always left John and fellow students wanting more. John had always said that he wished he discovered kickboxing earlier. For John and many of my kickboxing students, it was life changing.
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