Kickboxing proponents laud results

Chet Litteral, 16, and his mother Chris right) from Independence take part in a kickboxing class at East Coast Karate Academy in Moon Monday, April 28, 2014.
Chet Litteral, 16, and his mother Chris right) from Independence take part in a kickboxing class at East Coast Karate Academy in Moon Monday, April 28, 2014.
Photo by Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Jumping jacks, crunches and pushups. Kicking boxing bags and punching with boxing gloves.

An evening spent kickboxing last week had some of the 16 participants dripping with sweat at the East Coast Karate Academy in Moon.

Owner Curtis Jordan of Moon has offered kickboxing along with karate classes at the academy for more than 15 years. The class uses some karate forms but is for people “who don't want the contact and hands-on work” that karate provides, particularly in its more advanced stages, he said.

“They don't have to get involved (in contact with another person); they're mainly in it for the exercise,” Jordan said. “It's a tremendous workout, not just for your upper or lower body, but a combination of both. … It's designed to get you into shape, whether you are athletically inclined or not athletically inclined.”

Both types of students were in the recent class, which had about a dozen female and four male participants.

Irene Trello, 52, of Moon has been taking the class for 12 years, along with karate, in which she holds a brown belt.

“Kickboxing is fun cardio,” she said. “It's a slower pace (than karate), focusing on the technique of martial arts.”

Chris Litteral, 47, of Independence started kickboxing two months ago.

“I wasn't exercising” previously, she said. “He (Jordan) is understanding when I can't do all the crunches.”

Litteral takes the class with her son, Chet, 16, who has a black belt in karate. The teen “takes this to help his mom get in shape,” his mother said.

The group warmed up by raising and lowering their arms and doing leg lifts and leg flutters, along with elbow-to-knee crunches and touching toes while lying on their backs.

“Our warmup is some people's workout,” said Lisa Luttner, 46, of Sewickley, who has taken the classes for five years. “It's total body conditioning.”

Working out next to her was Andy Morgan, 54, of Moon, who said he lost 30 pounds in the seven years he has taken kickboxing.

The class involves leg kicks to the bag, as well as arm punches and jumping jacks with boxing gloves on.

Sean Veard, 39, of West Mifflin studied karate with Jordan 20 years ago when he lived in nearby Coraopolis. Now, he sometimes travels 90 minutes to Moon to take the class for health reasons. He had a heart attack at age 35 and underwent open-heart surgery.

Since he resumed exercise with kickboxing, Veard said lost 40 pounds and 6 inches from his waist, “and it's keeping my diabetic numbers down.”

Kickboxing is keeping him moving, Veard said. “I don't want to drift off into lethargy and do nothing,” he said.

The class employs some exercises Jordan used in training as a member of the U.S. Olympic karate team. Jordan said one of his teammates was fitness guru and actor Billy Blanks, with whom Jordan competed all over the United States and abroad. Blanks later parlayed the training forms into Tae Bo, a series of videos he sold on TV.

Jordan's daughter, Brittany, 22, who has taken karate since she was 3 and earned a black belt, is a member of the class. No longer a karate student, she has taken kickboxing for seven years.

“I think it's great,” the recent college graduate said. “It keeps me in shape.”

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.

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