Kick outside the box and try a new kind of total body workout. Kickboxing, this week’s Grobby (that’s Greatist lingo for hobby) blends different martial arts styles into a sport that not only burns calories and strengthens muscles, but also improves balance and coordination.

Gotta Kick It Up — The Need-to-Know

Photo by Collin Orcutt

Cardiovascular kickboxing— or aerobic kickboxing— is a non-contact sport that offers participants an intense workout with moves borrowed from boxing, martial arts, and aerobics. Kickboxers learn defense and fighting stances, and practice jabs, punches, kicks, and blocks (no “wax on, wax off,” sorry) on punching bags and hit pads. Kickboxing shares some basic moves with mixed martial arts (a former Grobby), but there are a few important differences between the two activities. While MMA often includes grappling and takes place standing or on the ground, kickboxing emphasizes predominately-standing techniques like kicking and punching.

Kickboxing’s oldest ancestor is Muay Thai (as refreshing as the Mai Tai beverage, but in a different way), which originated roughly 2,000 years ago in Thailand. The American form of kickboxing evolved from “full-contact karate,” a martial arts style that became popular in the 1970s as a way for participants to subvert the contact limiting rules of traditional karate. Since then, a few new types of kickboxing have developed— so people who feel nervous about hitting an opponent in the face can take guilt-free jabs at a punching bag.

Get Kicked Out — Your Action Plan

Just one hour of cardio kickboxing increases heart rate and can burns upwards of 400 calories, though the exact amount depends on factors like a person's weight and fitness level. All that kicking and punching strengthens arm, leg, and ab muscles and gives people the gift of Gumby by improving flexibility. Aspiring kickboxers have a few different options, including classes, personal trainers, and kickboxing-inspired workouts they can try at home. Cardio kickboxing classes generally involve warm-up exercises, followed by a routine of punches, strikes, and kicks, along with some stretching as a way to cool down.

Kickboxers may not always duke it out with each other, but they still have to take proper safety precautions. Common kickboxing injury spots include the back, knee, hip, shoulder, and ankle Incidence of injury in kickboxing participation.Romaine, L.J., Davis, S.E.., Casebolt, K., et al. Department of Movement Studies and Exercise Science, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, PA. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2003; 17(3): 580-586. . One simple way to reduce the chance of an accident is to keep a slower pace, since racing to keep up with a Cascada techno remix may result in an injury Incidence of injury in kickboxing participation.Romaine, L.J., Davis, S.E.., Casebolt, K., et al. Department of Movement Studies and Exercise Science, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, PA. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2003; 17(3): 580-586. . And it's always important to stretch before throwing some punches, so as not to strain any muscles. Then get ready to kick it, boxing style.

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