This is the No.1 workout to kickstart your fitness

From karate to Muay Thai, combat sports are taking the fitness world by storm. Here’s why you may want to give these killer workouts a try.

Getting a little tired of trudging on the treadmill or lifting weights? It might be time to unleash your inner warrior.

Combat sports, such as boxing, karate, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, are taking the fitness world by storm, with interest skyrocketing.

Pinterest data reveals searches for mixed martial arts training have increased 200 per cent, while searches for karate kumite (sparring) are up 190 per cent.

Over on TikTok, #boxing has racked up more than 153 billion views.

Celebrities are getting in on the action too.

Scarlett Johansson is an avid fan of Brazilian jiu-jitsu after learning it for the movie Black Widow.

Jessica Biel gets her heart rate up with a kickboxing session. And model Gigi Hadid does boxing to stay strong.

What is fuelling the interest in combat sports?

One of Australia’s most experienced mixed martial arts coaches, Denis Kelly, says karate, boxing, judo and taekwondo have always been popular.

But the Australian Combat Sports Academy co-owner has noticed an increasing uptake in a wider range of martial arts, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai.

“There has been a lot more interest as they have become more mainstream,” Denis says.

“People are seeing it on social media and it helps that celebrities are doing it, which has also helped attract more women.”

There is another simple reason combat sports are so popular, he notes — they’re fun.

“It’s hard to maintain your fitness if you’re not really looking forward to the activity,” Denis says.

“Most people who start something like Brazilian jiu-jitsu find they really enjoy doing it and will continue long term.”

Why more Aussies are stepping into the ring

Aussie boxing sensation Liam Paro discovered boxing when he was just 12.

“From that very first day I just fell in love with it,” Liam, who is aiming to become world champion this year, says.

He says Australia used to be viewed as lagging behind the UK and the US in boxing, but that perception is changing.

“We’ve got a big wave of Australian fighters at the moment now, not just competing but really dominating on the world stage,” Liam notes.

And with that publicity, interest in boxing continues to grow, with more people than ever stepping into the ring.

What are the benefits of combat sports?

Get fit and strong

“Physically, you’re going to get in top shape,” Liam says.

Studies show combat sports are a killer workout, improving muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and balance — even bone density.

Gain confidence

Denis says martial arts can help people develop confidence.

“People often tell me, ‘Since I started doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, everything else in my life has improved, because I’ve learned how to push through and challenge myself’,” he says.

He puts it down to the emphasis many of these sports have on self-improvement.

“You’ll achieve a milestone, which is great, but then you keep pushing through to get to the next, seeing how far you can push yourself,” Denis explains.

“You’re always learning, always improving.”

Build self-esteem and perseverance

A Canadian study of Brazilian jiu-jitsu participants reported the sport had changed their lives in terms of increased respect for others, perseverance, self-confidence and healthy habits.

Meanwhile, a Polish study found the benefits of karate extended to increased self-esteem, improved willpower, perseverance and discipline.

Liam says the self-discipline he developed from training has helped in other aspects of his life, including recovering from an Achilles injury.

“It was mentally testing, but I stayed disciplined, dedicated and took the steps needed to recover,” he says.

Ready to kickstart your combat sports routine?

Denis says a common misconception is you have to already be in peak physical condition to start.

“You don’t need to be fit before you start training,” he says.

“Martial arts clubs have realistic expectations when you walk in for the first time.

“They’ll guide and support you to make sure that you learn safely.”

While it might feel intimidating to walk into a boxing or martial arts gym for the first time, Liam says it is a supportive community.

“There’s minimal ego in boxing gyms; they’re actually really welcoming places,” he says.

“For anyone that wants to try, give it a go — I’m sure most people will love it.”

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Written by Bianca Carmona.