Kickboxing classes offer participants a high-impact workout that incorporates aerobic exercise and resistance training techniques for a strong, fit physique. In cardio kickboxing, participants use both the upper and lower body to punch, kick, block and elbow a phantom opponent, which keeps heart rate high and strengthens muscles. Other kickboxing classes feature one-on-one challenges, boxing bags and periodic strength training breaks. The benefits of this intense exercise are many.
Cardio kickboxing classes differ from self-defense-focused options in that the participant's goal is better aerobic fitness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that periodic cardio training results in a more efficient heart and lungs; regular cardio also prolongs life and wards off disease because it burns dangerous visceral fat for energy. Participants also report improved mood as well as a sense of empowerment and increased self-esteem following kickboxing workouts, according to American Fitness Professionals and Associates.
Although traditional kickboxing classes improve cardiorespiratory health, participants earn the added benefit of improved self-defense skills. Some participants of kickboxing classes count better self-defense as their primary goal. In addition, kickboxing classes that utilize punching bags, speed bags and live opponents result in gained muscle strength and improved toning in the legs, arms and core. The AFPA notes that the form, precision and reaction time required when fighting a person may leave a cardio kickboxing participant feeling overconfident about their fighting abilities -- a potentially dangerous result. Traditional kickboxers, however, improve hand-eye coordination, an essential skill in hand-to-hand combat.
Strength, Flexibility and Balance Benefits
Regardless of the type of class you choose, you will wind up stronger, better coordinated and more flexible from kickboxing. Throwing jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts works the biceps, triceps, deltoids and core; kicks work the glutes, hips and legs. When you practice kicks such as the roundhouse, you also work your balance skills; kicks also increase flexibility. Many kickboxing classes feature a strength-training interval component that requires participants to do multiple reps of squats lunges, pushups, biceps curls, shoulder presses and triceps dips, because stronger muscles mean stronger punches, blocks, kicks and elbows.
Improved Energy and Focus
Unlike other types of exercise that people can do while thinking of other things -- such as running or stationary cycling -- kickboxing demands the participant's full attention. As a result, regular practitioners report feeling more focused during workouts. Because cardiovascular exercise improves endurance, kickboxers also note higher energy levels but less stress throughout the day. Best of all, unlike other forms of cardiovascular exercise, the kickboxer uses her entire body during the workout, which burns calories and, when combined with a proper diet, will result in weight loss.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.