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.
Practitioners of kenpo, jujitsu, muay thai, and other forms, the instructors at Sullivan's USA Karate are standard-bearers for many martial-arts traditions. But it isn't just self-defense and physical training?the New England schools teach students to practice patience, to use their minds before their muscles, and to develop the sense of discipline needed to avenge their teachers' fender-benders.
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 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.
With locations spanning the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, iLoveKickboxing.com has trimmed the waistlines of thousands of members while bolstering their confidence levels with engaging and varied total-body workouts. The program blends kickboxing techniques into a fat-burning, muscle-toning, and endurance-enhancing regimen. Limbs warm up with a quick jog before taking down imaginary opponents with a set of practice kicks and punches to drive home proper technique. The pummeling then switches to the one of many freestanding heavy bags, and incorporates ducking and weaving to boost heart rates. Teamwork drills help members tone up while cultivating camaraderie, which could lead to a partnership inspiring future buddy-cop-movie sensations.