Monday, November 01, 2010


This week we introduced the Biggest Losers to a kickboxing class. Since I have a martial arts background, I like to make the kickboxing class very practical—they get to hit stuff like targets and the heavy bags.

Since they’re hitting things, the pads add resistance to the training. This is good for two reasons. First, it makes the workout more intense. It also is pretty realistic. If you ever have to defend yourself, it’s helpful if you’ve actually practiced hitting things!

Kickboxing can also be an amazing cardio workout. It uses the entire body, especially the core, as you bob and weave to avoid punches. Typically, I have partners hold pads that you hit and then block as they pop you back. It teaches you how to cover up and move to avoid being hit.

I like to work on things in “rounds” like in a match. One person might do “Jab, Cross, Cover, Cover” for two minutes while the other one holds the pads. Then they’ll switch roles for another two minutes. This way you get enough time to figure out how to get the skill going, but it’s also a nice little cardio interval.

Then, we’ll add something to the combination like, “Jab, Cross, Cover, Cover, Knee, Knee.” Two more minutes of that and then we’ll switch again. The next combination might be “Jab, Cross, Low Kick, Low Kick” and then “Jab, Cross, Kick, Knees.”

Once they’re pretty good at doing the combinations on the hand pads, I like to have the partner start moving a little bit before and after. This forces the kickboxer to adjust forward or backward which makes it more difficult. It’s also a little more real-world, as physical encounters never happen in a static environment.

People move and you have to adjust. Once they get some experience at moving in and out, I’ll have them start working on slipping to the side a little bit. Again, that raises the level of difficulty. It also raises the level of the workout intensity anytime you add movement.

At some point, we’ll turn to the heavy bag and let them work on their combinations there. While partner drills with pads make for learning how to react and move, the bag provides much more resistance. When you can snap off some combinations on the heavy bag, and get it to move, that means you can deliver some power to your target.

You’ve got to make sure you keep your wrists tight and straight when working on the heavy bag because it’s easy to lose focus. If you hit the bag hard with a bent wrist, you’ll have a sprained, bent wrist.

You’ve also got to wear boxing gloves to protect your knuckles. The gloves add some weight, too, which means more resistance. That means you’ll get more out of the workout.

Near the end of the class, I like to do 30 second intervals where they have to just go crazy with everything they’ve learned. It’s non-stop, full throttle, until I yell time. Sounds easy, but as soon as you ramp up the intensity, it becomes amazingly exhausting—just like a real fight would be.

When I was in the police academy, we learned that in a physical encounter, it’s typical to burn through 90% of your energy in the first minute. Part of that’s due to an adrenaline dump that comes when you’re in danger.

If you’re not in shape, and can’t manage your energy, you can quickly find yourself with little left to defend yourself. That’s why I like to do these short, fast intervals in class.

After three or four of those, people start slowing down big-time, even if they’re in pretty good shape. That’s when I like to throw in a 60 second interval to really blast them. If they can keep going guns blazing for 60 seconds, you’ll probably do pretty well in the real thing.

Normally, the classes last 45 minutes, and if we do it right, you’re ready to leave at the end. As you get better, your combinations get sharper and you can hit harder. You get better at moving, and as you move more, you’ll get an even better workout.

It’s not uncommon to have people burn over 500 calories in a class. Once, a few years ago, I had a gal lose 49 pounds in a year, and the only thing she did differently was take kickboxing twice a week.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Karen Brown who lost 1.6% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. Karen’s lost 11.0 lbs in just 5 weeks. While she will tell you she wishes it were more, she’s very happy about all the inches she’s lost!

Second place went to Nicole Shaughnessy who lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.4 lbs. Shay Jones came in third, losing 1.2 lbs, and Nikki Johnson was fourth, losing 1.6 lbs.

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