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Kicking off the new semester

Georgia State offers a multitude of interesting fitness classes for students that are looking to get a more unorthodox workout. During the first two weeks of the fall semester, Georgia State Recreation Services allows students to sample any of the classes provided. The Signal decided to sample the signature ‘Kickboxing’ class, one of the more exclusive fitness classes offered at Georgia State.

Kickboxing begins with fast-paced cardio led by Georgia State’s professional instructor, Erick Heegaard. Also known by his MMA nickname, the “Detroit Destroyer,” Heegard has wrestled in major kickboxing competitions around the world. Heegaard said Georgia State’s large, ambitious student body attracted him to downtown Atlanta.

“There’s a lot of people interested in hard work here,” Heegard said. “They really enjoy learning here and in the seven years I’ve been here it’s always been fun. There’s always full classes.”

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Heegard also said Georgia State’s current kickboxing classes are some of the most exclusive programs in the state.

“We’re the only school that has a mixed martial arts program offered to students, so it’s really special,” Heegard said. “I started it four years ago and ever since then it’s been an amazing experience.”

After entering the room, students must remain off of the mats until they remove their shoes. Only bare feet and socks are allowed in the dojo and students must also put on a pair of boxing gloves for the sparring activities. It’s recommended that students bring water with them to the room, because the high rate of activity soon to follow causes profuse sweating and bouts of exhaustion.

Heegard takes a few moments to introduce himself and explain how he operates his class before any activity begins. After directing students from jumping jacks to high knees, the cardio is strenuous and rapid-fire. Timed abdominal exercises like scissor kicks and leg-ups are also a staple of the warm up, timed in 30-second intervals. Once the blood gets flowing, Heegard barks out the next orders, his thirty second timer blaring boisterously in the background.

“Rapid fire jabs in the front! Thirty seconds!” Heegard drawls. “Crossing jabs in the back! Roundhouse kicks at the bags!”

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Instantly, a flurry of punches and kicks erupt in the packed room. The temperature of the room rises as students groan and pant at the Detroit Destroyer’s regimen.

Students are taught the basic techniques of kickboxing in the class, from simple jab punches to strenuous roundhouse kicks. Breathing exercises are also an integral part of the training, with emphasis on deep breaths between repetitions and constant hydration. Heegard claims that although he’s teaching self-defense, kickboxing is about more than just knowing how to beat someone up.

“Kickboxing class is about more than just learning how to fight. It’s about getting good exercise and becoming more confident in yourself. When you take the class, you get a great workout every time and you’re learning how to defend yourself for emergency situations,” he said.

Students can attend kickboxing classes on Mondays at 12 p.m., Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.

Watch the Detroit Destroyer’s videos at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nGy4nBl1SU