By Shannon Russell
Enquirer staff writer
D.J. Leopold and his grandmother, Bonnie Hedrick, jabbed, bobbed and weaved like prizefighters, then kicked as high as their legs would go.
But once they mounted giant exercise balls during Family Kickboxing at Town & Country Sports Complex Wednesday night, D.J. couldn't stop sliding off. Or cracking up.
"I never knew exercise could be so much fun," Leopold said to his grandmother.
Hedrick smiled. She didn't know exercise could be so much fun - together.
That's the goal behind the class, which unites people of all ages and both genders in 45 minutes of fitness each week. Town & Country President Kevin Molony said group kickboxing, spinning, Pilates and martial arts classes are part of an exercise vision to bring families together.
"In today's lifestyle, people have trouble working in family and exercise," Molony said. "This is one more way to stay healthy."
Although Alexandria residents Leopold and Hedrick have bonded over water aerobics, they thought kickboxing would be a fun alternative for weight loss. They were among 15 in the class, taught Wednesday by group fitness instructor Julie Aldred.
From simulated jump rope to footwork and upper cuts, Aldred's routine is designed for entrants of any exercise level, "whether you're 8 or 80."
"We thought, this is a way a family can motivate each other, so one's not stuck playing video games or watching TV," Aldred said. "With the boxing aspect we wanted to appeal to little boys, too. It's not too dancy, not too choreographed."
Participants partnered up and faced each other, mother-to-daughter and grandmother-to-grandson. A play-fighting routine called one side to punch and retreat, the other to block and kick.
"Punch your mom! Then scoot back," Aldred said through her headset as the class moved to music.
Southgate resident Paige Birkenhauer, 8, giggled. She and her mother, Angie, were in the midst of their first kickboxing class.
"It's a good workout," Angie Birkenhauer said afterward.
Hedrick, who has back trouble, couldn't join much in the exercise ball portion of the class. She and D.J. battled the plastic balls for 10 minutes before abdominal exercises and cool-down.
Even though she and her grandson "don't know our right foot from our left," they said the class offered a rare opportunity.
"D.J. and I don't get to do a lot of things together," Hedrick said. "This is our way to connect."
Kick it with your family