Cardio Kickboxing: Give it a try!

On a scale of one to ten, how ready are you to feel your lungs sweat as much as your forehead?

If you answer anywhere below an 11, try to take one more deep breath before you step in the
doors for a Cardio Kickboxing class at UVAC.

I’ve been working out by swimming or running using UVAC’s amazing facilities. All of it self-led, of course. I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to doing what works for my body and slowly building up stamina plus strength over time. But my ability to actually push myself was dwindling. I had found a comfort zone in my swimming to treadmill and/or elliptical routine. Could it be time for a class? I decided, unequivocally, yes. Someone else to tell me what to do, to push me, to pick the music…all I would have to do was follow along. Easy enough. Right?

I walked in and was directed toward the room where I could get started. I pulled out a mat, set my water bottle down, and stretched while others trickled in around me. When the instructor, Darcy Pooler arrived, a pump-up playlist started to go – early 2000s mixed with 80s power rock anthems, and my muscles felt ready to move right away.

Now, as soon as we got started, I noticed that there was no hiding. The instructor got our names, made eye contact with each one of us…and that was when I knew I would be called out if I tried anything except my best. With the caveat of remembering to listen to my body and continually hydrate, we got started. I felt really comfortable being a newbie to this class. The others were experienced and had been there before, at least once or twice, but I just read the word Cardio Kickboxing on my UVAC app and thought…why not.

My lack of experience was a point of anxiety, but all the same, quickly resolved. I was shown not only the proper moves themselves, guided through how to follow through each swing and jab, but also shown easier ways if I needed to. In that way, it was incredibly accessible and perfectly tailored to what I needed in that moment.

The intensity varied; like most classes, there was a peak about three quarters of the way through, but there were waves throughout. We started out slow with a warm-up, then did three sets of varying difficulties and involvements, the last being the most intense. When we started out, I thought to myself, “Oh, yeah, this is great! This will be smooth sailing!”

As I jabbed and swung, uppercut and kicked, I began to sweat…and sweat…and sweat some more. With speedy, frequent, water bottle breaks between rounds from start to finish, I was always moving. And frankly, that was my favorite part! In order for cardio to work – in order for cardio to be cardio, we have to keep bouncing on the balls of our feet, or swinging our arms. It was almost like a very sweaty, very (un)coordinated dance. I could feel all of the oxygen enter my lungs, just as I could feel the sweat trickling down my back. My muscles tingled with a feeling we all know when we think about working out – not strained or in pain, but rather sore and inexplicably good.

Overall, the Cardio Kickboxing class really surprised me. It pushed me to limits I didn’t know I had, while never making me uncomfortable. I was continuously encouraged to listen to my body and take breaks, but also reminded to not stop moving, and to really push myself just one extra step when I thought I couldn’t go any further.

The lasting confidence and sudden bicep growth have me convinced: this class is definitely a repeat.

By OK Stevens

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