iLoveKickboxing's Sarah Stallings

Sarasota kickboxing enthusiasts have a new place to hit the bag. A new studio, iLoveKickboxing, opened last year in the Rosemary District.

The studio provides an intense cardio workout led by trainers and coaches, and the classes provide attendees with an opportunity to relieve stress, lose weight, make friends and gain knowledge about kickboxing.

I recently took a noon class led by Sarah Stallings, the personal trainer who manages the studio, and it was an amazing experience. I’ve taken other kickboxing classes in Sarasota, but this class might be my favorite. When I walked in, Stallings greeted me, I filled out some liability paperwork and, 15 minutes later, the class began.

Stallings spoke through a microphone headset, which reminded me of intense fitness classes on television or one of those infomercial-esque weight-loss exercise videos my mom used to watch. Stallings guided us through a warmup that included jogging around the room, side shuffles and several rounds of squats and burpees.

Next came the cool-down, which included several stretches, including a split stretch I could not do. I’ve never done a split in my life and it wasn’t going to happen the day I took the class, but I never felt uncomfortable, and that's what I liked most about the class and the instructor. I didn’t feel like anyone was judging me, and Stallings never said anything to make me feel like I was being pushed. She encouraged me to go at my own pace, and created a judgement-free environment.

The third part of the class included several rounds of kickboxing, which was a lot of fun. I enjoyed kicking the bag and learning the routines, but I need to get stronger and find more aggression. I am a natural observer, so the best part for me was watching some of the more experienced class attendees and Stallings hit the bag with uppercuts and round-house kicks.

After the class was over, I signed up to take more lessons. The cool boxing gloves that come with the purchase of a starter package are an awesome perk and a great incentive.

iLoveKickboxing is located at 1454 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. For more info, call (941) 803-8483 or visit the studio's website.

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