I Found an At-Home Cardio Workout I Like Just as Much as Running, and I'm Not Giving It Up
One month into social distancing at home, I was getting bored of my regular fitness routine: run in the morning before work, afternoon walk in the evening before dinner, sleep, repeat. Not to mention, running every day can certainly take a toll on your body — no fitness expert in their right mind recommends doing that! My future husband and I decided to clear the living room space (we basically just rolled up the rug and let it rest against the wall and pushed the coffee table to the side — a little redesign doesn't call for much in a 760-square-foot apartment), and downloaded the YouTube app for our Smart TV.
People always talk about the workout classes they're streaming online, so I figured there would be one waiting there for me. Staying true to my brand, I went straight to the POPSUGAR Fitness YouTube channel and turned on a 40-minute boxing and kickboxing workout with Christa DiPaolo of Boxing & Bubbles. The video proclaimed to "torch 500 calories," which is about how much I burn during a six mile jog. As a runner with a low resting heart rate, it definitely takes me a hot second to reach my aerobic zone. Being the negative Nancy that I am, I decided to keep my outlook as such: complete and total skepticism. But I turned on the cardio strength program anyway.
Aside from the fact that Christa DiPaolo is toned, tough, funny, and easy to listen to, she's also relatable — cursing her way through a workout, as one does when things get hard, and understanding when she needs to slow down for her viewers. She knows when to carefully break down the moves — the punches, the jabs, the upper cuts — because cardio kickboxing routines are certainly a lot to wrap your head around when you're a newbie like I am. But that's what I loved about them immediately: these sets were mentally stimulating, and that made the time go by even quicker.
The first time Christa told me to "head Southpaw," I was like, "Oh! That's the movie where Jake Gyllenhaal is shirtless 90 percent of the time, so sure, take me there."
In the next few days, I flew through all of Christa's courses for POPSUGAR and ended up becoming a member of her own B&B Squad (future husband was along for the ride, too). As I do with anything that will benefit my health, I really committed to becoming better at cardio kickboxing. I bought three-pound weighted gloves and continued to use my full laundry detergent bottles as weights, since dumbbells were widely sold out across the internet at the time. Clearly, I missed that boat.
Soon after, I came into contact with the Obé Fitness team, learning that the company recently launched a series of cardio boxing classes, which Obé cofounder Mark Mullett says was a decision to "bring the newest trends in fitness to his global community," plus, it's a fun way to get drenched. And that brings me to my next point: little miss negative Nancy (yeah, hi, that's me!) was sweating buckets during these workouts. Cardio boxing and cardio kickboxing routines, especially when accompanied by a pair of weighted gloves, are hard work mentally and physically. I really couldn't believe how aerobically challenged I felt during a 40-minute session.
Practice is the key to mastering every new activity, and I still don't look super polished or graceful making transitions between moves. I also don't remember what every pose, punch, or stance is called, so I do mess up regularly. We all make mistakes. The first time Christa told me to "head Southpaw," I was like, "Oh! That's the movie where Jake Gyllenhaal is shirtless 90 percent of the time, so sure, take me there." But I'm continuing on this cardio boxing path because I finally found a workout that makes me sweat as hard as running does and also challenges me to get tough in new ways.
I wanted to learn more about cardio boxing and cardio kickboxing, so I reached out to Christa DiPaolo and Obé cardio boxing instructor Alex Scolari for some fast facts. These awesome fitness influencers — who both got their start in Billy Blanks's famous Tae Bo classes in LA — had the answers to all of my burning questions. Scroll down to see what I discovered about my new favorite workout, aka the reason why the rug is still rolled up against the wall over there in the corner.