A beginner’s guide to kickboxing

A major benefit of kickboxing going to the gym is sweating out any stress that may have accumulated throughout the day. Whether it’s office politics or an annoying leak in the ceiling, the movement has the ability to distract, de-stress and refocus your perspective.

Sometimes changing up your usual yoga flow or running route helps, but sometimes a whole new workout format is just what you need to relieve the stress you’re feeling. While kickboxing isn’t as common as Pilates, spin, or other popular fitness styles, it’s a fun and exciting way to spice up your sweat session – de-stressing on a punching bag is a healthy way to remove stress from your system. You might even enjoy it enough to incorporate the workout into your regular routine.

History of Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a full-contact martial art originating from Thailand in an early form called Muay Thai. Muay Thai was developed for self-defense but became a sport when unarmed combat was no longer useful in war.1 Kickboxing originated as a hybrid of Muay Thai and inspiration by other martial arts.

After a while, this became a full-contact sport with timed rounds and eventually even moved to a boxing ring. This is where the name “kickboxing” came from

If you are interested in kickboxing, you are not alone. Thanks to the best-selling Tae Bo workout videos, kickboxing became popular in group fitness circles in the 1990s and early 2000s. This eventually became known as cardio kickboxing. Many other instructors then created videos and classes based on cardio kickboxing. Not only that, there are often other varieties of martial arts and boxing workouts available at group fitness centers.2

Benefits of Kickboxing

Exercising can improve your energy levels, control your blood pressure, and help you sleep better. Exercising and group fitness have many benefits—kickboxing brings its own specific set of benefits.

Physical Benefits

Kickboxing can target many muscles, although it depends in part on what type of kickboxing you’re doing. Cardio kickboxing is more cardio-intensive and focuses on your abs. Regular kickboxing is a martial art and can target muscles throughout the body. Kickboxing most often targets upper body strength.

Kickboxing can improve upper body strength and improve aerobic strength, anaerobic fitness, flexibility, speed, and agility.

Everyday Benefits

Because of the amount of cardio kickboxing requires, it’s great for improving your cardiovascular health. Your cardiovascular health relates to your heart and blood vessels. A healthy heart can help reduce heart disease and other heart problems.5

Kickboxing requires hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and a fast reaction time. Constantly working to improve these areas can also help you in everyday life.

Tommy Dibernardo, the former MMA fighter and trainer at RockBox Fitness, says kickboxing involves multiple planes of motion that are essential to daily exercise.6

How do I start kickboxing?

Kickboxing is a full-contact sport that requires an intense full-body workout. If you are interested in kickboxing, here are some important things to do when you are starting out.

Choose a teacher and style

Expert Certified Personal Trainer Corey Nelson recommends starting with a non-contact cardio-kickboxing group fitness class if you’re a beginner. They are offered at most YMCAs, local health clubs, and boutique studios. Cardio kickboxing can be a non-intimidating way to get started with kickboxing workouts, and group fitness is accessible and affordable compared to a personal trainer.

If you have some kickboxing experience or prefer a contact sport, kickboxing is offered in smaller classes. If you finally decide to take kickboxing seriously, you might also want to look for a personal trainer to work with you alongside competitions.

Regardless of what type of teacher and class type you choose, you should talk to your teacher about your fitness level and general health. Be sure to share any health complications or injuries that they should be aware of.

Get the right kickboxing gear

According to Dibernardo, most studios require you to have hand wraps and boxing gloves. These are designed to protect your hands from injury. Of course, you should also get yourself a nice big water bottle. These are the basic requirements, although you should always speak to your teacher to determine the requirements for the type of gear you need to purchase.

Nelson went on to say that if you have long hair, you need sturdy sneakers and a hair tie. Safety equipment may include:

  • pocket gloves
  • Sparring Gloves
  • headgear
  • mouthguard
  • shin guards

Any clothing you wear should be comfortable but not too baggy or prone to catching on anything. Also, be careful to remove jewelry – it can cause injury or get caught on objects.

Kickboxing and Mental Health

Kickboxers often perform in high-pressure environments and need to be highly motivated and strong-willed. Failure doesn’t come easy for anyone, and as a kickboxer, you’re not going to win every match. Many kickboxers need to work on their confidence to survive the competitive nature of kickboxing matches.

Kickboxing is a constant battle between the brain and body to push yourself to get better, so having the right mindset is important. Continually improve your physical fitness, don’t take losses too hard, and make sure you prioritize healing from any injuries you may sustain.

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