Kickboxing Revisited

A new take on a favorite workout


Kickboxing was my workout of choice back in the day – meaning the early 2000s – when I faithfully punched and roundhouse kicked my way to a pretty lean and mean body, if I do say so myself. Then I started running in order to add some crosstraining to my workout routine. I found that there was truth in the term “runner’s high,” and I soon became hooked on that feeling, trading in my kickboxing gloves for running shoes.

Every once in awhile, though, I would fondly remember my sculpted kickboxing-era shoulders and abs. So, I was very happy to get the chance to dust off my gloves and throw some hooks and uppercuts at the newly-opened RI Martial Arts school in North Providence.

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous when I showed up for kickboxing class. It was to be my first in almost a decade and my instructor, Kyoshi Rick Wilmott, came with some pretty serious credentials: he’s a World Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductee and he holds black belts in 10 different martial arts systems. This guy is the master – literally.

At RI Martial Arts, Wilmott teaches authentic martial arts to kids, teens and adults, but decided to also offer kickboxing because it’s a high-intensity workout that helps people feel empowered. “With kickboxing there’s a change that takes place in people so quickly,” he says. “You can start to see more confidence developing within a matter of just a few classes.”

To provide a “truly dynamic” kickboxing experience, Wilmott became one of only three schools in the state certified to offer a kickboxing program from the international organization It’s billed as an alternative to classes that direct students to “follow the leader and punch the air,” focusing instead on real self-defense moves used in martial arts.

I was pleasantly surprised that getting back into kickboxing was much like riding a bike; I hadn’t forgotten the basics and I felt right at home jabbing, bobbing and weaving my way through class. I welcomed the stress relief (oh yes, and the workout) I got from punching and kicking a heavy bag for an hour.

There were a couple of beginners in my class, and Wilmott was attentive and encouraging to everyone, offering guidance on technique when needed, and high fives all around after each set – or, as close as one can get to high fiving while wearing kickboxing gloves.

A few days after class I could still feel the soreness in my shoulders and abs - the kind that only shows up when you’ve neglected working on certain muscle groups for a little too long. It looks like kickboxing is making a comeback in my workout repertoire.