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Greenville & Hockessin Life

Kickboxing fitness classes produce health benefits for people of all ages

Jun 22, 2017 01:15PM ● By J. Chambless

Denise Lovett leads a kickboxing fitness class at Cornerstone Martial Arts in Hockessin.

By Steven Hoffman
Staff Writer

“All right, gang! Let’s bring it in!”

Denise Lovett, a kickboxing fitness instructor with Cornerstone Martial Arts in Hockessin, enthusiastically leads the class of participants through a series of warm-up exercises, including jumping jacks. Soon, they are running laps as Lovett stands in the middle, claps, and cheers them on.

“All right, let’s take it to the floor for push-ups!”

Once the push-ups are finished, Lovett demonstrates a speed skating move for the students to do. Soon, they are punching and kicking heavy bags as the instructor watches to make sure that each person is using the proper technique.

“This class is comprised of kickboxing veterans,” Lovett explained during a break, “so they know the routine well. They know what they are doing. The class is really focused on the health benefits that you can get from kickboxing.”

A moment later, Lovett yells out, “Time!” and directs everyone to run more laps.

Lovett is a certified personal trainer, and she is focused on making sure that each person is getting what they expect—and need—out of the class.

“I think everybody comes for a different reason,” she explained. “Some are here to relieve stress. Some are here to have a great workout. Some are here for the community. Anyone who takes group fitness is looking for accountability and someone to motivate them. They want a good workout, they want someone to push them, and they want accountability.”

As a certified personal trainer, Lovett is an expert at the motivation part. Being a cheerleader for everyone in the class is a role that she relishes.

“Sometimes,” she explained, “you need to be taken out of your comfort zone.”

Lovett herself was taken a little bit out of her own comfort zone when she first tried a kickboxing class. She explained that she learned about the benefits of kickboxing while watching her children, John and Kate, take a martial arts class with Rob Kloss, the owner of Cornerstone Martial Arts. One day, he started demonstrating some kickboxing techniques that were going to be incorporated into a new class. Lovett was looking for something new to add to her own fitness program at the time. She had developed into a dedicated athlete at this point in her life because heart disease runs in her family. Her father needed a quadruple bypass at the age of 50, so she wanted to do everything she could to improve her heart health. She likes running on trails and roads, lifting weights, and high-intensity interval training. The high-intensity of the workout from the kickboxing class is very good for participants, so she thought she would give it a try.

“I loved it right away,” Lovett explained. “It really works. It’s a great way to build stamina.”

She noted that, as people age, their bodies may stop responding to certain exercises, so it's important to keep trying different things. Lovett explained that this kickboxing program is based on martial arts techniques. The full-body exercises are interspersed with punching and kicking, and the high-intensity interval training can produce real results, regardless of your age or the physical condition that you start out in.

One day about four years ago, Kloss and Lovett were talking about the need for a morning kickboxing class. Kloss wanted to offer one, but he didn’t have an instructor for it. Lovett explained that she made an offer that if Kloss would send her for the necessary certification to teach the classes, she would serve as the instructor for it. The certified personal trainer was working with whole groups of people. The morning class immediately became popular with those who took it.

“A majority of the class has been here for years,” she explained.

The participants say that it’s a very healthy environment, in part because of Lovett’s unwaveringly positive attitude.

Ralph LoPilato, a resident of Hockessin, has been taking the class for about four years.

“It builds my endurance and helps me stay flexible,” he said. “It’s an aerobic workout so it’s good for your heart. It does build some self-defense tools because we’re kicking and punching. I feel more confident and strong.”

He credited Lovett with helping to make the class fun.

“It’s a very positive environment,” he said, adding that Kloss makes sure that any of the people who are paying to take classes at Cornerstone get their money’s worth by having them work hard during the class.

While participants learn proper punching and kicking techniques during the kickboxing class, there is not a heavy emphasis on self-defense—there are other offerings at Cornerstone Martial Arts that focus on that.

The kickboxing class, Lovett said, is intended to be fun—but beneficial.

“The class is for all ages,” she said. “I have two children who are ten and eleven and they can do it. You see different fitness levels here. There’s a lot of fun music, there are people that you can enjoy being with, and you may not feel like you’re working out as hard as you are because it’s fun.”

The last three minutes of each class may be the most difficult for participants because the intensity gets raised a bit. During what Lovett calls “the lightning round,” she calls out different exercises for the class to do. The participants complete each exercise. By the end of the class, everyone is sweating and smiling.

“For me, a lot of people get caught up in trends and lose sight of getting a good, solid base workout,” Lovett said. “Kickboxing classes like this are a staple for fitness now. It’s not something that you do every day. You’ll do it for two or three days a week along with your other fitness program.”

For more information about Cornerstone Martial Arts, visit the Facebook page, the website at or call 302-234-1966.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].

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