The need for something new and interesting to keep people enthusiastic about fitness has led to many kinds of new routines and workouts being developed, especially in the last few decades. Maybe you’ve tried everything and you feel like nothing excites you or adds that old spice back into things. But have you really tried everything there is? One option you may not have thought of that remains a great choice for cardio-based fitness is tae bo. Based on a unique fusion of tae kwon do and boxing, it combines many of the basic moves used in self-defense with the more creative, artistic side of aerobics to come up with something totally new and impressively effective.
The word ‘tae’ in tae kwon do incorporates the legs, while boxing, as everyone knows, utilizes one’s fists. Therefore tae bo is a well-balanced form of exercise that uses the whole body in coordination. Tae bo is focused primarily on using well-honed techniques over moderate to long periods of time to deepen one’s reserves of stamina and sharpen reflexes and coordination. Being a form of exercise that relies on particular easy to grasp but specialized techniques, most people will need to take classes to do it properly, or at the very least need to pick up a few books on the subject. But once you get into it, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Tae bo is designed to give back exactly what you put into it, and doesn’t stress competition so much as the perfect honing of one’s own body. Absolute control, power, lasting power and flexibility are called for, and one’s progress is easily self-monitored according to how easily the routines are gone through from one session to the next.
While it’s no exaggeration to say that tae bo expects a lot if you want to get a lot out of it, it’s also something that scales very well. Due to its non-competitive nature, it can easily be adjusted down to a mild, soothing form for the amateur, and then scaled up over time as the beginner acquires more experience. Perhaps the most significant reward tae bo offers is not so much physical as psychological. By being able to tell exactly how far you are along on mastering your forms, by being able to rate your own progress and see your improvements, the exercise becomes something enjoyable rather than intimidating or stressful. The simple pleasure of mastering your own body allows you to get lost in the exercise, and this in turn causes you to work harder at it. Working harder gets you better results, and… so you can see, it’s a positive feedback loop of sorts.
While tae bo is owned by Billy Blanks and accordingly requires licensing fees for anyone to teach it under that name, there are however many similar exercises under slightly different names attempting to cash in on the phenomenon. If you don’t think your local gym offers tae bo classes, check again. Chances are they have them, just not under that name! Try it out and see how it suits you; it can be a great break from something more annoying to force yourself to go through, such as sprinting or weightlifting.
Dr. Michael Allen
Fitness Instructor & Fat Loss Factor Founder