How to get the most out of a CKO Kickboxing Class (Hitting the bag)

During a typical CKO Kickboxing class you can expect to hit the bag hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of the hour. So it should only make since that in order to get the most out of class you need to understand how to properly hit the bag. But before you can hit the bag you have to ask yourself, “are all bags created equal”? The short answer is NO…

CKO Kickboxing Seattle. Real people

Choosing a bag

When you walk into a CKO you will find that some bags are dragging on the ground while others are actually hanging.

So whats better dragging or hanging?

Well the political answer is that depends on your personal preference. However, the professionals use a “hanging bag” because the “natural” movement of the bag provides for a more realistic feel which allows the puncher to better work on his/her timing, rhythm, and control.

CKO Seattle, How to hit a CKO heavy bag

While timing and rhythm are very important (maybe a future blog post) I want to talk more about control. When a new person hits a hanging bag for the first time they might find themselves having a hard time controlling the bag. Even though our heavy bags are heavy (weighing in at 125-lbs) if they are hanging they are very easy to move. In fact on occasion we have kids classes and these kids can easily get the bag moving with minimal effort…

CKO Kickboxing Seattle David Vitale

So if a child can easily move a hanging heavy bag with just a few punches and kicks you can start to understand where the control aspect comes into play. Below is a short 10sec video of World Middle Weight Champion Canelo Alvarez throwing some hooks on a heavy bag. If you know nothing about Canelo just know this, he is considered to be one of the hardest pound for pound punchers in all of boxing. This means he can punch harder the you, me, and all the kids that have ever taken our class.

Check out the video before reading on…

Hopefully you noticed two things from the video:

  1. He is punching the bag extremely hard
  2. The bag is barely moving.

The bag is barely moving because he is snapping his punches. In other words he is hitting the bag like a “whip”, minimizing the amount of time he is actually in contact with the bag.

The big take away:

If you find yourself on a hanging heavy bag and you notice the bag swinging wildly after just a few punches then you are “pushing” your punches. So instead of “pushing” your punches take a lesson from Canelo and snap your punches. I like to imagine that the bag is extremely hot (well over 1000-degree) because the bag is so “hot” I need  minimize the amount of time my fist is in contact with the bag.

Once you start to become successful at snapping your punches you will start to notice two benefits immediately:

  1. Your punches are much harder and faster – Which makes you feel like a badass
  2. Your class enjoyment go up because well you feel like a badass

This is perfect because punching the bag harder and more class enjoyment are two key ingredients to helping you reach your fitness goals!!!

Give it a try, and if you still need help snapping your punches we offer one-on-one focus mitt sessions.

Charmaine Strom CKO Seattle


The Booty Maker (30-min Kettlebell Workout)

Welcome to the Booty Maker Workout. This short workout (30-mins or less) is guaranteed to leave you walking funny the next day! If you finish it in 15-min or less your are a legit badass!

Below is the booty maker workout in more detail.

10 rounds total:

  • Round 1 – 20 Goblet Squats + 20 Swings
  • Round 2 – 18 Goblet Squats + 20 Swings
  • Round 3 – 16 Goblet Squats + 20 Swings
  • Round 4 – 14 Goblet Squats + 20 Swings
  • ….
  • Round 10 – 2 Goblet Squat + 20 Swings

The goal is to get done as quickly as possible while maintaining good form. At the end of the workout, record your time and weight of the Kettlebell used. For future workouts, try to beat previous time or use a heavier Kettlebell

Goals for the workout

  • Finish in 15-mins or less
  • Weight of Kettlebell
    • Women 35-lbs* = Badass, 44-lbs = Elite Badass
    • Men 53-lbs* = Badass, 70-lbs = Elite Badass

* I used pounds instead of kilograms (standard used by the Kettlebell “purest”) because…AMERICA! THAT’s WHY!  

30-Min Kettlebell Workout

Short on time? Here is a quick (30-min) kettlebell workout that can be done anywhere (home or gym)…

Here are the details of the workout:

Kettlebell Workout 1


7-min AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) – 2, 3, 5 Press (each side) + 10 Goblet Squats

  • More detail – 2 press with the right arm, then 2 press with the left arm, then 10 Goblet squats. Then 3 press with right arm, 3 press with left arm, 10 goblet squats. Then 5 press with right arm, 5 press with left arm, 10 goblet squats. Then start over again (2, 3, 5) continue non-stop for 7-mins. Count and record how many rounds you complete.

Rest 1:30

7-min AMRAP – 5 Windmill (each side) + 12 Swings (Hardstyle)

  • More detail – 5 windmills with right, 5 windmills with left, then 12 hardstyle swings for as many rounds as possible in 7-mins. Count and record how many rounds you complete.

Rest 1:30

7-min AMRAP – 5 clean and squat (each side) + 5 explosive pushups (2 sec hold at bottom)

  • More detail – 5 clean and squat (swing clean preferred but floor clean is OK) with right, 5 clean and squat with left, then 5 explosive push-ups with 2-sec hold at bottom. Count and record how many rounds you complete.

 Rest 1:30

5-min (Finisher) – 5 snatches (each side)

  • As many (snatch) reps as possible for 5-mins. Do 5 snatched on the right, then 5 snatches on the left. The goal is to go for the entire 5-mins without putting the kettlebell down. Your forearms will be ON FIRE!!! Count and record how many snatch reps you complete.

Goals of workout:

  • Maintain good form through out workout
  • Count and record reps or rounds and each time you do the workout try to improve your “score”.
  • Once the workout seems relativity “easy” select the next size Kettlebell (“bell-up”)
  • Have fun and push yourself


Hey “New Guy”, Shut-up and Listen!

Have you ever been the “new guy”? I bet you have. Remember when you started that new job, what about when you joined a new soccer team, or remember trying that new hobby/activity for the first time. At some point we have all been there, we have all been the “new guy” and unless you are scared of leaving your precious comfort zone, there is a very good chance that at some point in the near future you will once again be the “new guy”. Being the “new guy” is actually a great experience, it can be very exciting and at the same time very humbling. Humbling experiences teach us a great deal about ourselves. But at the same time being the new guy is no easy task and it can be very stressful because everyone is “sizing you up”. Everyone is making predictions on your performance. Right or wrong everyone makes snap judgments about the “new guy”. “Is this person the real deal or are they a faker”? “Is this person in it for the long haul or are they going to quit once it gets hard? 

New guy

Like it or not, these snap judgments are in-bedded in our DNA. It is based on a survival mechanism that our ancestors used all the time.  “Is that a lion or a bush”? “Does that river look safe to cross”? “Should I drink/eat that”? “Does this tribe seem friendly or hostile”? “That brightly colored snake looks creepy, better stay away”! In fact one can argue that without these snap judgments, the human species may have gone extinct a long time ago. However, at this current point in our evolution we have yet to out grow our profiling instincts, sorry to break it to you but we haven’t yet reached that perfect “judgment free” hippy utopia. So instead of arguing whether snap judgments are right or wrong you should be-aware that they in fact do exist, and you should try to use these judgments to your advantage or at the very least learn how to not let these snap judgments be your down fall.        

The worst mistake many people make when being the “new guy” is they don’t stop talking. Let’s use soccer as an example since I played on the same adult team for 11-years! Over those years I saw countless players come and go and the most annoying/disappointing players were always the once that kept talking, they talked about how good they were, they talked about playing in college, they talked about how awesome their old team was, they gave their opinions about our players, they gave their opinions about our team strategy and many times this was even before they played one game with our team…

Let your actions do your talking

Let your actions do your talking

Here’s the thing…no one cares about what you have to say (at least not on day one), we only care about performance! If you are actually good, guess what, people will notice. Hell when it came to soccer I could tell if someone was “all that” after just a few touches on the ball. This means that when you are the new guy, stop talking and let your actions do all the talking for you and if you are actually as good as you think you are, it won’t take long till people notice. Once you have proven yourself people will ask/want to hear your opinions, they will eventually ask about your story. But until someone asks, just shut-up, listen and perform.


I have to give you one more example because it is just too good. A few months ago we were hiring for the front desk position. One of our stipulations is that you must take at least 3-classes before we start the formal interview process. Why? Because we are a specialty gym, if you don’t like our workout, or our “gym culture” you will not be a good fit. It is worth noting that these classes were free of charge and it was also made very clear that they (the job applicants) were not being “graded” on technique, stamina, strength or any other physical attribute, we just want to make sure that;  1) they can follow directions, and 2) that they liked our gym. The plan was to just treat them like any other new person that walks through our doors.  Think of it like this, would you work at a taco stand if you hated tacos? I sure hope not because if you do you are crazy.

But when the applicants step through our doors it is amazing how many of them talk themselves out of a job within the first 5-mins. Why? Because instead of listening to what we have to say they keep talking. Is it a coincidence that we have 2-ears and one mouth?  Here is true story:

  • Random hipster girl applying for job – (Arrives 10-mins late)  “Hi, I am applying for the front desk job, I am here to take my first class.”
  • MeGreat! Please fill out this wavier and then I will introduce you to the instructor for your orientation. 
  • Random hipster girl applying for job – “Oh, I don’t need to warm-up, I rode my bike here”
  • Me – “That’s great (rolling my eyes)! However, all new people must do an orientation before taking a class, it is a safety issue and class is starting in 10-mins, so let’s get going” 
  • Random hipster girl applying for job – (At this point she doing downward dog) “Well I don’t do anything till I stretch first…”
  • Me – “We will stretch you out as part of the warm-up but you need to get an orientation of the basic strikes before taking a class, it is a requirement for everyone”
  • Random hipster girl applying for job – (Transitioning to warrior-one pose and holding for a good 5-secs) “Ok I am ready now”

Sadly this was not a one time occurrence. We had about 6 applicants come take the class, all but one (the person who got the job) kept talking. They told us about their martial arts experience, they told us how they were taught to throw punches, they told us this and they told us that but never once did they actually listen to what we had to say.

wise men


This got me thinking there are definitely times in life where the best thing to do is just shut-up and listen and being the “new guy” is definitely one of those time for a few reasons:

  1. No one cares about what you did in the past – Life is a game of what have you done for me lately. How many people used to be in shape? How many people used to own a business? The world is full of used-to-could’s. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong about discussing your past but remember it doesn’t matter what you used to be able to do, the only thing that counts is what you are doing now! You can tell your boss that you are always on time but that statement has no value until you prove to him/her that you are in fact always on time. Let your actions do the talking.
  2. You may actually learn something – What a crazy concept! Wait you mean to tell me that I could learn something from someone who has more experience then me? Yes but I am also telling you that you could actually learn something from someone that even has less experience than you! It is true! In fact the majority of successful people will tell you that you can learn something from anyone in just about any situation. Maybe you get a different perspective or maybe you realize how annoying a certain mannerism can be. If you have an open mind and you are willing to analyze yourself there is something to be learned from every situation you encounter.
  3. You don’t want to over promise and under deliver – This goes for job interviews or just being the new guy in a “tight knit group”. Stop telling everyone how good you are and instead show everyone. Here is the crazy thing, if you are actually good people will notice very quickly. The more you talk the higher you are raising your own bar and the higher the bar the more likely you will fail to reach this bar. If I had a dollar for every time an employee told me they are never late, and their only flaw is that they work too hard and care too much… Well we know how this story usually ends don’t we. Don’t get me wrong I am not telling you to lower your standards I am telling you to instead under promise and over deliver. To be successful in life you must do more than is asked of you and if you tell me you can do something, I am going to believe you and that “belief” now becomes my new expectation of your performance.

Being the “new guy” is awesome, it means you are expanding your horizons, it means you are stepping out of your comfort zone. But never forget that it is human nature to judge and analyze the “new guy” so I challenge you to stop talking about yourself, and instead practice laying low, practice being humble, listen to the rules, learn about the group dynamics and most importantly show up and give 100% effort on a consistent basis. If you practice this I guarantee the group will accept you quicker and before you know it, they will ask you all about your past experiences. Once this happens–You can start talking 😉






Time for a Change? Personal 30-day challenge

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. But, this is nothing new, I am sure you have heard this, hell, I am sure you have said this on occasion. However, this definition of insanity is not just a quote it is a law of the universe. It’s just like the law of gravity, what goes up, must come down, we can’t argue these statements, we know they are true. But in the fitness world people love to challenge these “truths” of the universe. Everyday thousands of gym go’ers try to disprove this definition of insanity. For them everyday is groundhog’s day, they do the same thing over and over and over again, hoping that, this time, their results will be different. Ironically, each and every time these same gym go’ers are seriously shocked at their lack of progress. This resistance to change is especially strong when it comes to nutrition.

Well it's Groundhog day...Again!

Well it’s Groundhog day, again… and I am still not giving up sugar!

Twice a year we do a 10-week challenge at my gym. This 10-week challenge is more than a “challenge”, it is a lifestyle transformation program, and by far the hardest part for most of the challengers, is changing their relationship with food. Why is this so hard? Because they have to kick their sugar addiction, and increase their saturated fat intake. Yes, you read that right, increase their saturated fat intake. So, if the though of that makes you want to load up another insulin shot or choke down another statin, you can easily sympathize with why this maybe a hard change for the 10 week challengers.


But just because it is hard, does not mean it is impossible. So I will ask you just like I have asked the 10 week challengers. Are you happy with the condition of  your health (What about over the last few/several years)? Do you feel healthy? What about your weight, would you feel confident telling someone how much you weigh? What about the zombie apocalypse are you ready? Would you be impressed with yourself? If not, then why are you afraid to make a change? WHY?! What you did before has clearly not worked so why, oh why, would you continue to eat the same way? Remember the definition of insanity?!?!?


But I really don’t want to hear your answer to any of those questions, I just want to see action. So if you are not happy with your health I want to challenged you, just like I challenged the 10-week challengers. I challenge you to change the way you eat for 30 days! I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and CHANGE up your old habits! I challenge you because it is 100% possible to become healthier, lose excess body fat, and have more energy but you have to be willing to change!

Remember these words:

If you want change in your life, you have to make changes in your life.

How to eat? Start here!




How to wrap your hands

Protecting your hands is extremely important. In fact we highly recommend that you always warp your hands before you hit the bag. Hand wraps protect knuckles from both cuts, provide extra “padding” for impact, provide wrist support, and make your hand more of a “solid” object. So not only do hand wraps protect your hands believe it or not they actually improve your workout. Having your hands protected allows you to strike the bag much harder which then translates to more muscle toning and more calories burnt!

At CKO we prefer using MMA style gloves (fingerless) and because of the smaller gloves we need smaller wraps. We use 108-inch Mexican style wraps.

Now their is no one way to wrap your hands and this is just one method. The most important aspect of wrapping hands is to wrap your knuckles 3-5 times and get that criss- cross (x) 0n the back of your hand as that helps with wrist support.

While we are always more than happy to help you in the gym we recommend you watch the video and practice at home. After a few times you will be a hand wrapping pro! This video shows a very simple way to wrap your hands.