Body combat may seem like a grueling and rough sport, but according to instructor Alex Chai, 24, it’s all about having fun and letting go.
Chai, who has been an instructor for three years, started out as a regular gym member.
But the opportunity to work out with friends and the stress-busting factor kept him going back for more and eventually, he signed up to be an instructor.
“Body combat is a mixed-martial arts inspired workout that helps to improve your cardio and coordination as well as build strength, speed and agility,” said Chai.
As body combat is a non-contact sport, there is a lot of air punching and kicking. But what really drives the intensity of the workout is the music.
“If you’re stressed out from work and come for a body combat class and start moving to the beat, you’ll come out feeling better and more confident about yourself,” said another instructor Kong Sei Key, 30.
Given that it’s a full body workout, 10 songs are used per session to focus on different forms of martial arts.
For example, the instructor will include a boxing track to work on upper body strength and another track, which incorporates a few martial arts like taekwondo, kickboxing and karate, to work out the leg muscles.
With all the fun that comes with the sport, it’s no wonder that body combat is gaining popularity these days.
But Chai attributes its success to the public being more health-conscious and aware of the variety of workouts offered at gyms.
“It’s no longer a niche market because people are exposed to all these exercises, especially with pictures and hashtags on social media. It inspires them to try,” he said.
“And when a workout is fun, people come back for more. So I think that gives body combat an edge over conventional workouts like jogging and cycling.”
However, a lot of newbies tend to give up after their first class because they can’t complete the exercise.
Kong said: “Newcomers might find it quite intense but there are easier options available, with lower difficulty levels.
“We want them to keep up as much as they can, but at the same time, go easy on their workouts.
It’s also a challenge for instructors, who have to constantly come up with ideas to make the workouts better and more interesting.
“Although the awareness is growing, there is still work to be done to grow the sport. The biggest challenge we face now is convincing others that body combat is an effective workout that can change their lives for the better,” said Chai.
Body combat is part of Unbeatable, a series where we highlight young Malaysian athletes practicing unconventional sports in conjunction with Hari Sukan Negara.
Check out some of the videos here.