Get hooked: 6 reasons you should take up fighting classes
It goes without saying that we all love to look and feel great. But what makes getting in shape even more satisfying is when we can kick butt while doing it.
Fighting classes may well conjure images of nosebleeds, gum shields and aggressive instructors - but don’t let your judgement be clouded by stereotypes. Martial arts and boxing have stepped away from the gritty, concrete spaces, into fun, friendly classes with something for everyone.
Believe it or not, much of the benefits fighting sports bring don’t actually have much to do with fighting at all. Instead, swinging a fist brings a vast and diverse set of advantages to both health and wellbeing.
#1 Blitzes calories
According to Nutristrategy, one hour of martial arts such as judo, karate, kickboxing or jiu jitsu can burn more than 590 calories an hour, depending on your weight and the intensity of the workout.
Boxing is mainly anaerobic exercise - short, intense workouts that use up oxygen fast, in the same vein as HIIT (high intensity interval training). Building your body’s tolerance to anaerobic exercise increases endurance and metabolism, increasing the amount of oxygen you use during a workout - in turn making you fitter.
#2 Controls stress
No, we’re not talking about a Rocky-style strapping-on of gloves and going to town on a heavy bag (although it is surprisingly therapeutic). Martial arts focuses on ending conflict, rather than punching it to oblivion. The Japanese character for martial arts is bushi, literally ‘breaking the spear’.
After a stressful day at work, or an hour stuck in traffic, a good dose of martial arts can put you in control, give you greater focus and calm the mind while training.
#3 Boosts total-body strength
Fear not, fighting sports will not give you Schwarzenegger-like biceps. In fact, the repetitiveness of the moves results in toning, rather than muscle building. All that jumping, kicking and punching requires a great deal of strength, which not only works out your upper and lower body but also engages your core. Bodycombat classes - the more aerobic-friendly version of martial arts - can also incorporate squats, pushups, and planks in high-speed circuit workouts.
#4 Builds confidence
Life is full of challenges: martial arts and other fighting sports teach us how to survive mental and physical pain - as well as exhaustion. The tidal wave of endorphins after doing pad work with a partner can give a massive sense of wellbeing, while martials arts such as Muay Thai give you the confidence of self-defence.
#5 Helps heart health
Fighting classes such as boxing can keep you healthier for longer. A good boxing session boosts the rate your heart pumps blood around your body, in turn powering your heart’s muscles and cutting your chances of developing cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks and strokes. Take that, heart disease!
#6 Improves flexibility
If you’ve ever seen a kung fu movie, you’ll know this one’s right. Jackie Chan might have the benefit of special effects to throw and land the perfect head kick knockout, but it’s also clear he needs to be super flexy. The variety of moves you learn in different martial arts can open up your chest, loosen your hips and hamstrings, lengthen your spine and so much more.
Just like yoga, it takes a great deal of discipline and commitment to land those impressive moves. Once you’re hooked on the classes though, you’ll be dying to master that high kick.