US

Kickbox your way to fitness

October 5, 2018
By Shermeen Zuberi

It’s 2018, and individuals still have to unlearn that body shaming is unacceptable.....

COVER STORY

It’s 2018, and individuals still have to unlearn that body shaming is unacceptable. You can be “perfect”, look the way society wants you to, and the trolls will still not spare you. And if you let them into your mind, are you really fit?

Fitness is neither synonymous with thin nor is it about following a certain trend to achieve a certain number on the machine. It’s a lifestyle change and you don’t need an expert to weigh in on how that could ever be a problem for individuals who want to be fit: you’re not “motivated” enough so you fall off the track. But why are you not motivated? Why can’t you achieve this simple goal? If you - your mind and body - are a priority, why can’t you remain focused? The answer is quite simple, actually. You’re not enjoying it.

Rameesha Shahid, Pakistan’s first female kickboxing coach is our girl crush for exactly this reason. “I’ve always loved being active,” she shares with Us. “Growing up, I was into sports - taekwondo, cricket, cycling. My first kickboxing class at K7 Academy was nearly five years ago and I felt an instant connection! I decided I’d learn the art of combat sport sequentially, that is, I’d start with attending a kickboxing academy, get an international certification, and then move on to assist seniors before becoming a trainer myself.”

Seems like her plan worked all right. In 2016, Rameesha finally took up a full-time position at the same academy and has since been training young girls and women in kickboxing, pushing them to be healthier and stronger.

About K7 Academy

The Academy regularly organises and conducts combat arts training and self-defence workshops. They’ve led youth projects in collaboration with Lyari boxers and US Consulate to promote girls in sport. Further, they’ve run corporate training with focus on self-defence both in public setting and at the workplace.

Why kickboxing?

Kickboxing, for youth especially, is a healthy recreational activity, which teaches them new skills and encourages them to stand up for themselves and for one another.

“Kickboxing boosts physical as well as mental health,” Rameesha observes. “It helps release anger and frustration; alleviate stress; and boosts confidence. The workout is so intense, it keeps your heart rate up, thereby building strength and stamina.

“Besides, it’s not the same as other workouts. It requires - and simultaneously improves - concentration, hand-eye coordination, and reflexes because you learn to train your mind along with your body. Further, you learn how to knock down and get back on your feet, which instils the much-needed confidence and self-esteem. Not to forget that you learning to defend yourself is a valuable skill that can be applied to real life situations as well.”

Tips for beginners and common mistakes

Kickboxing can be intimidating. Rameesha believes in baby steps: “Set achievable, realistic goals and build on that. Give your goal a deadline, and reward yourself when you achieve them. But remember, fitness is a journey. Building a lifestyle takes time; you’ll fail many times and that is okay. Achieve things at your own pace, get back up and start again!”

A session will only get you so far; what you do post-workout is just as important to not sabotage your efforts:


  • Cool down. Your body is warm. This would help recirculate your blood volume and allow your body’s transition to a more relaxed mode.
  • Eat. If you wait too long to eat post your session, there’s a change you’ll be so hungry that you’ll overeat. Often, that means making poor choices. Don’t let your hard work go to waste.
  • Stay hydrated. When we sweat, we lose a lot of electrolytes. Coconut water is a great way to restore those lost electrolytes and refuel you.

P.S. Avoid coffee and soda drinks.

“I do not recommend beginners to follow online training videos because it takes one wrong move to mess up everything,” she stresses. “If you are a beginner, it is extremely crucial that a trainer is present to reduce the risk of over-exerting and risk of injury. If you don’t have access to gym, outdoors is the best! Call a friend and step out, breathe fresh air, go for a run or a long walk, or hop on a bike and explore the city.”

Kickboxing speak

In a wider sense, it incorporates all stand-up combat sports. Different forms have different rule sets. However, there are techniques that are considered standard to the sport. They include:

  • Stances - orthodox (with left food forward), south paw (with right food forward)
  • The four basic punches - jab (a quick straight punch by the leading arm), cross (a powerful straight punch thrown with the rear hand), hook (a semi-circular punch thrown with the lead hand), uppercut (a swinging upward blow thrown with the rear hand)
  • The three basic kicks - front kick (strike or push with the balls of the foot), side kick (strike with heel of the foot; the leg parallel to the ground), round kick (circular strike with top of the foot or lower shin; hips turned over)

“My active rest day involves cycling, it wakes me up in the morning and helps me unwind.”

Rameesha Shahid

Lexicology

Did you know kickboxing is a source of linguistic information, too? It can be used to learn grammar and vocabulary. You may, perhaps, be familiar with the following idioms because of their frequent usage, but I bet you didn’t know that this is where they originated from!


  • Be in a tight corner: in a particularly difficult or awkward situation, especially one that is not easy to escape or resolve
  • Bob and weave: be evasive
  • Gloves are off: there is going to be a serious dispute
  • Hit below the belt: to unfairly target another person’s weakness or vulnerability
  • In (one’s) corner: giving one’s full support to someone
  • Knockout: the act of rendering unconscious; strikingly attractive or impressive


  • Lead with one’s chin: take a risk and behave without caution
  • Lightweight/Heavyweight: not serious; trivial/very powerful; influential
  • On the ropes: on the verge of defeat or collapse; hopeless or powerless
  • Out for the count: unconscious or in a deep, insensible sleep
  • Roll with the punches: cope with and withstand adversity, especially by being flexible
  • Rope-a-dope: relating to or being a strategy in which one behaves passively or with little aggression until an opportune moment arises for successful action
  • Saved by the bell: rescued from difficulty or misfortune by timely intervention of someone or something
  • Spar: to fight with an opponent in a short bout or practice session
  • Take the gloves off: to begin to behave in a more hostile or tenacious way
  • Throw in the towel: to give up on some endeavor; to admit defeat or failure 
  • Throw one’s hat into the ring: to announce or make known one’s intention to compete against others for something
  • To come to blows: begin to fight
  • To keep one’s guard up: to be careful and alert
  • Undercard: a subordinate activity or event in a series