All the rage at fitness centers around the country, this workout borrows moves from the Thai sport of kickboxing to make participants work up a sweat. A typical hour-long class will take place in the martial arts studio. With everyone facing the mirror, a instructor leads the class through specific techniques, usually to the beat of dance-club music. The moves are worked into swiftly executed combinations (for example: jab, cross punch, hook, uppercut, front kick). Some teachers mix in a few minutes of jumping rope (often as a warm-up) and conditioning drills.
What are the benefits?
Although it may seem as if every new exercise trend is hailed as “a full-body workout,” these classes can come pretty close. If you do the techniques with precision and power, you’ll definitely strengthen your upper body and eventually see more muscle definition. The kicks will strengthen your legs, especially the hamstrings (the muscles that run down the backs of your thighs). And the kneeing move (a strike in which you thrust your bent knee upward) will firm your abdominal muscles; in fact, all of the moves, when done correctly, will make your torso into a solid base that lets you do everyday tasks more easily – whether you’re hoisting a heavy box into your attic crawl space or shoving open a window that always sticks.
Your cardiovascular system will benefit, too, though how much depends on the class. Some teachers offer a truly aerobic workout — they keep you bobbing, weaving, and jumping amidst the punches and kicks, so that your heart rate stays elevated for most of the session. Other teachers may not have you move around as much, focusing more on proper form. Either way, a good class will leave you drenched in sweat and energized.
** Class times may vary by location
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