"I've seen Tae Bo and cardio-kickboxing classes, and it usually involves a lot of bouncing," he said. "Sure you lose fat, but it hurts the knees. To really understand the movements, you have to understand yourself and the science."
Kickboxing is a mix of Eastern martial arts kicks and Western boxing punches, Thomas said. A life-long martial arts instructor, Thomas teaches kickboxing classes at Thomas Martial Arts and Fitness Academy where he focuses on teaching students form and technique, instead turning kickboxing into "just an aerobics class." And that's why most people who take kickboxing like it--because they learn defense moves while also getting in shape.
"Just having the ability to hit properly and knowing how to use your hands and feet is a huge advantage," said Gordon Jue, owner and instructor of Jue's Tae Kwon Do studio. Jue's studio offers a variety of martial arts classes and kickboxing is one on the list. "I also teach a self-defense class. When kickboxing students come to that class they do fairly well, compared to those who don't have training. It's empowering for them in that they know how hard they can kick and punch somebody."
Both Thomas and Jue said their classes range from 15-20 people each week and there are many dedicated students who have been coming for years.
Darlene Deddow, 52, started taking kickboxing classes at Thomas' studio nearly six years ago after semi-retiring from a sales position.
"I decided I had the time to take care of myself, so I joined a local gym and found (Thomas') classes were the most challenging," she said. "It's an overall good workout, so when you leave, you feel good that you've done an hour of a pretty strenuous workout." Darlene, who also cares for her father, said while she enjoys kickboxing's physical benefits, it also serves as a great stress reliever.
Jue said many students may gravitate toward kickboxing instead of regular martial arts because it is a little bit more relaxed and fun.
"Where our traditional martial arts classes are more military like--'Yes, sir, no sir'--kickboxing is more like being on a first-name basis," he said. "It is high energy, we play music, and it is fun."
Although the majority of Jue and Thomas' students are women, Thomas said he sees students from all ages, genders and professions--there is even a pastor in one of his classes.
"I don't pick the demographics, the demographics pick me," Thomas said. "The main thing I want is results-oriented people. My job is to correct form and facilitate improvement, because if you just keep doing the same thing you won't grow. I push my students to their reasonable limits and then push them beyond." <