It’s Tuesday night on the Augustana campus and dozens of people are filing into the wrestling room of the Elmen Center. Inside, the song “Alone” by Marshmello crackles on the stereo in the room signaling the start of warm-ups. People start to move and prepare for kickboxing.
Cardio kickboxing is an activity slowly starting to gain traction and popularity around the United States. Augustana has a cardio kickboxing fitness group of its own, and the increase in popularity is prominent here, too.
“It’s basically a full-body workout. There’s a lot of lower body being worked with squatting, there’s upper body and arms being worked with punching, and then we always make sure to do an abs workout as well,” said Miranda Sigler, the instructor of the Tuesday night sessions of cardio kickboxing.
Sigler is a junior and has been participating since her freshman year, but this is her first year as the head instructor.
Sigler said that over the years, she’s noticed an increase in participation and students who become regulars. Two years ago, there were 10-12 in the group, last year there were 18 and this year they’ve been close to 30.
“I think that it’s more fun for people to work out in a group just because you’re kind of peer-pressured, in a positive way,” said Sigler. “You want to push yourself more if you see others around you doing the same thing. I think that people also just really like working out to good music.”
Towards the middle of their workout, the students do a mix of punching and kicking, along with some squatting in order to make the most out of a workout.
“We’re almost there! One more song and then we’ll have a water break!” Sigler shouts over the music. A communal sigh of relief is heard. Fifteen minutes into the session, the air is already thick with body odor. Almost everyone in the room is drenched in sweat and beads of sweat drip down their necks.
Freshman Austin Olson likes the exertion and the effort required. He’s new to kickboxing this year.
“It’s pretty challenging,” said Olson. “It may not necessarily seem that way from an outside perspective but that’s probably what I like most—the challenge of it. It pushes me to go past my limits and really makes me feel like I’m improving.”
Kulani Jahrling is also new to this activity but has participated in other cardio activities.
“I really wanted a workout that pushed me like dance used to,” Jahrling said. “I’ve also wanted to try stuff like cardio kickboxing for a while now.”
Back in the wrestling room, Sigler asked, “Alright for our final exercise do we want more abs, more legs, or wall sits?” Hands are raised, the crowd has spoken—more ab exercises. Groans sprout up from a few objectors. They participate regardless, knowing full well that the exhausting exercise is almost finished.
Kickboxing has become more of a common exercise in themainstream United States.
According to Statista.com, 4.8 million people were participating in cardio kickboxing in 2007, but as of last year, that number has increased to 6.9 million.
A recent article from TIME magazine also said “cardio kickboxing classes burn more than eight calories per minute.
“It’s a big stress reliever which I’m sure is a draw.” Olson said. “I suppose word of mouth from social media has helped people become aware as well.”
Sigler also agrees that kickboxing is rising in popularity. She says that she loves it and is looking forward to attending.
“It’s a combination of the music and group setting atmosphere,” Sigler said. “I think that people also like getting into routines like ‘See you next week! Thanks for coming!”
At the end of the session, everyone is drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. They’re tired, but are thinking about how fun the experience was for them.
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