Bodycombat™ is a non-combat cardiovascular fitness-to-music workout drawing from multiple martial arts disciplines, such as karate, kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, and Muay Thai. Although drawn from these various forms, it is not necessary to know any of them in order to start learning Bodycombat™.
Each exercise session lasts approximately one hour and typically must be done at participating gyms by certified Les Mills instructors. Every three months a new module is released to the certified teachers, utilizing new choreography; this helps to keep the routine fresh, and serves to prevent the overworking of muscle groups. New music tracks are also included with each release and add variety to the program. Once the instructors are trained in the new module, they in turn teach the workout to the gym participants.
Normally set to ten tracks of the latest upbeat music, the moves are choreographed, repetitive and relatively easy to master, regardless of the exerciser’s range of familiarity with martial arts movements. Increasing or decreasing the range and acceleration of motion can help control the intensity of the exercise, thereby giving the participant the ability to regulate the level of energy expended.
Bodycombat™ is a full-body workout. Each class typically breaks down into ten routines, beginning with an upper body warm-up that may teach jabs, uppercuts and hooks; the warm-up session also commonly includes a lower body warm-up as well that focuses on various kicks. Once students are warmed up, the session intensifies and may include combinations of punches and kicks, which help tone and shape key muscle groups, enhancing core strength and stability. As the exercise ramps up, the cardio workout burns calories at a rapid rate, which is generally recognized as beneficial to cardiovascular health and lung capacity. The cool-down section utilizes elements from Tai-Chi, using gentle flowing movements to stretch hard-worked muscles and relax the body and mind. This workout is not only a vigorous exercise routine, but also may help to reduce stress and build self-confidence.
Bodycombat™ was founded by Les Mills, a native of New Zealand. Leslie "Les" Roy Mills is a retired New Zealand athlete, having represented New Zealand at the Olympic Games in the 1950s, 60s and early 70s. He competed in events such as shot put, discus and weightlifting. In 1966 he achieved a gold medal in discus. After retiring from active competition, he became a gym owner and developed several fitness-to-music programs. He also served as Mayor of Auckland from 1990 to 1998.