Meredith Tribble earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than eight years. She began her career as a certified Body Pump instructor through Les Mills International and since then has added Body Step and Body Flow certifications through LMI. To expand her specialty training, she obtained instructor certifications in spinning from Mad Dogg Athletics and kickboxing from AFFA and ISCA. She is also an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. In addition to group fitness instruction, she worked in fitness center management and sales before joining the Power Systems Education Department.

While many group fitness trends have come and gone, kickboxing has proven to have staying power in facilities across the country. Energizing music and exhilarating moves fuel this high-intensity workout, making it a fun alternative to pounding a treadmill. While most people are familiar with traditional boxing gloves and hand wraps, other tools are available to keep classes fun and challenging. Adding new equipment to a beginning or existing class is a great way to take your participants’ workout to the next level.

Freestanding Bags. If you have room for a somewhat large piece of equipment, freestanding bags are a great way for participants to exert a higher level of force than with a kick-and-punch shield. They can be purchased either individually or in groups of up to four bags linked together by a centered pole. Use these bags in a similar way that you would use a kick-and-punch shield.

Kick-and-Punch Shields. When pressed for floor space, kick-and-punch shields are a great way to practice almost any kickboxing exercise. When properly trained, participants may use the shields to perform partner exercises, or personal trainers may use them to cross-train clients. The shields may be purchased in smaller sizes for punching only or larger sizes that may be used for both punching and kicking. It is important to wear protective wraps, gloves and shoes when using these pieces.

Shadowboxing Bands. Shadowboxing bands are a great way to add additional resistance to any level of kickbox workout. Similar to traditional tubing, shadowboxing bands have foam rollers that protect the body from rubbing against the tube and foam-covered handles that provide a comfortable grip. A great alternative to wearing gloves for resistance, these bands allow for easy set-up and beginner friendly use, especially for those participants who are leery about using punching bags.

Weighted Gloves. Weighted gloves come in a variety of resistance levels and are often adjustable, allowing participants to gradually increase the amount of weight used as their skill improves. Available in up to two pounds per glove, the adjustable glove usually increases in half-pound increments. Keep in mind that heavier gloves (anything over a pound) should be used only for a short time and by experienced kickboxers. These gloves typically are not made for use with punching bags but are a resistance tool made for independent use. Weighted gloves are a great way to take users’ workouts to the next level—just make sure they don’t punch the bags while wearing them.

Strapped Hand Weights. Like the weighted gloves, strapped hand weights are a great way to add extra resistance to a kickboxing workout. While they clearly are not to be used with punching bags, the weights may be used to practice various punches with the benefit of additional strength training. Standard weights start at around one pound, but strapped hand weights may be adjusted using add-on weights to challenge even the most advanced participants. Keep in mind that strapped hand weights, like weighted gloves, are not appropriate for an entire workout; they are more suited for short periods.

Safety and Equipment Care. For new participants, using bags and weights may be overwhelming and compromise their form and safety. Start by using hand wraps to keep hands and wrists in alignment, then progress to boxing gloves and eventually weighted gloves. Form is incredibly important when resistance is added, whether it is in the form of a weighted glove or a punching bag. Make sure that whoever teaches kickboxing at your facility has the appropriate level of training for the class or client population they are leading. Watch the straps on kick-and-punch shields so that they don’t become loose and tear off after extensive use. Make sure the base of freestanding bags are locked tightly in place and filled with the appropriate amount of filler (usually sand). Kickboxing can be an exciting and fun workout for any participant—mix in new tools frequently to keep them coming back.