Monday, January 2, 2012

Things to Know Before Joining a Kickboxing Class

Kickboxing first appeared in the United States in the 1970s. American karate practitioners were frustrated by the strict rules of traditional martial arts competitions that did not allow full contact kicks and punches. It has developed from a fighting sport to an aerobic fitness class offered in gyms around the country. Now people who don't have an interest in competing can derive the benefits of kickboxing without the safety concerns that full-contact competition brings.
Class Description
A kickboxing class will have the same basic format as a traditional fitness class. You will begin with a warm-up to increase your heart rate and prepare the body for exercise. The work or aerobic portion will be next and take up the majority of the class. You will then cool-down to lower the heart rate. At this point you may do some floor work for the midsection and end the class with stretching. Cardio kickboxing classes are typically set to upbeat, rhythmic music and last from a half hour to an hour.
Specific Skills
The work portion of a kickboxing class is where you will begin the sport-specific elements. During the class you will throw four basic punches: jab, cross, hook and uppercut. You will also execute three kicks: front, side and round kick. These elements will be worked from a boxer's stance with your lead leg switching so both sides of your body are worked. The instructor may throw the kicks and punches in a combination that repeats and/or a single element at a time.
In any fitness class it is easy to get over-enthusiastic and injure yourself. When you are performing punches, extend your arm until right before you lock the joint. The same goes for performing kicks. You should never lock out a joint as it increases the risk of injury. Keep your hands up by your jaw and your elbows close to your body. Feet should remain about shoulder-width and you stay on the balls of your feet with your heels elevated slightly off the ground. Listen carefully to the cues given by the instructor and ask questions if needed.
A kickboxing class can help you improve your endurance and increase your strength. The movements require a full range of motion so you will also see improvements in your flexibility. During the workout your heart rate increases, which will strengthen your cardiovascular system and burn calories to aid in weight control or loss. You will challenge your entire body during the workout including your core muscles.
Before you participate in a kickboxing class, you need to evaluate your fitness level. If you are new to exercise you may want to look for a beginning level or introductory class. This will teach you the movements and get your heart rate up, but not to a high intensity. Also, some of the movements may be put into sequences that are high impact, which means more demand on your body. If you have orthopedic issues or a chronic medical condition, this class may not be appropriate for you.

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