I did a HIIT kickboxing circuit today where each station called for three minutes of punching, kicking, or boxing-inspired conditioning moves. And let me tell you: I never knew three minutes could be so long.
Kickboxing workouts come in many forms. Sometimes you're doing choreographed kicks and punches as part of an otherwise vanilla aerobics class. Other times, you get to wrap up your hands and match wits with a speed bag, which was the kind I tried.
Here are some things you might want to know:
- Plan for your hands to be useless. Halfway through the workout, a coach strapped a pair of giant puffy boxing gloves onto my hands. This left me unable to scratch itches or wipe sweat off my face. Next time, I would consider wearing a sweatband or bandana on my forearm. Other first-timers have noted that, for the same reason, you should wear pants that don't slide down, because you may find yourself unable to hike them up.
- Ask about hand wraps. The experienced people at my gym used them, but it was fine for beginners to go without. Wraps help stabilise and protect your hand as you punch, and they also soak up sweat inside gloves. If you use them, make sure to ask how to wrap them correctly.
- Some bags are for accuracy, and some are for force. I started smacking the hell out of a double end bag, and the coach had to run across the room to stop me. That's not what it's for. Little punches on the little bags, go to town on the big heavy ones. When in doubt, ask your instructor what the goal of each exercise is supposed to be.
- You'll feel amazing when you figure out the speed bag. That's the tiny punching bag on a pivot. You have to hit it in the right place, at the right time, without making it twist — otherwise you'll lose the rhythm. This list of speed bag tips matches what my instructor told me. It took a while, but I eventually was about to do 10 hits in a row.
It helps to know some basic punches (jab, cross, hook, and uppercut) and kicks (front, side, and roundhouse), but it's your instructor's job to teach you the proper form for those. If you'd like a sneak peek, Wikipedia has descriptions of all the moves you're likely to see.
Fitness kickboxing instructors tend not to be as focused on form as instructors who are teaching you to fight actual people, so if you want to be sure you're punching or kicking with as much power as possible, look for a coach from a martial arts or boxing background.
Now it's time to share your tips and questions. Have you tried fitness kickboxing? What surprised you, and what would you tell a beginner? If you would like to try, what questions do you still have?