In 1990, Christina Rondeau fell in love. With martial arts, that is. After earning her black belt and competing in amateur karate and martial arts tournaments all over the United States and Europe, Rondeau decided to go pro. She travelled the globe as a member and coach on the USA WAKO kickboxing team, and went on to win the women's lightweight title. Rondeau continued to feed her athletic hunger with a switch to pro boxing and appeared in numerous print media and television shows, including The Maury Povich Show.
Having achieved fame and glory, Rondeau took on a new fight: she wanted to help women and children defend themselves while gaining indomitable confidence. She has authored books, created instructional DVDs, and opened Rondeau’s Kickboxing. The women-only, 24/7 gym garnered Rhode Island Monthly’s readers’ pick for Best Fitness Center in 2010, due in no small part to its empowering blend of fitness and martial-arts-based classes. Rondeau also promotes safety in her community by participating in events geared towards ending violence toward women and girls and teaching local schoolchildren how to defend themselves or pass a math quiz without using weapons. She also coordinated a box-a-thon to help line the shelves of a Rhode Island food bank.
American Kempo Karate Academy founder Mark DiNino is an eighth-degree black belt—and a father. In fact, three of his own children train at the academy, meaning the South Shore native shares many of the same hopes and concerns as other parents of AKKA students. But he also understands the benefits children can reap from the academy's program, which since 1995 has improved fitness and increased self-confidence, discipline, and concentration. Of course, kids aren't the only one's who can benefit from a boost in self-esteem, which is why AKKA also offers an adult program, where grownups can achieve similar gains and release stress brought on by their job or lack of homework.
Continuing the mission started in London more than 160 years ago, YMCA Smithfield provides quality, accessible fitness and wellness programs to families. Members enjoy full access to the center's fitness opportunities, whether they're burning calories in the gym, gliding through laps in the pool, or joining fellow members in classes ranging from kickboxing to Pilates. YMCA Smithfield also houses the organization's signature children's programming, helping kids get ready for school with pre-K enrichment or prepping them for a semester abroad in Atlantis with swim lessons. Before- and afterschool programs also give kids a safe spot to play while parents are at work.
Throughout the past three decades martial artist Bob Salisbury has dabbled in an array of martial arts styles—shaolin kempo karate and taekwondo, to name a few—but his specialty is kosho ryu kempo. At his studio, RI Fitness & Martial Arts, he and his staff teach this and other martial arts styles to students of all ages. Their adult classes focus on improving self-defense techniques, whereas youth classes focus on boosting self-esteem. Meanwhile, cardio kickboxing, boot camp, and kettlebell training classes can also help students pack a stronger punch and or whittle their way into a size smaller black belt.
Kickboxing classes deliver a knee to the face of fat, burning up to 860 calories an hour with the high-energy striking moves of martial arts and boxing. All four limbs get in on the bag-bludgeoning action at iLoveKickboxing as each class provides a full-body workout that tones arm, leg, and tentacle muscles while tightening the body’s core and improving balance. Hitting the heavy bags won't skin your knuckles once you don the included boxing gloves, which also double as excellent spring-loaded props for re-creating Three Stooges gags. Class times and dates vary based on location.
Boxing is renowned for its full-body fitness benefits and its high-intensity workouts. It's also considered by many to be a male-dominated sport. Dena Paolino is changing that. In 2009 she established Striking Beauties, the only female-centric boxing gym in New England, as a way to introduce women to the sport. At the gym, instructors lead beginners and experienced boxers through sessions full of jabs, strikes, and uppercuts, all of which help build muscle tone, boost endurance and agility, and develop hand-eye coordination.