Tae Bo is a total body fitness system that incorporates Martial Arts techniques such as kicks and punches, which became quite popular in the 1990s. It was developed by American taekwondo practitioner Billy Blanks and was one of the first "cardio-boxing" programs to enjoy commercial success. Such programs use the motions of martial arts at a rapid pace designed to promote fitness. The name Tae Bo is a portmanteau of tae kwon do and boxing. Furthermore it is a bacronym for:
- Total commitment to whatever you do
- Awareness of yourself and the world
- Excellence, the truest goal in anything you do
- (the) Body as a force for total change
- Obedience to your will and your true desire for change
Blanks developed the routine in 1976 by combining dance with elements from his martial arts and boxing training to form a workout regimen. During the 1990s, a series of videos were mass-marketed to the public; by 1999 an estimated 1.5 million sets of videos had been sold on the back of a frequently aired television infomercial. As a result, Tae Bo became somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon in the late 1990s. Gyms began offering kickboxing-based fitness classes similar to Tae Bo. Since Blanks had taken out a trademark on the name they were not allowed to use the term Tae Bo without paying a licensing fee. Tae Bo videos and DVDs continue to rank among the top sellers in the fitness genre and derivative classes are still offered at many gyms.
Tae Bo classes are taught worldwide. Tae Bo includes many of the same punches and kicks as karate, but is not intended for fighting—it was not meant for any combat or self-defense applications. There are no throws, grappling moves, or ground fighting techniques in Tae Bo. Its only intent is to increase fitness through movement. Tae Bo also includes aerobic exercises intended to strengthen all muscles of the body with basic choreography.
Because of the movements it involves, Tae Bo is effective in toning and defining the body's musculature. It can also improve one's balance, flexibility, coordination and has cardiovascular benefits. According to Blanks, the cardiovascular benefits are a result of the dance moves added to the already high-energy workout. An hour long Tae Bo workout will burn 500 to 800 calories, compared with the 300 to 400 calories burned with a more conventional aerobics class.
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