Kickboxing – Urban Sport of the Week

Each week we send a member of the USC team to try a new activity so you know exactly what to expect. However this week we did not expect to be lamped around the head and called “grandma” by Muhammad Ali’s ex-bodyguard…

What is Kickboxing?

Kickboxing is a high contact sport that is characterised by the fact that fighters use their feet as well as their fists to combat their opponent. A kickboxing class will incorporate intense fitness and cardio with sparring so it’s great self-defence and fitness training.

What can you expect?

Legends Club is in Berlin’s Schöneberg district. The fight and boxing academy is high-end and offers a range of fitness and fight classes. The reception area is decked out with posters of fighters and boxing gloves framed on the wall. The gym area has punch bags, padding, a weights area and a giant tyre lying on the floor.

Our trainer and the owner of Legends, Ahmed Mohammed, met us on the gym floor and introduced himself with a bone-crushing handshake and a punch in the ribs. I think it was meant to be playful but I was winded for a few seconds. Then he slapped a young man round the back of the head and shouted “TEN PRESS-UPS. NOW.”

How was the workout?

We warmed up with high-knees at break-neck speed, then sit-ups and more press-ups. Mohammed laid out some black boxes of varying heights and said “you start with this one, Grandma” and pointed at the lowest box.

We lunged on the box until he said “SWITCH” and then moved to a different height. After lunges we did box jumps – my legs felt like they were on fire. Then, as I was about to jump on a box, Mohammed screamed in my face and slammed his hands on the box for no apparent reason. I was so shocked I yelped and fell over. As punishment everyone in the class had to do 10 press ups. “Everyone say thanks to Grandma” Mohammed said.

Then we kicked our legs as high as we could in a straight line. Mohammed put his arms out almost to the level of my head and demanded I kick them. I couldn’t reach so everyone had to do 10 sit-ups.

Still on the warm up, we did Spiderman planks as fast as possible why Mohammad shouted numbers out at random. I didn’t know what the numbers meant, but what I did know that I was staring into the very depths of hell and it hadn’t even been 30 minutes.

After our warm up Mohammed cuffed me round the head and said “well done, Grandma”. Then he threw me some gloves and paired me up with another girl who looked just as shell-shocked. We were assigned a punching bag and each time Mohammed yelled we punched. If one of us wasn’t on time we had to do ten sit-ups.

I really enjoyed this part. I could feel all the stress melting away every time I hit the bag. Afterwards we practiced sparring in our pairs, hitting each other’s gloves in a variation of sequences. If you didn’t keep up with your partner they would lamp you in the face, so there wasn’t much choice but to stay in time.

We practised several variations of sequences, including one where we took it in turns to punch each other in the stomach. At first it was awful but I quickly learnt to brace my abs to minimise the pain. Finally we had to punch each other’s gloves so fast for such a long time that I thought both me and my partner might pass out. “Good work grandma!” Mohammed yelled encouragingly.

Then came a set of hellish sit-ups and press-ups where we were expected to clap in between each one. I was absolutely done by this point and kept face-planting onto the mat.

Then, finally, we stood in a line and did some deep breathing exercises. Mohammed high-fived us all and the 90 minute class was finally over.

How did I feel after?

I sweated so much during the class that I had to drink water constantly over the next couple of days so as not to feel dehydrated.

Directly afterwards I felt exhausted but super energised. I was also ravenous as I’d burned so many calories doing straight 90 minutes of cardio and bodyweight training.

The next day everything ached – especially my abs from the relentless sit-ups.

Benefits of Kickboxing

As well as a great cardio workout, kickboxing is a fantastic stress-buster

Kickboxing will improve your coordination as you kick and punch in sequences that require balance

It’s great for your energy levels as your adrenaline keeps pumping long after the workout is over

You can burn over 800 calories in a 90 minute class. This is a lot of calories so make sure you eat well to make up the energy afterwards!

Don’t forget to bring…

You need a thick skin, both figuratively and literally, and a sense of humour for Mohammed’s class – and as much water as you can carry. If you have your own boxing gloves then bring those. If not Legends Club provides all the gear you need.

Urban Sports Club has plenty of martial arts partners in Germany, Italy and France.

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