Fighting for Fitness

Kick and punch your way to a better body

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

So you didn't grow up idolizing Bruce Lee or spending your afternoons watching Kung Fu Theater on television. When you hear the name "George Foreman," you think of grills, not left hooks. You have no desire to kick anyone's butt -- well, not usually, anyway.

No matter. If you're seeking better health, more confidence, and a stronger body, a kickboxing or martial arts-inspired workout might be just the thing to get you into fighting trim.

"People see results" from these workouts, says Whitney Chapman, group exercise manager at Reebok Sports Club/NY in New York. "They have stronger legs, stronger arms, more definition, and (participating in the classes) promotes a sense of inner strength and balance."

Kicking and sparring took to the mainstream several years ago when the fitness industry caught on to the cardiovascular and toning benefits of fighting-based workouts. Thanks in part to the popular Tae Bo videos by Billy Blanks (one of the first to capitalize on the aerobics-martial arts trend), gyms nationwide began adding these types of classes to their schedules.

Cardio kickboxing classes and creative variations like Powerstrike, Fitness and Defense, and Tai Box (to name just a few), blend boxing with aerobics, teaching punching and kicking combinations for a high-powered workout that builds strength and confidence.