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Fighting fit
Students at Ozone practise Krav Maga punches with trainer Udit Bagga.Pic by Rupinder Sharma

If running on the treadmill or pumping iron at the gym is getting monotonous, then how about kicking and punching your way to fitness? To break the tedium of machine exercises, fitness experts and gyms have introduced combat regimes including Krav Maga, kickboxing and Les Mills’ BodyCombat programmes to their list of offerings.

“These are fun ways to tone the muscles and shed weight while one also picks up some combat moves,” says Leena Mogre, director of Leena Mogre Fitness Academy.

Krav Maga, the Israeli self-defence system, is popular at Solace.Pic by Rashbehari Das

Krav Maga, the military hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel, is flourishing at Calcutta’s Solace gym. Conducted twice a week, the gym also organises special classes for children on Sundays where they are taught self-defence moves.

Similarly, at Ozone in Delhi you’ll find the Krav Maga class packed with students throwing punches in the air and sometimes kicking punching bags. Says instructor Udit Bagga: “Krav Maga is about exploiting the natural reflexes of the body and gearing up to face any form of attack.”

Every Krav Maga session at Ozone begins with a warm-up drill. For about 15 minutes, the students jog around a room and then punch and kick punching bags. Bagga then teaches the students to deal with situations like knife attacks or hostage situations. He instructs them on how to fling punches, hammer-fists (a strike with the bottom of a clenched fist) and elbow and knee strikes.

Master trainer Toni Giannini of Celebrity Fitness demonstrates a BodyCombat stance.Pic by Jagan Negi

“Krav Maga is a great workout but the techniques also help one escape from terror situations,” says Bagga.

Gyms like Delhi’s Fitness First and Celebrity Fitness in Gurgaon are action-packed, martial arts venues. The BodyCombat programme is a huge hit at both these gyms.

“Inspired by martial arts, BodyCombat is a cardio workout packed with elements from karate, boxing, Taekwondo, Tai Chi and Muay Thai (a Thai sport which is similar to boxing but also allows strikes with the feet, elbows and knees),” says C. J. Saurez, instructor, Fitness First.

BodyCombat — which looks more like a well-choreographed dance class — is popular with students who enjoy sweating it out with steps matched to perky music that’s specially customised for the classes.

At Fitness First, a BodyCombat session begins with a warm-up session that includes a variety of moves like jabs, punches and kicking techniques taken from karate, boxing, Taekwondo, Tai Chi and Muay Thai. Says Saurez: “In a single class you can burn about 500 to 800 calories depending on how much effort you put into the workout.”

Students sweating it out at a BodyCombat session at Fitness First.Pic by Rupinder Sharma

The 55-minute workout includes 10 tracks (or music scores). The first track is designed for the warm-up session, while the second, fourth and sixth tracks are played when the upper and lower body is being worked out (for the lower body you do back kicks, front kicks, side kicks and rotation of the legs while for upper body you do punches and jabs).

The third, fifth and eighth tracks are for high intensity workouts. The seventh track is mainly Muay Thai steps while the ninth focuses on abdominal training. The session ends on the tenth track, which is a winding down track meant for stretching exercises.

Trainer C.J. Saurez demonstrates a move

“To keep it exciting for students, the programme is changed and redesigned every three months with new music and choreography,” says Saurez.

According to master trainer Toni Giannini of Celebrity Fitness, BodyCombat is a great cardiovascular workout. “Not only does it improve the heart and lung functions, it also reduces the risk of heart disease,” he says.

If kickboxing is your idea of exercising and de-stressing, then check out Leena Mogre’s kickboxing classes. Her sessions are all about martial arts-style kicks and boxing-style punches. She says a one-hour session alone can burn about 600 calories. Her 10-minute warm-up session includes jogging, shuttle run, slow kicks and some stretch exercises.

The class is instructed on how to hurl jabs (straight punches from the front hand to either the head or the body), cross (a powerful punch which comes from the momentum of turning hips), hook (rounded punch) and an uppercut (rising punch striking the chin).

While the kicking part includes front kicks (striking face-on with the heel of the foot), side kick (striking with the side or heel of the foot), roundhouse kicks which means striking with the front of the foot and semi- circular kick (45° roundhouse kick).

The experts offer some tips to observe as one embarks on these programmes: Since these classes are high intensity, they can safely be practised three times a week while one can continue with the regular gym workout on the other days of the week.       

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