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Christine Hennebury
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Lady Kickboxer students learn fitness and self-defence

I'm not sure what I expected from Mike Foley's Lady Kickboxer class, but I did not imagine I'd be running barefoot at top speed while AC/DC thundered in the background.

I like to exercise, but I never run unless I'm being chased. But there was just something about the combination of challenge and camaraderie in Foley's classroom that made me want to participate fully.

Jennifer Stokes practises her kicks while her friend Dawn Langdon holds the pad. - Photo by Christine Hennebury/Special to The Telegram

I'm not sure what I expected from Mike Foley's Lady Kickboxer class, but I did not imagine I'd be running barefoot at top speed while AC/DC thundered in the background.

I like to exercise, but I never run unless I'm being chased. But there was just something about the combination of challenge and camaraderie in Foley's classroom that made me want to participate fully.

Foley, who owns and operates Foley's Martial Arts, started the Lady Kickboxer class about two years ago and the program includes a combination of fitness and self-defence skills.

"First of all, they get a great workout, getting very good technical instruction in the art of kickboxing," he said of his students.

"They are learning and developing the confidence that they have basic skills that would give them a chance to defend themselves adequately. They know how to throw a punch - a right cross; they know how to throw a round kick."

100 students

Foley estimates that between their three locations, he and his sons (who are also instructors), have close to 100 female kickboxing students and the number is growing all the time, because his students tend to bring friends along.

Students attend classes at least twice per week and up to four times a week if they wish. Most are between 25 and 45, and they range from bank managers to social workers, teachers to students. The thing they have in common is their desire to kick their exercise routine up a notch.

"They are outgoing people and they are all interested in a good workout, but they want to go plus. The women here really want to add the fitness component to the self-defence component. Kickboxing works where it's a good workout but there's no nonsense to it," Foley said.

His students back that up.

"I was looking for a class to get in shape," says Judy Chaytor, an inventory control specialist leader at Wal-Mart.

"I tried a lot of other exercise places and I didn't like (them), but I found this place to be everything I wanted. I like the endurance."

Dawn Langdon, who works for Eastern Health agrees.

"I worked out at gyms before, but it was hard to stay committed to that, but here you are learning a new skill and it keeps you committed because you are learning something new every time," she said.

She was one of the students who enjoyed the class so much she brought a friend along.

"I've always been kind of interested in kickboxing and my friend Dawn brought me into it." says that friend - Jennifer Stokes, a teacher.

"I really enjoy the work and it's a great class for me. It's a great cardio workout and it makes you feel more confident."

Foley said the students' positive attitude make classes fun and challenging, but his own obvious enthusiasm undoubtedly contributes to the friendly atmosphere.

"I like the energy they bring, and being able to help them develop their skills, and I like the education I'm getting from them," he said.

Chaytor said she's already found that the classes have benefited her on the job.

"I find at work, that nothing really bothers you at much," she said. "Because it's a stress-reliever, you look at life a little bit different."

Kickboxing students say newcomers don't need to worry about having to catch up.

"You can come here and work at your own pace," said Ruby Hearn, who works at Royal Bank. "It's all about the individual and how far you want to take and go with it ..."

Langdon agrees.

"We get new members almost every class. We have a great time," she said. "If someone comes in, they are welcome. We carry on and turn on AC/DC and play around. It's kind of fun - we're pretty friendly. Mr. Foley rocks!"

Organizations: AC/DC, Foley's, Wal-Mart

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