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The Kung Fu Kickboxing Workout
Kung Fu Kickboxing Workout Weave, punch and kick
  your way to a better body
  with The Kung Fu Kick-
  boxing Workout
...”

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS usually include slimming and keeping fit. Now you can fight your way to fitness in 2008 with martial arts champions Tiffany and Max Chen, who claim that by following The Kung Fu Kickboxing Workout DVD,
it will help you to
"blast fat and tone the body while building strength, agility and endurance".

Sounds reasonable, but will this DVD really help you on the road to fitness? MotorBar asked championship-standard Kickboxing trainer Ray Askew and his wife Kelly, a fitness instructor, to give us their comments.

According to Tiffany and Max, their Shan Shou boxing style incorpor-ates wrestling and kicking techniques to increase strength, speed and agility; improve endurance and encourage the reflexes of a fighter.
This DVD does not claim to teach you to fight — it does claim to be a fast-paced and exciting programme guaranteeing a heart-pumping workout that will quickly tone shoulders, arms, abs, glutes and legs.

Ray says that Americans are more into wrestling than Britain and although he was not too familiar with wrestling exercises, the first thing that impressed him was that Tiffany and Max were keen to caution those taking part in the programme to warm up correctly.

The introduction explained the importance of warming up and stret-ching. Ray emphasised the importance of stretching out after the workout, too. Good advice was given to take it easy at first, not to bounce and not to push yourself too hard. Breathe into the stretch, says Ray, then exhale. The stretching shown on the video is very similar to the way they both recommend. Both he and Kelly agreed
that to have the three different workouts, each suitable for different levels, was also a good idea.

The Basics consists of three-minute rounds of combat-oriented exercises; The Kicker has a series of thirty-second standing and floor callisthenics and The Killer (not, thankfully, literally!) is repetitive cycles of challenging, explosive movements. All three of the sections last about twenty minutes.

"Perhaps the only comment here," says Ray, is that they haven't explained that you should never cold stretch — you do need to warm up to get blood into the muscles before you stretch. Static stretching is good, but bounce-stretching is not." He suggests: "You should warm up, then stretch, then re-warm. Move at your own pace. It's all about what's comfortable for you. Tiffany and Max point out that you don't need to keep up with them — they've been doing this for years — everything should be very gradual."

Ray praises the DVD: "The concept of is very good — it's a good work-out with sensible information. But don't forget it is not a substitute for the personal guidance of an expert who can advise you what not to
do and how to do the exercises correctly. One criticism is that I don't think you need to isolate the neck muscles for exercise — most of these exercises will strengthen the neck and you should take advice before considering those. Personally, I'd give the neck exercises a miss."

Kelly says: "The Pulse-Raiser is the first warm-up and Tiffany explains very well how you should control your breathing as you lift a weight — often people are tempted to hold their breath."

"I can't fault The Kung Fu Kickboxing Workout for keeping fit," says Ray. "It is specific to kicking sports and the package is not misleading — it doesn't suggest you could fight once you've used the DVD. It is as it says — purely an exercise DVD." He adds: "The safety aspects are very good, but I don't think they've made it clear that you should be taking in fluids — so keep plenty of water nearby."

Both Kelly and Ray thought it would be good to have a 'PAR-Q' with the DVD. That is, a Pre-Activity, Readiness Questionnaire so you could tick off any problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, pregnancy, back or knee injuries or fitness levels. "We try and keep everyone as safe as possible while they are training," says Ray. "Tiffany is bringing up appropriate information and her voice is good and clear. There should be no jerky movements. Dipping and arching your back needs caution and you shouldn't crouch beyond seating position. Getting your balance will come with practise. Make sure your room is clear of obstacles, too."

Kelly comments: "This is a lot safer than some of the clubs I've come across!" She advises: "Bend your knees before you stretch for the floor. Low-impact is good. Tina and Max have a nice relaxed style with their punch, jab and cross. You shouldn't do anything that puts your joints under stress." She added: "It would be nice to see exactly what you could achieve from this workout."

On Workout 2, Ray felt that occasionally technical jargon was used without explanation and he emphasised the need to cool down after high-intensity exercise and to reduce the intensity before stretching. Perhaps try some marching, he says, like the Jane Fonda march!

Workout 3, says Ray, is good for fitness with an effective mix of movements and paces. "Max is clearly very experienced but Tiffany is demonstrating a level you could achieve more easily. Lunging exercises are excellent for toning up rear, thighs and fronts of legs."

The Verdict: Kelly and Ray think that The Kung Fu Kickboxing Workout is an excellent exercise DVD with great potential as a toner and fat-burner. The lunges and punches are similar to the ones they recom-mend. They further advise —

1. Have some understanding of fitness before you begin

2. Ideally, consult a fitness expert and also have a health check

3. Ensure you warm up and cool down properly

4. Give the neck exercises a miss — you don't need them

5. It is important to keep taking in fluids so keep water to hand

The Kung Fu Kickboxing Workout is on sale now, priced at 14.99.

Tiffany and Max Chen started learning martial arts at an early age from their father, Tai Chi Grand Master William C. C. Chen. A figure skating champion as a child, Tiffany entered her first martial arts competition at the age of 16 and now holds over 40 gold medals. Max, one of
the top full-contact Lei Tai San Shou competitors in the country, has achieved 20 gold medals in just over a decade of competing. They both teach at their father's school in New York.

Check out other fitness titles at www.acacialifestyle.com.