The Mental and Physical Benefits of Kickboxing

WAIT! I CAN LOOK GOOD AND FEEL GOOD BY TRAINING IN KICKBOXING?

Lets face it when you think of a kickboxer you think of an amazing athlete with skill and grace. You also think of people punching and kicking each other repeatedly. So why on earth would someone like me a tiny female in my forties ever want to try kickboxing? Shouldn’t i just take a cardio kickboxing class at the gym?

I have no delusions grandeur of becoming the next UFC star but oddly enough i was drawn to Muay Thai style of kickboxing after the gym i belonged to dropped their cardio kickboxing class that I fell in love with. This was the main reason I joined Neutral Ground.

I kind of had an idea what I was getting myself into knowing this wasn’t a normal class at the gym but not to the full extent. I had NO idea I’d be walking into a class that would change who I am as a person both mentally and physically.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF KICKBOXING:

Self Defense: Although this can be both physical and mental  I’m going to put it under physical benefits.I never set out to take kickboxing as self defense but in hindsight what an amazing way to learn it. I can promise you I have the skills and the confidence to walk around anywhere because of my training.

I would encourage every woman to at least learn the basics so they can have self defense tools for life. No one one would ever think me standing four foot 11 could ever defend myself against anyone, but now kickboxing has given me this secret weapon!

Increased Endurance: Everyone likes breathing right? I mean its kind of essential for living. Have you ever in your life been out of breath walking up a flight of stairs? Do you get winded just at the thought of exercise? Then you know endurance is needed for more than sports.

Kickboxing teaches you how and when to breathe so you can keep up your endurance, You can have all the skill in the world but if you are tired and out of breath it does you no good. This is one of THE most important things I have learned with my training.

Weight Loss: Simply put Kickboxing burns a ton of calories anywhere from 800 to 1000 in an hour. The constant movement and use of your entire body makes it one of the top calorie torchers!  In one class you are literally working your arms your legs and your core. its a true total body workout. Oh and you will have a ton of fun doing it so it won’t even feel like a typical boring workout.

Coordination/Balance and Flexibility i grouped these 3 together because they go hand in hand. Most of kickboxing relies on core strength. You will quickly see a difference when it comes to your core. You need it for balance you need it to deliver effective kicks and punches. your core is 100% engaged while you are training. The added benefit to core strength is better posture and less stress on other parts of your body. The benefits of a good core are too numerous to post but a good core translates into just about every daily activity you do.

Balance is as important as core. Learning how to execute kicks over and over has dramatically helped my balance. Also when sparring my balance is challenged a great deal. Getting punched or kicked while kicking back requires impeccable balance. There are so many scenarios where you can be knocked over in kickboxing. We work on balance a lot just to stay upright!

As a former gymnast i have always been looking for new ways to challenge my balance, and this has proven to be an exceptional way to work on it!  Another unexpected byproduct of kickboxing has been increased flexibility. It goes hand in hand with core and balance but training such kicks as head kicks has dramatically improved my flexibility as well!.

MENTAL BENEFITS OF KICKBOXING:

Mental Toughness: Mental toughness is built by trials, errors and failures. Its acheived by directly facing your fears,staring them down and believing in yourself to achieve goals. I will sound like i’m repeating myself in my self esteem and facing fears paragraphs but they really are very similar.

I can’t even describe that feeling when you have finally figured out a combo or landed a kick you’ve been struggling to do. Its a feeling of well deserved accomplishment to climb that mountain of skills you’ve put your blood sweat and tears into and come out on top. I’m not going to lie there are tears and frustrations along the way, but overcoming these is what makes a person strong mentally. If you can be mentally tough you are ready for anything life throws at you.

Quick Decision Making: you have arms and legs flying at you everywhere you learn how to think fast. You learn excellent hand eye coordination and it works your brain! Mental acuity is essential as you start to grow older. It defends against such diseases such as Alzheimers. Thinking quick is also beneficial in the real world too for making important on your feet decisions.

Conquering Fears: I was scared to death at my first class when they mentioned the word sparring. People are going to be hitting me! in the face! Slowly you suck it up and by realizing you have the proper safety equipment and you are learning skills and defensive moves. Then you start realizing you are less afraid of being pummeled to death and thats when you start really enjoying the sport.

I think the first time i got hit in the face and survived i realized, OK this isn’t so bad. I’m tougher than i thought i was! Trust me once you conquer the fear of getting hit and kicked it translates to more than just kickboxing. It translates into real life where you now are more willing to try new things because you aren’t afraid of anything!

Self Esteem: A balance of self esteem is the holy grail of being a human. Some have too much some  don’t have enough. Kickboxing teaches you to believe in yourself and your abilities through hard work. Through trial and error through failure and success. Its definitely a process getting there., however looking  back and see how far i have come has definitely helped my self esteem. It helps you keep it in check too (pardon the pun)

You will have amazingly awesome days and days where you take 3 steps backwards. Its the entire process of learning that is a huge boost to your self esteem. After awhile you do believe that you can truly try and do anything!

Social Benefits: i know you are thinking kickboxing! The people are so violent and have way too much testosterone!  How can i ever punch and kick people and be punched and kicked by people and be friends friends with them at the same time? Our dojo motto says it all “leave your ego at the door”  the people you train with become very important to your well being. People who train are serious about learning and passing on their knowledge.

I have never walked into a more welcoming accepting place in my life because i instantly had something in common with my training partners. The desire to learn this sport.  My training partners have become a family to me. They have all gone through the same training so they know how hard it is and are there to boost you up when you are doubting yourself or have had a bad day. They are there to celebrate with you when you finally mastered that combo or had an “on” day This is truly an amazing experience in this respect

Stress Release:  Had a bad day at work? Did sitting in traffic make you super cranky today? Wanna get away from the kids for some YOU time? Did your husband just say that dress makes you look fat? Instead of internalizing it or taking it out on others kickboxing is THE perfect outlet for letting out any anger or stress from the day. There is no other feeling than stepping up to that heavy bag and “putting a face on it” you can punch and kick out anything and everything!

Well, you get the picture! kickboxing is an amazing sport with excellent benefits! Time to get ready to glove up! There is no excuse not to try kickboxing! it will make you look good and you will feel even better!

Selecting A Fitness Gym

Happy New Year!!

Congratulations! You have made the resolution to start exercising! But where should you start? If you have already decided a fitness gym is for you ,hopefully this blog will help you with key points to consider when choosing the right gym for you!

THINGS TO CONSIDER:

MOTIVATION: The first thing you may want to figure out is, what motivates you?  Why are you wanting to workout?. What are you looking for in a workout ? What are your goals? Your main goal could be anything from losing weight to  improving your overall fitness to improving in a sport, Maybe your motivation is to try that one thing you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t.  You know that dance class you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid to do? Do it!  trust me if its something that interests you, you are more likely to stick with it! Discuss your motivations with your potential gym or fitness instructor to see if they will be able to help you reach your goals

Choosing the right gym for you will make you reach your goals faster.If are you social and like others to workout with you or help push you in a class, a gym with group exercise classes may be for you. If you rather workout on your own and don’t need all the bells and whistles, then a smaller gym with just exercise equipment may be for you. Do you prefer one on one attention? then search for gyms that offer personal training or private lessons. If you are a person who needs constant change a larger gym which offers a lot more variety may be for you.The examples of motivations are endless.  Whatever your motivations are, ask yourself, will this gym help me obtain my goals?

LOCATION and HOURS: These two considerations are probably the most important things you will want to think about. Location, Location, Location! you may have heard this chant before when it comes to real estate, The same holds true for your gym .Location  is a huge factor when choosing a gym.The general rule is closer the better.Of course don’t settle for a gym that doesn’t work for you because its in your back yard, however the further you are away from your gym, the easier it is to talk yourself out of going on days you are tired or in bad weather or after a long day at work etc etc…(we’ve all been there !) The more you talk yourself out of going, the more you skip and soon enough you find yourself not going altogether. The same thing can be said for the hours of the gym. you may have found the perfect gym, but if it doesn’t work with your personal schedule, you’ll never go, so check the hours carefully! If you have a set schedule this is easy, if your schedule is constantly changing try for a gym that is open 24 hours or has something offered both day and night.

TYPES OF EXERCISES AND AMENITIES OFFERED:  This goes hand in hand with motivation. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t ? do you like to dance? Maybe find a dance class or a dance fitness class. Did you just watch that MMA fight and think ” Hey!  I want to do that!” Find a kickboxing class or Martial arts dojo. If you don’t want to train for a specific sport, but want the same physical and mental benefits find a gym that offers cardio versions of these classes. (for example cardio kickboxing)

Gyms can offer anywhere  from simple  free weights to offering classes, exercise equipment, juice bars ,spas, basketball courts,tracks and pools. They can also  be for very specific audiences  like offering just yoga or dance or martial art focused workouts. Find out what motivates you  and what you can  see yourself doing a year from now. If the thought of walking on a treadmill for an hour is unbearable then don’t join a gym that only has treadmills. Sounds simple but many people join a gym because its the one their friend joined and although its an awesome idea to workout with a friend sometime what works for your friend may not be what works for you. Your gym should suit your personality!

COST: One of the most common questions asked is how much does it cost?  Typically the more extras a gym has the more you will pay. Some gyms have a straight membership fee with classes included.Others charge extra for classes or personal training to keep the basic membership costs down. Gym costs can  run anywhere from free (yes i said free!) to hundreds of dollars. Some gyms have advertised prices and some don’t and if they do have an advertised price, ask what this price includes! Don’t be afraid to call or stop in, most gyms are very happy to give you a free tour! (and if they aren’t, run!!!!)

The majority of  gyms rely on memberships. Sometimes signing up for a longer term membership (2 years versus 1 year) will discount the monthly price.  Find out if your place of employment offers a discount for gym memberships. Many companies offer a wellness credit to help with your membership but may be specific to certain gyms. Memberships are excellent for the type of person who likes to workout often.

Other places may use a punch card system. A sort of pay as you go option. This option is usually better for those who may not want to or  be able to commit to a yearly membership or work out as often. Some places offer sessions, for example a 6 week class for a set price. Some places may have tiered or packaged memberships ( basic, silver, gold or something to that effect )these types of memberships increase in price as more options are included, kind of like your cable bill.

If you have found a gym but the price seems overwhelming ask about possibilities of reducing your membership fees. Some ways of doing this may be by asking if they are hiring for tasks such as washing towels or front desk support in exchange for a free or reduced membership. Do you have instructor training  or another service you think you can offer in trade?  It never hurts to ask if you can teach a class or two or maybe even write for their website!  Many gym owners will work with you to keep you as a member!

You are now ready to grab your water bottle and towel! Now you are ready to take that all important first step into a gym!  Hopefully you have more of an idea as to how to find the  fitness gym thats right for you. Don’t be afraid to do your homework and  shop around! A gym is a well deserved commitment that you are making to yourself!. Make sure it suits your lifestyle, your schedule, your needs and your personality!

Here’s to achieving your fitness goals in 2014!!