Top New Year's Resolutions - and How You Can Achieve Them

Many of us will be making New Year's Resolutions around this time - and thinking of great ways to stick to them. Despite different lifestyles and interests, most people's resolutions are roughly the same. The top 10 in the UK are:

1. Enjoy life more
2. Lose weight / go on a diet
3. Get fit / start exercising
4. Learn something new
5. Find true love
6. Get a better job
7. Save money
8. Pay off my debts
9. Take a trip
10. Reduce stress
11. Spend more time with family and friends
12. Quit smoking
13. Drink less

We can't help you find true love or  change your job, but kickboxing can achieve can help achieve 5 out of the 10 favourites listed!

Lose weight and get fit: our classes are structured to focus on fitness, strength and flexibility as well as learning techniques. Burning around 600+ calories per class, kickboxing targets all muscle groups for a total-body work out. With a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic exercises, our workouts burn fat during the class, and increase your metabolic rate so you're still burning calories at a higher rate, even after you've stopped exercising!

Learn something new:  there's something fantastic about being able to do a spinning hook kick. Or perfecting your roundhouse kick. Or a turning back fist...there's plenty to learn in kickboxing. With 9 belts before your black belt, and then countless dans afterwards, you can do martial arts for a lifetime and still learn something new. (Sensei Jim is a 3rd Dan)

Reduce stress:  according to the NHS, if you exersice regularly, you can reduce your stress and anxiety levels by up to 40%. Your body creates endorphins after a workout giving you a 'high'...and punching pads after a bad day at the office can't hurt either.

Spend more time with family and friends:  a third of our students attend classes with a friend or family member. More often than not, most being a class by themselves and feel so good afterwards, their friends want to try.

To see if kickboxing can help you stick to your New Years Resolution, visit to book in for a free session.

5 Simple Exercises to Better Abs

A lot of people complain that, even when they do hundreds of sit-ups a day, they don't have a flat stomach or defined abs. Unfortunately, simply doing sit ups won't give you a flat stomach (in fact, it will develop some parts of it and not others, making the muscles less even). However, these simple exercises, when combined, will exercise all parts of your stomach.

1. The Plank
This is a fairly simple, static exercise, which works your entire core. Essentially, you need to get into the press-up position - keep your arms shoulder-width apart and your body straight, with your feet together and support your body weight on your hands and feet.

Hold this position for 3 minutes. If you feel like you are starting to ache or need to move in that time, either do a few press-ups, while keeping the abdominals engaged, or move onto your elbows instead of your hands.

Always ensure that you are pushing yourself, even with static exercises - if it becomes easy, hold it for longer, or move your hands closer into the center, or balance on one leg.

2. Bicycle sit-ups
Lie on your back, and raise your feet about 6 inches off the floor - keep them raised throughout the exercise. Hold your hands at your temples with your elbows wide out. Lift yourself up into the sitting position, while twisting your body slightly and bending one knee until your elbow touches the opposite knee. Then go back down into the original position and repeat with the opposite side.

This is a fantastic move that works more of your muscles than a conventional sit-up. A great way to do this exercise (if you're sick of counting) is to incorporate it into your tabata routine (in a previous post).

3. The Bridge
Another static exercise, like the Plank, but this is on your side. You still need to keep your body as straight as possible, but you will be balancing on one hand rather than two. Start by lying on your side with your supporting elbow bent at a right-angle. Slowly raise your body until it's perfectly straight rather than sagging down to lie on the ground, and hold it straight for 2 minutes on each side.

Again, if this becomes easy as you strengthen your muscles, you can make it more challenging by supporting yourself on your hand rather than your elbow, or raising your other arm up above you.

4. Leg Raises
Lie on your back, with your hands under the small of your back. Slowly raise your legs until they're at a 30-40 degree angle from the floor and hold them there for the count of 20 and lower them until they are a few inches off the floor, and then repeat.

5. Plank with cross kicks
Get into the plank position like in number 1. Rather than just holding this position, lift one foot off the floor and kick (slow and controlled) across to the opposite side (so you kick left with your right leg, and right with your left leg so your kicks go under your body). Make sure that your hips stay as low as possible, and you are not twisting your body or dragging your foot on the floor. It may be easier to take one hand off the floor when doing this.

After the kick, bend the  knee  on the same leg and bring it to the elbow on the same side (right knee to right elbow), then return to original position and repeat on other side.

These exercises will build and tone your muscles, but good abs aren't built on exercise alone - you need to watch what you eat to ensure your fantastic abs aren't hidden by a thick layer of fat. The forumula for healthy adults is fairly simple - eat the same amount of calories as you use up if you want to stay at the same weight, and eat fewer calories than you use if you want to lose weight. Ensure that your calories are from quality food, rather than junk (so eating 1300 calories a day, but only from McDonalds, isn't doing you any favours). There are a few extra tricks to help you along though:
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Eat small amounts regularly - instead of 3 large meals a day, eat 6 smaller ones, more evenly spaced. This will help with your metabolic rate, but try to have your last meal no later than 8pm.
  • Eat high-protein foods, such as nuts (be careful though - there are more calories in these than you think), beans, porridge, eggs and lean meats. Peanut butter is good for staving off sugar-cravings.
  • Drink less alcohol
  • And finally - don't totally obsess over your food! It sounds counter-intuitive, but the more focussed you are on everything you put into your mouth, the more likely you'll break what you see as a 'diet' rather than just eating healthily. If you really really want a piece of chocolate cake, eat it! Just make sure your working off what you eat. 

For more information on our varied, exciting work outs in a friendly environment, visit

Thanks to Joey Camps for the image. 

3 Reasons to Work Out in a Group

When it's as cold and dark as it is now (at 5:20pm...) it's fairly easy to make excuses to stay on a warm, comfy sofa...but our students drag themselves out into the cold to run, jump, punch, kick and generally wear themselves out. Working out in a group has a lot of benefits - the main one being the commitment and motivation to keep going.

1) Commitment and Motivation
It's fairly easy to avoid going to a gym - you just don't go. But when you have a friend waiting for you, or a group of other students who will miss you, you manage to find those reserves of energy you need to get up and work out. A recent survey, commissioned by Diamond, found that 61% of women found it nearly impossible to summon the energy to exercise when doing it alone. However, the same proportion of women said that they would enjoy exercising with a friend, and would push themselves harder if they did.

2) You Push Yourself More
Friendly competition can go a long way, but the benefits of exercising in a group go further than the conscious desire to compete with a friend or group. A recent Oxford study showed that people release more endorphins when they exercise as a group, than when they exercise alone, meaning that you can push yourself harder, for longer.

3) Variety
It's easy to slip into a rut and get bored of the same workouts at the gym, and it can be difficult to keep thinking of ways to change it to ensure that you are always challenging yourself and improving. With kickboxing classes, each class is different and our workouts focus on all areas of the body. You'll improve fitness, stength and flexibility while always learning new things.

For more information on classes, whether you want to join the group with a friend or by yourself, go to

Stay in shape over the holidays, in 4 minutes a day!

Even the most dedicated athletes can lapse over the holidays - plenty of food and drink, coupled with the cold weather and celebrations tend to put work outs on a back burner. which means we gain weight and it's harder to get back into a good routine.

Even if you don't head to the gym or train over the holiday period, you can still keep your fitness levels up and avoid piling on the pounds by exercising frequently. The work out detailed in this blog is favoured by a lot of athletes and martial artists, and will only take 4 minutes out of your day to do (you can do it in an ad break, while you're making a cup of tea, just before you go to bed...). You don't even need any equipment.

Tabata training is 4 minutes of interval training/cardio - you don't need to run or jump, you can do any exercise, as long as it involves as many muscle groups as possible.

A tabata workout is simple: you exercise for 20 seconds and rest for 10, and do 8 rounds. Sounds easy ;)

If you don't have a timer at home, there are plenty on the internet. 

Ideas for exercises to do for the 20 seconds:
- press ups
- squat jogs
- lunges
- tuck jumps
- v-sits
- leg raises
- tricep dips
- sit ups can be adapted to any exercise. If you have a cross trainer at home, or like to go jogging, try it on those.

Remember that you do need to work for 8 rounds - it's a good idea to pace yourself a little on the first go to make sure that you keep going through all 8, and push yourself a little harder each time. 

At Southgate Kickboxing Academy, we always strive to improve the fitness, stength and flexibility of our students. Interval training is a fantastic way to push your fitness levels further and build strength quickly. For information on classes, visit