Physical Training Jan 2001

"Punch Up" Your Classes!

by Bill Whedon (copyright 2001, Bill Whedon)
Although not quite as new and trendy as "Spinning" or "Crew" classes, both "Boxaerobics" and "Kick-Boxaerobics" offer both the participant and the instructor some considerable challenges.  However, it sometimes seems as if all the class wants is "Step, Step, and More Step!!".  Here's a way to give 'em what they ask for, while incorporating high-energy, low-impact movement in kick-boxing fashion.

Begin by getting the class in an alternate-knee-up action on the bench.  Then have them make fists, and go into a "defense" position, with arms pressed forward, fists at chin level, and elbows together.  The rest of the moves start from there.  Make sure your participants know that they must not put full force into punches or kicks, but to press the arm or leg forward, and bring it back to rest in a controlled motion.  This is both safe, and much more intense than the usual explosive motion of a terminated kick or punch.  Keep them concentrating on form!  All punches return to the "defense" position.

Punches --

Move 1:  Alternate punches across.  Left knee lift, left arm punches forward.  Alternate.


Move 2:  Alternate uppercuts.  Right knee lift, left arm drops and lifts in uppercut punch.  Note:  it is possible for the participant to strike him/herself in the chin with this one (no kidding!  I've seen one guy literally knock himself off the bench!)  Be sure to warn them to keep their hands away from the face!

Upper Cut

Move 3:  High single-arm sweeping block.  Either alternate or same-side-as-knee.  Elbow rises to level with the shoulder, fist and forearm point straight up, and the arm swings outward from center at the shoulder level.

Side Block

Move 4:  High double-arm sweeping block (I call this one the "Jackie Chan").  Same as 3, but with both arms moving to the sides.  Go until you feel the pecs stretch.

Double Arm Block

Move 5:  High double-arm elbow block (I call it "Bruce Lee").  Same as 4, but the fist and forearm rotate down to the level of the shoulder, and both elbows are pressed back to strike an imaginary pair of opponents behind.

High Elbow Block

Kicks --
For all kicks, arms remain in the "defense" position.  Remind your participants that the legs reach farther than the arms, so punches are wasted motion.  Holding the arms and fists up becomes quite an isometric chore, as well!

Move 1:  Forward kick - dorsiflex the foot and press the heel directly to the front instead of a knee-up.  The height of the kick depends on the participant's individual abilities and desires.  Demo the kick at knee, waist, and head height.  Be sure to warn your class to make the motion smooth, and to return under control.

High Forward KickLow Forward Kick

Move 2:  Side kick - dorsiflex the foot, lean the upper body slightly to the side opposite the kick, and press the heel out at the desired height.  Demo low, medium, and high.  Again, be sure the participants are not making explosive moves.

High Side KickLow Side Kick

Move 3:  Stomp (rearward) kick - dorsiflex the foot, and press the leg straight to the rear as if stomping on the foot of an attacker behind.  The same cautions as 1 and 2 apply.

Back Stomp

Summing it all up --
These moves add intensity and a bit of "martial arts" look to step classes.  They aren't by any means a substitute for real martial arts or defense training, but some participants will inevitably find them attractive, and possibly pursue the real thing.  Even for those who don't, the experience is quite intense and rewarding.

You might wish to experiment with light (1 - 3 lb.) weights, once your participants are no longer likely to "throw" punches, and are observed to maintain good form.  They can add a bit of additional intensity to the moves.  I absolutely forbid hand weights in excess of 5 pounds in my classes, even for the big guys - just too much chance of joint injury if they get carried away.

Many thanks to Jonquil for taking the time to put up with my photographic ineptitude, and doing everything fifty times so I'd get it right!

Bill Whedon is the owner of World Fitness. He has been a Certified Personal Trainer since 1994. He presently teaches aerobics at several sites, trains individuals who have a need but little money, and programs computers for a living. Bill lives in Lawson, MO.
This article was previously published at the World Fitness Organization website:
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 Physical Training Jan 2001