Did you know that many professional athletes use cardio kickboxing to stay in shape? Not only does this sport increase cardiovascular health, but also it can be used to supplement martial arts training. Cardio kickboxing combines the movement and energy of boxing, aerobics and martial arts, all in one exercise program. No pulled punches If you are looking for a high-intensity workout, cardio kickboxing might be the perfect form of exercise for you. Repetition, strength and flexibility are all hallmarks of this activity. According to a study published by the American Council on Exercise, cardio kickboxing practitioners can expect to burn an average of 350-450 calories per hour. What does this mean for the exercise enthusiast? Simply put, cardio kickboxing can increase the rate at which you lose weight, keep your heart rate in the target zone for aerobic workouts, and meet your fitness goals without you having to pursue numerous forms of exercise. In fact, if you are overweight or out of shape, you might be able to burn 500-800 calories per hour. You’ll find that cardio kickboxing is in many ways safer than full-contact martial arts training. Most classes will provide you with protective gear and a punching bag, though some courses are taught with no additional equipment. You don’t have to worry about hurting yourself or others with this type of exercise. Many people choose to do it in their own living rooms. Know your strength Cardio kickboxing isn’t for everyone. If you do not currently work out or if you have illnesses or injuries that limit your ability to exercise, you might need to work up to this type of activity. High-impact movements such as kicking and punching present a greater risk of injury to muscles, joints and ligaments. Before you start a cardio kickboxing regimen, take the time to evaluate your current physical condition. Are you able to easily climb several flights of stairs? Can you walk briskly for up to an hour at a time without pausing to rest? If not, you might start with a lower-impact exercise routine and work up to cardio kickboxing. Finding a class Although there are plenty of cardio kickboxing tapes and DVDs on the market, it is better to take a class than to learn at home. In a class, you have the opportunity to ask questions and receive one-on-one instruction whenever necessary. Plus, cardio kickboxing is more fun when you do it with others. The students of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, Calif., enjoy cardio kickboxing classes for free. This type of class is available at many universities across America and provides an easy way for students and faculty to stay in shape. If you are not in school, you can easily find a class in your town. Check your local YMCA, fitness centers and even yoga studios for class schedules. There also are private instructors who rent community space or who teach out of their own homes. Anyone who wants to try cardio kickboxing should be able to find a class that suits them. When signing up for classes, make sure you choose one that will meet your needs. A beginner’s course, for example, is best for people who have not taken part in an exercise program before or who consider themselves out of shape. Look for small cardio kickboxing classes where one-on-one instruction is offered. You should know that all cardio kickboxing workouts are not the same. Make sure that your instructor is certified for maximum benefits. Learning this activity from someone who isn’t certified or knowledgeable could potentially do more harm than good. Don’t be shy about asking for credentials. Take-home kickboxing Some people are not comfortable exercising in front of others, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a cardio kickboxing workout. Although you lose the benefits of having an instructor to answer your questions, cardio kickboxing DVDs are available in spades and may be the better choice for you. It can be difficult to find a cardio kickboxing DVD that will meet all of your needs. For one thing, they might be marketed under different names. Kickboxercise, Cardio Kick, Cardio Circuit and other names are commonly used to brand a particular organization or instructor. Don’t let these names confuse you. Look for cardio kickboxing used in the product description when you peruse your options. Tips for success After you’ve found a cardio kickboxing DVD or class, prepare yourself for the first workout. Purchase clothes that are appropriate for this activity such as a loose-fitting shirt and exercise shorts. You will want to arm yourself with plenty of water, and remember that using items such as weights can actually be damaging in a cardio kickboxing workout. Your first session will include a warm-up followed by 15-60 minutes of high-impact cardiovascular exercise. Repetition of punches and kicks will help you develop proper technique and the constant motion will keep your heart beating 70-85 beats per minute. Start with a short class, in the 20-30 minute range, then work up to longer exercise routines. It isn’t necessary to keep up with everyone else in your class; just focus on your own fitness goals. If you find that you enjoy cardio kickboxing, you can sign up for longer classes and progress to more difficult movements.