Creating a Kickboxing Aqua Workout

Sunday, February 07 2021

Wind up some powerful punches and kicks against the water’s resistance in this kickboxing-inspired pool workout.  The kickboxing moves are taught with an add-on approach, creating an ever-expanding tsunami of non-stop action.  Just add water and recreate a splashy kickboxing gym workout, complete with kicks, punches, jump ropes, sprints, battle ropes and more. 

Like the prodigal son, I seem to return “home” to kickboxing every couple of years.  Kickboxing is where my water fitness career began 20 years ago when the aquatic director at the JCC of Greater Rochester encouraged me to cross over from the fitness studio to the pool to teach an aquatic kickboxing class in November 2000. And so it began. The first continuing education workshop that I taught for water fitness instructors in 2002 was called Kickboxing Waves. Shortly after, one of the first DVDs that I produced was called Combat Aqua. The above photo was the cover shot for that DVD in 2005. Since then, I have returned to kickboxing every couple of years with a different workshop or video. 

Kickboxing Reality
Please keep in mind, I use the phrase “kickboxing-inspired” because group-fitness workouts tend to take great liberties with the sport of kickboxing. The Aqua Kickboxing Gym Workout is NOT designed to mimic traditional boxing or martial arts.  The moves are taught to the beat of the music and they are fast-paced and choreographed to form a sequence of non-stop water exercise action.  The reason why kickboxing is a favorite of myself and my students is because the punches and kicks interact spectacularly with the water’s resistance.  However, I want to dispel any notion that we are we adhering to strict form protocols. This is designed to be splashy cardio fun with an emphasis on upper body muscle conditioning.   If you want to participate in a more traditional aqua kickboxing workout, check out the AquaGym Fitness video, Combat Basics.

The Punches
One of the ways that aquatic kickboxing veers from more traditional boxing protocols is the hand position when throwing punches.  In a boxing gym, the hands would be fisted when punching at a resistance, such as boxing bag or an opponent’s training mitts.  In the pool, the resistance is the water itself and therefore we throw punches with an open hand to maximize the drag resistance.  Closing up the hand into a fist in water would reduce resistance and intensity. 

Submerged Arms
In order to interact with the water’s resistance, it is imperative that the arms are kept at or below the water’s surface.  After teaching aquatic kickboxing for the last 20 years, I personally witnessed many of my students attempt to punch out of the water.  They would quickly correct their abberant behavior when my evil eye landed on them.  Keeping the arms under the water requires you to be at chest depth in shallow water.  If the water is too shallow it will be impossible to this.  Likewise, this workout is not designed for deep water.  Many of the moves require contact with the pool floor.

Webbed Gloves
Connecting punches with the water’s resistance can be enhanced with the use of webbed gloves.  Webbed gloves are simply ideal for aquatic kickboxing formats. Affordable and versatile, I have had the same pair of Speedo Webbed Gloves for the past 7 years.  They have been used hundreds of times, making them one of the best $15.00 investments I have ever made.

The Add-On Approach
The reason I chose add-on instruction for this workout is because my experience over the last 20 years is that kickboxing moves were often foreign to many of my water exercise participants. Therefore, I started teaching with an add-on approach because the repetition reinforced the form and execution of the movement.  Add-on utilizes predictable sequencing, which means the same moves keep coming around time and time again, providing opportunities to learn and improve technique for those moves.  As the workout progresses, this familiarity with the moves encourages participants to put more effort into the exercises and that increases intensity and results.  Watch Mark explain more about technique and add-on in this 5-minute video.

The Aqua Kickboxing Gym Workout is a great way to encourage your students to release some pent-up aggression by going a few rounds with the water’s resistance.  Ding, ding, ding…..

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.