Fighting Off the Freshman 15 With Kickboxing


Kickboxing is a fun way to lose pounds and stress. (Photo courtesy of Edyk Jeffry /ILoveKickboxing)
Kickboxing is a fun way to lose pounds and stress. (Photo courtesy of Edyk Jeffry / ILoveKickboxing)

I swore to myself I would not be the typical college student. I would not lose my pretentious, paleo eating habits. I would not lose my religious running regime. And I would surely not succumb to the freshmen fifteen. 

Two years of college later, full of all-nighters, balancing work and school, I added a couple more shameless pounds than the typical fifteen. Looking to stay out of the bitter cold and away from our out-of-date and over-crowded fitness center, I decided to sign up for kickboxing. I have a lot of feelings to unleash on the bag, so I figured I’d knock out two birds with one punch. I stumbled upon ILoveKickboxing’s special for five classes, a pair of free gloves for $29.99 and got started. 

I showed up perhaps with too much time to spare before my first class. I grew more and more intimidated as I wandered around the mats looking at the stern “No talking during class” signs and silent instructor behind the desk. 

As soon as the clock hit 3:00 p.m. it was time to get started. The instructor Edyk Jeffry, also known as E.J., wasn’t going to hold anyone’s hand. “If you can’t handle this warm-up, I suggest you leave now,” he said over the blasting music-which was anything from Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” to hardcore rap remixes. 

The weight of the gloves took some getting used too as I pounded out countless push-ups, jumping-jacks and punching combos. Did he just say jab, cross, swivel, double left side kick, switch, back kick?  I’m a few more classes in and can confidently say that remembering the combinations comes with focus and a little time. Although, making contact on the bag with my back kick seems to need a lot more time and practice. 

While E.J. and other instructors might add a touch of tough coach banter to motivate us during the class, he is adamant that “anyone can kickbox.” The lean fighting machine picked up the sport five years ago and lost 45 pounds. “I was an unconfident kid and now I’m a trainer, one of the best in New York I would say,” E.J. said. 

According to E.J., depending on the level of effort a student puts in, you can expect to burn anywhere from 600 to 800 calories in a class. At my 5-foot-6-inch height and weight which will not be mentioned, I would have to jog for over an hour and a half to achieve the same calorie deficit, according to the HealthStatus Calories Burned Estimator. 

There is no secret to kickboxing. As E.J. says, “You come in, learn the moves, show up and get the results.” 

The history of kickboxing dates as far back as 2,000 years ago in Far East Asia, where Muay Thai kickboxing was the popular self-defense practice, according to A Brief History of Kickboxing found on Columbia University’s Kickboxing club webpage.

How is this sport different from other martial arts practices? It’s all in the technique, according to E.J. Take for example, T’ai-chi, an internal Chinese martial art, compared to kickboxing. “You’re more grappling in T’ai-chi and getting the other person to use their energy against themselves,” he said. “While in kickboxing, it’s more striking with our hands and limbs,” he continued. “Kickboxing is more ‘I’m gonna hurt you.’”

While I by no means believe I could hurt anyone with my off balance back-kick, I can say that I already feel less stressed by the hustle and bustle of the city and am sleeping better at night. At this gym, there is no time to compare yourself to anyone else in the class. It’s just you, the bag and a lot of sweat. 

ILoveKickboxing has three locations in Manhattan, one on 35th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, which is not too far from our Lincoln Center campus.