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Classes kick up cardio workouts

By: Natalie Otis, Journal Correspondent
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It’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday and as 18 women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s mull around the Auburn Martial Arts Center chatting, it’s not clear whether they are there to trade recipes or fight. All of the women have gloves on, and most are smiling and laughing. That is, until the music kicks in and instructor Debbie Lovas cues the group to start with some jumping movements. Then they definitely look like they came to kick butt. During the hour-long class the women go from lithe to lethal as they punch and kick their way through a series of exercises that blend martial arts and aerobics. The result is strength training that is as powerful as it is useful and as entertaining as it is addictive. “I have never really been that excited about any exercise and this is something that I want to go and do,” said Amanda Fonseca, 26. Fonseca has been taking Lovas’ cardio-kickboxing classes at the center, located at 150 Harrison Ave., for five months, and has already seen some dramatic changes. Fonseca has gone from being the mother of a 2-year-old who couldn’t quite lose the baby weight to a confident woman who has slimmed down 80 pounds. “Now, it wasn’t just the class, but I do credit them with being the catalyst,” she said. “I go three times a week and have changed my diet, but I love it.” The class Lovas, a 20-year veteran of martial arts, has put together is an aerobic kickboxing series that uses a combination of karate and boxing with basic kicks, punches, strikes and blocks in an aerobics mode performed with a stand-alone fighting bag to high-energy dance music. Why has the method worked so well to aid in shedding pounds? It provides a full-body workout doubling the impact of aerobics. “I developed this program based on my own personal needs. I wanted a class that I could burn 600 to 800 calories in an hour,” Lovas said, adding that she is training for a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Lovas acknowledges that the fitness-based class has an important self-defense aspect that has crept in to make the exercise forms fun and functional. “I also want to make sure that the ladies develop their survival skills so if needed, I feel confident they would have a fighting chance,” she said. Lovas said her class participants are getting good self-defense training but they are also receiving an added benefit. Surprise! Kicking and punching are good stress relievers. “When one relieves stress and tension in a positive manner on the bags, the endorphins that you release empower you,” she said. “So even the meekest of us all will become empowered.” Classes meet at 9 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; at 8 a.m. Saturdays; and at 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call (530) 887-0215 for more information.