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Features Health & Wellness ‘Kick-start’ a healthier lifestyle with cardio-kickboxing

Instructor Kayla Young (R) works out with kickboxing student Heather Belcher (L).FHS graduate working to ‘kick’ Franklin into shape for the New Year

Everyone who added “start going to the gym” to their long list of New Year’s resolutions knows how hard it is to stay committed to working out throughout the year. Instead of forgetting about this year’s resolution before January is even over, try considering an alternative option to working out.

Kickboxing might be the perfect solution to finding a fun workout that is exciting enough to keep you motivated to remain committed to your resolutions.

After Kayla Young, a Franklin High School graduate, joined Franklin's Body Visions gym, she found herself in a kickboxing class taught under Bryan Pollack. Young immediately fell in love with the sport and became excited about the exercise she got during her workout, without it ever seeming like too much work. “I had never seen a kickboxing class that seemed like so much fun, and the fact that you could actually punch a real person as a target just seemed so awesome to me. So I tried the class and I fell in love with it,” said Young.

Angie Mercier (R) works out with Aise Sutton (L)After taking several classes under Pollack’s direction, Young was approached by the owner of Body Visions gym and was asked if she wanted to take over teaching classes full time. Young accepted and began KnockOut Fitness kickboxing classes.

“I have always been interested in health and helping people get healthy and happy,” Young said. Exercise has been part of my life as long as I can remember. I played tons of sports in high school and my family used to go to the park and play sports all the time,” said Young.

“The happiest times in my life have always been when I was in shape and active. When I am upset or stressed, working out is what makes me happy,” explained Young.

Kickboxing instructor Kayla Young wears protective gear while coaching Sarah Baxter during Tuesday’s class.Aside from being a competition sport, aerobic or cardiovascular (cardio) kickboxing is widely popular in gyms and fitness centers. Cardio kickboxing combines elements of boxing, martial arts, and aerobics to provide overall physical conditioning and toning. “Kickboxing has many aspects and is great for all ages and abilities,” said Young. “All muscle groups are used during class sessions. Cardio rounds help keep the heart strong, while kicking and punching helps improve technique and form.”

According to Young, kickboxing is not just a quick, magic 30-day program to lose weight in a hurry. Instead, it is a fun, easy adjustment that promotes an overall healthier lifestyle. “Exercise and healthy eating must be a lifestyle, not a phase to go through. It’s a way of living,” said Young. “Everyone needs to find something they enjoy and want to continue. This kickboxing class has been a place for fun, friends, stress relief and sweat! We are just there to motivate each other to stay healthy and happy.”

Both men and women of all different ages can benefit from the different skill levels offered through kickboxing. Young and the team at Body Visions work with individuals to stay within their comfort zone and find what level of workout is best for them. “When you first join a class, you have to start out by doing an initial [lesson]. An initial [lesson] shows you the basics. It teaches you how to keep your feet in position and shows you how to throw basic punches and kicks,” explained Young. “Once you get that down you are ready to go. To start class, a timer with two minute rounds is set. Each round ends with a 30-second break. In the kickboxing room there is also a punching bag, a perfect pull up bar, and a timing ball. During the class, members work through circuits using each of these machines while one person kickboxes the live target.”

The high energy and continuous structure of the class keeps the heart rate up, and provides a changing atmosphere to help members stick to their New Year’s resolutions. “ It never gets boring because you only do it for two minutes and then you get to switch it up,” said Young. “It is so amazing to watch the improvement and confidence of everyone even after the first week. The intensity of the workout can always be increased, so the class never gets too easy and it is always a challenge.”

Young balances teaching 10 kickboxing classes a week with waitressing at O’ Malley’s Pub & Grill in Sylva on the weekends and attending Southwestern Community College to get an associates degree. “I am also in the process of getting my personal training license,” said Young. “When I am not at the gym teaching classes, going to school, or waitressing, you will find me either at the gym getting my workout in or running. Lifting weights and running are the two things that I do in my free time, because they keep me motivated and focused on my lifelong goals,” explained Young.

Classes are available at Body Visions gym, located on the Highlands Road, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-1:45 p.m., Monday Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Weekend classes are available on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. More classes will soon be available. All classes are only $5, and the first class is free. Class packages are also available at a discounted price. For more information visit KnockOut Fitness on facebook.

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