Making It Count: Kickboxing

If you’re craving an all-in-one workout that doesn’t feel like a chore, consider a kickboxing or cardio kickboxing class. Kickboxing is a contact sport that’s part martial arts and part boxing; cardio kickboxing is an aerobic exercise class that incorporates choreographed kickboxing moves performed either in air or against a stationary punching bag. Classes vary widely, but, across the board, you can expect to burn calories, tone muscles, have fun and zap stress (jabbing a punching bag may be the ultimate way to blow off some steam).


  • Wear comfortable clothing that allows for full range of movement.
  • Call ahead to ask about equipment. You may need boxing gloves and/or shin guards. If gear is required, studios often rent it.
  • Bring water. People typically burn at least 350 calories per hour in a cardio kickboxing class; traditional kickboxers can burn even more (like up to 700, research shows).
  • Exhale through your mouth as you kick or punch; doing so will increase the power you exert. Inhale through your nose between strikes.


  1. Do your research. To find a kickboxing class that incorporates bag work and/or sparring with others, your best bet is to look at local martial arts studios (in addition, 9Round is a franchised kickboxing gym with studios in Summerville, West Ashley, downtown and Mount Pleasant). Cardio kickboxing classes with or without punching bags can be found at most gyms.
  2. Arrive early. If it’s your first class, get there early and let the instructor know
    so he or she can run through the jargon with you (for example, upper-body moves include jabs, upper-cuts and hooks, while lower-body exercises range from knee strikes to roundhouse kicks).
  3. Bring your patience. Both cardio kickboxing and traditional kickboxing classes include choreographed circuits. Expect to flounder some and remember that the challenge is a boon to your cognitive health.
  4. Looking to learn self-defense? Most cardio kickboxing classes aren’t aimed at teaching self-defense tactics. For that, try a martial arts or Tai chi class (turn to page 14 for information on a local senior self defense class.)


Photograph by Catalin Petolea/Shutterstock

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