Aerobic kickboxing, also known as cardio kickboxing, is a workout that combines elements of martial arts, boxing, and aerobics into a high-impact, high-intensity program that is quite popular in gyms. Some experts state that aerobic kickboxing can burn between 500 and 800 calories per hour, while increasing strength, stamina, and flexibility. Many women also use kickboxing as a way to increase their self-defense abilities.
Aerobic kickboxing incorporates boxing moves, such as kicking, punching, and striking with the knees, into an aerobic program of rapid stepping, squats, and jumping jacks, among others. Many cardio kickboxing classes are structured similarly, with ten to 15 minutes of active warm-ups, followed by 30 to 45 minutes of kickboxing, and then a cool-down period of approximately ten minutes.
During warm-ups, instructors may ask participants to stretch the muscles as well as get the heart rate up by jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, or even doing crunches or push ups. Cool-down usually consists of slower moves to slow the heart down, as well as more stretching to prevent muscle tightening and injury. When practicing aerobic kickboxing at home, it is very important to incorporate warm-up and cool-down periods into each workout.
Aerobic kickboxing is solely an independent, cardiovascular activity, and will not feature sparring or any type of fighting with other people. Some gyms may incorporate tools such as punching bags or jump ropes into their programs. Before taking a cardio kickboxing class, it is important to assess one's existing level of physical fitness, and perhaps observe a class first. It is typically not a good idea to jump right in to a kickboxing class without first building up some aerobic endurance by taking a more standard aerobics class, or performing some activities at home, such as walking or jogging. Checking with a doctor before starting any new exercise program may be a good idea as well.
Whether taking an aerobic kickboxing class at a gym, or watching a video or DVD, it is important to perform each move exactly as instructed. It is easy to kick or punch too hard and overextend a muscle, damage a joint, or twist an ankle or knee. For that reason, it is extremely important to start slowly, be patient, and understand the limits of one's body. Most gyms and DVDs offer classes or exercise programs at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, which gradually get more intense and fast-paced as the knowledge and strength of their participants increases. In addition, remember to always stay hydrated when exercising.