I Take Fitness Kickboxing at my Gym; That Counts as Self-Defense, Right?
In short-- no. Group classes such as fitness kickboxing (or whatever the gym wants to call it) have cropped up in gyms all over the country because of their massive popularity. While I will always be a proponent for workout routines that effectively get people off their couches in a safe and effective manner, the notion that these classes can translate to real-world self-defense is deeply mistaken. The main reason is that these classes focus almost entirely on movement rather than technique.
As with every other workout known to man, strong adherence to proper mechanics brings the best results. Although your typical Jane or Bobby might not have any interest in competing in combat sports, proper mechanics remains beneficial. As mentioned earlier, the main priority in fitness kickboxing is getting people to move, so, what this means is that there is hardly any power behind those punches and kicks. If in an unavoidable situation where self-defense must be applied, these poor mechanics will not be of any benefits.
So, does this mean that I do not endorse fitness kickboxing? Nope. As mentioned earlier, I will always support safe and effective fitness routines, but learning the proper way to throw a good jab or roundhouse kick gets my full-fledged stamp of approval. With proper technique, individuals can throw those punches and kicks with great force, which means more energy is involved in throwing them; hence, more calories are burned. Also, if worse comes to worse, a stinging jab could get would-be attackers to second guess their decision.
My recommendation: keep signing up for those fitness kickboxing classes and take a couple classes at a dedicated kickboxing gym to get the full benefit. Even if you never face attackers or fight at a kickboxing tournament, using proper technique is the best way to preventing unwanted injuries and getting the most out of your workouts.