Cardio kickboxing is a group fitness class that combines martial arts techniques with fast-paced cardio. This high-energy workout challenges the beginner and elite athlete alike. Build stamina, improve coordination and flexibility, and burn calories as you build lean muscle with this fun and challenging workout.

What Is It?

An experienced instructor leads cardio kickboxing class by demonstrating choreographed movements of punches, kicks, and knee strikes set to fast-paced music. Cardio kickboxing combinations are a mix of punches like:

  • jabs
  • crosses
  • hooks
  • uppercuts

Lower body movements include:

  • knee strikes
  • front kicks
  • roundhouse kicks
  • side kicks
  • back kicks

Classes also incorporate a warmup and cool down and both dynamic and static stretching. Often, there is a brief segment specifically for core exercises like crunches and planking. Typical cardio kickboxing classes run from 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the gym or studio.

Despite the name, cardio kickboxing is a noncontact workout. All punches and kicks are thrown into the air or onto pads. It’s a high-energy workout that can burn between 350 and 450 calories an hour, according to the American Council on Exercise. Your elevated heart rate moves into in an intense zone in which cardiovascular conditioning takes place.

Feel the Burn
Cardio kickboxing can burn between 350 and 450 calories per hour.

This has a positive impact on your heart. Cardio conditioning can help you have a daily calorie deficit, allowing for fat loss. This loss may include the belly fat that can be so difficult to lose. Excess belly fat has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.

A cardio kickboxing class will challenge your technique, endurance, and above all, concentration. Half the battle is mental — you need to focus on the individual movements that make up a combination.

Who Should Do It?

Cardio kickboxing is a good fitness choice for those looking to burn calories for weight loss, or to improve stamina and heart health. People who become easily bored with stationary cardio equipment like treadmills and stair steppers will enjoy the fast pace and new movements in a cardio kickboxing class.

You don’t need any martial arts or boxing experience to take a cardio kickboxing class. Everyone is welcome.

Cardio kickboxing is considered a low- or high-impact, high-intensity workout. Beginners are advised to begin slowly. Listen to your body and take water breaks when you need them. Work your way up to exercising at full intensity.

It’s normal to become frustrated if you’re having trouble keeping up. But don’t quit. Even if you are unable to follow the instructor’s movements exactly, keep moving to enjoy the benefits of this physical activity. With practice and patience, you will improve.

What Can I Expect?

At a cardio kickboxing class, you can expect a full-body workout that engages every muscle group in your body, with a strong focus on your core. The rapid movements in cardio kickboxing also improve flexibility, balance, and coordination, and can help you build faster reflexes.

Cardio kickboxing is an effective way to relieve stress and frustration. It releases hormones that improve your mood and block feelings of pain (endorphins). According to a study conducted by researchers at Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, group exercise enhances the effects of endorphins. In addition, working out with a group has an accountability factor and fosters a healthy sense of competition.

Regularly attending cardio kickboxing classes will increase your energy levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity has been shown to boost energy because your heart and lungs perform more efficiently. Regular exercise like cardio kickboxing also improves your mood, helps you fall asleep faster, and helps you get better quality sleep.

How Should I Begin?

Look for cardio kickboxing classes at a martial arts studio in your area. Many gyms also offer cardio kickboxing classes.

For your first class, make sure to do the following:

  • Wear comfortable workout clothing and athletic shoes. Some gyms give you the option of taking class in bare feet.
  • Bring water and a small towel.
  • Arrive a few minutes early to sign any necessary paperwork before class.
  • Try to find a spot in the middle, near the back. Instructors often move around during class, and different combinations may have you turning in different directions. You’ll want someone in front of you at all times so you can follow along.

To enjoy the ongoing health benefits of a group fitness class like cardio kickboxing, look for a 30 to 60 minute class that you can attend on a consistent basis, for example three times every week.