If you find step aerobics stale and dance classes a drag, Kwando presents one option for a chance of pace, offering a fusion of various martial arts and dynamic cardio in a single workout. As part of their BFIT program, Bally Total Fitness introduced Kwando in 1999. This group fitness class works alongside staples such as yoga, cycling, stepping and aqua fitness as part of the gym's cardiovascular and weight loss-oriented lineup.
At its core, Kwando mixes elements of boxing, karate, kick boxing and -- not surprisingly -- taekwando. The program incorporates basic punches, kicks, blocks and sparring routines from each of these styles in a simulated, non-combative fashion. It combines these moves with dynamic, high-energy cardio exercise that includes full-body movement. Kwando also includes standing abdominal exercise meant to help trim the tummy and tone the core.
Kwando fits the aerobic exercise bill -- the elevated heart rate you experience during this type of exercise benefits your cardiovascular system, improves your breathing and may even reduce stress. Other benefits of regular cardio include weight control, increased stamina and a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. On the weight loss end, Bally doesn't offer specific figures for Kwando's calorie burn, but a comparable 45-minute round of kickboxing burns about 600 to 800 calories, according to Sensei Serge Sognovi of Brooklyn's Urban Martial Arts.
In addition to the benefits of regular cardio, Bally claims that Kwando classes help improve agility, coordination and flexibility as you focus on maintaining balance while doling out blows. Kwando may also hone your mental abilities, as it challenges you to focus on executing specific moves in a graceful fashion. At its core, Kwando combines cardio and strength-training exercise, offering potential gains in both strength and endurance.
What to Expect
Bally's positions Kwando as a fitness program accessible to exercisers of all fitness levels; the class does not require previous martial arts experience. In fact, the company recommends Kwando for those who might feel a bit overwhelmed by traditional martial arts and the program is customizable, meaning instructors are willing to modify moves to suit your skill level.