Kickboxing may sound intimidating, but here are the real benefits!

Everyone who knows me already knows I love running. It's my go-to sport and has been since I was 12. I was never strong and never had good coordination, but if I was quick, then I could survive in gym class. Thus, a runner is born!

But periodically over the past several years, I've dabbled in another form of exercise: cardio kickboxing. I've boxed on and off with various Groupons or when gyms are doing special deals. (I'm a single mom with not a whole lot of money or time!) I was terrified to try kickboxing for the first time, imagining beefed up guys and enviably toned women. (Again, the never-being-strong thing was also worrisome for me.) But I definitely liked the idea of the HIIT workout that would go with it. The first time I tried kickboxing three years ago, I was pleasantly surprised: all fitness levels were there, and it was okay that I had skinny arms and lots of energy that I didn't know what to do with yet!

The past couple weeks I've been hitting up iLoveKickboxing Annapolis, and it's been reinvigorating me on so many levels. After having a baby in 2018 and making my slow return to running, I could feel the changes in my body. My abs are weaker than they've ever been, and my arms are throwing little baby punches. But this gym makes me feel okay about it! The instructor welcomed me on my first visit and then greeted me by name on only my second visit!

kickboxing

Look at these smiling face and strong bodies! At the iLoveKickboxing Annapolis location. Courtesy of facebook.com.

The workouts are based on high-intensity interval training, divided up into three parts: warm-up, bag drills (where you do your kicks and punches), and then partner drills. There's a cool down, too, of course! This gym is solely for kickboxing, which means you can always get into a class—Classes are around the clock, six days a week.

partner drills

Partner drills. Mine are a little less intense. Courtesy of pexels.com.

So let's dive into what's great about kickboxing ...

The Benefits

Kickboxing is known to burn a lot of calories. It combines speed, cardio, and strength-training for your whole body, which is the golden rule of calorie-burning. If you're putting yourself out there and really throwing yourself into the workout (pun intended), you can expect to sweat. I'm pretty sure I was dripping after my first class. But showering at home afterward made it all worth it.

Personally, when I've incorporated kickboxing into my fitness routine, I've found that my running improves. And why wouldn't it? Kickboxing is focused on powerful movements, which by definition, according to associate professor of neurology and rehab science Kurt Jackson, is all about "force and speed." You're strengthening your muscles and your heart all at once. And when you strengthen your muscles, you're protecting your bones, which cuts down on injury.

An added benefit of kickboxing? It's good for your brain, too. Kickboxing requires intense levels of neuromuscular control, which can help strengthen your brain's communication to your muscles, ultimately improving your balance and coordination. (Yes, please!) Actually, kickboxing has been used in studies to help the elderly and people dealing with MS. 

So, if you're interested in kickboxing, I highly recommend iLoveKickboxing Annapolis. There's absolutely a class that will fit into your schedule, and everyone I've met there has been responsive, welcoming, and willing to help me out. You'll find a strong community there as well as all the health benefits discussed above!

Have you ever tried kickboxing? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments!

The Run-Around is a weekly feature, focusing on fitness in and around Annapolis, MD.