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FULL POWER, FULL PATATE.  Everything is PATATE.  Always FULL POWER.  Welcome to the complete disconnection. – Claude Tshisekedi

I had the privilege of working with Claude Tshisekedi in Brussels.  He is a gregarious, outspoken, slightly-perverted Congolese native, who became karate champion of France back in the late 90’s.  He now uses his extensive expertise in both karate and kickboxing to whip his many Brussels-area students into shape.  I sat down with Claude to discuss the benefits of fitness boxing: all the whys, ifs and what have yous.  The interview is in French, so make sure to click the CC option on the video if you want to see the English translation.  Or, read the transcript below.  After that, be sure to watch Fitness Boxing 101 with Claude (scroll down) to learn how to get started.  You’ll be kicking and punching sh*t in no time!


Me: Introduce yourself and tell us what you do!

Claude: My name is Claude Tshisekedi. I am a former martial arts competitor in Karate and Kickboxing. I studied sports education and am originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am now a master trainer in Belgium.  

Me: You were karate champion of France.  Describe your physical and mental preparation.  How did you become the best?

Claude: Thanks alot.  I have done a lot of competitions, it’s true,  but to say that I am the best…

Me: One of the best!  

Claude: Thanks for saying that!  As far as titles go, I have earned many titles from adolescence to now, but the most marked ones are: my first experience participating in the Karate World Championships, in 1996, in Sun CIty (South Africa), my second participation in the Karate World Championships in 1998 in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, and the different competitions I did in France. My first competition competing nationally in Paris, organized by the FFT Federation, I came in first and second in team.  I have earned many titles, but what matters to me most are not titles, but that I gave it my best, and the feelings I experienced in those moments.  As far as concentration goes or how I was able to focus, I believe it is thanks to my professors, the awesome professors that I have had in my life.  I don’t think that I am a very disciplined person naturally, but I worked with coaches who kept a firm grip on me, and who pushed me to compete at championships. So it is thanks to great teachers.

Me: What are the benefits of fitness boxing in comparison to other, more traditional training methods?

Claude: There are many aspects that are very different from other fitness methods, but there is a convergence in terms of physical and mental benefits.  As far as fitness boxing goes, there is a great psychological benefit for someone who works all day.  It is a complete stress reliever.  A great way to let off steam.  Secondly, there is the muscular aspect, because you work all muscles of the body at once.  Everything at the same time.  Total body.  There is not one particular choreography to follow, as opposed to other fitness methods.  In fitness boxing, whether collective classes or 1-on-1, there is no obligatory choreography to follow.  The routine is adapted to the individual.  In the past, people adapted to a sport.  Nowadays it is the inverse.  The sport should adapt to the person.  Every person is different.  We are not obligated to create a standard training for everyone.  That is the advantage of fitness boxing.  It can be practiced by anyone of any age, no matter their level.  It is very accessible to everyone.

Me: You mentioned that boxing can be practiced by beginners who have never done sport.  There isn’t a base level they should have to start?

Claude: There is no base level. A person who wants to do fitness boxing is not obligated to have any experience in combat sports.  We have taught many people here.  Some of them went on to compete in kickboxing, Muay Thai, traditional boxing and even grappling.  They discovered something dormant inside them that they nurtured and developed.   You don’t have to have been a champion in combat sports.  It is accessible to everyone.    

Me: How often should you train per week if you want to progress quickly?

Claude: As I mentioned earlier, using today’s fitness methods, training adapts to each person and their occupation.  If someone is very busy and can’t find time to train more than one time per week, we work around that.  With time, they will improve.  But, on average, if you train two times per week, you will easily obtain results within 2-3 months.   

Me: I have noticed that there are a lot of women who are interested in fitness boxing.  Is there any particular reason for that to be the case?

Claude:  First off, there is the trend phenomenon.  Fitness boxing has become a trend. There is also the idea of discovery.  There are a lot of preconceptions about boxing: it’s very masculine, very violent, it’s not technical, it’s all about who hits the hardest, it’s reserved for men, etc.. Boxing is actually very functional.  We don’t box with just the arms. The entire body moves together, in synergy, to create a good jab or a good cross.  Yes, fitness boxing has become a trend, but it also works really well for women because many women don’t have a hobby.  It’s just work, sleep and family life.  When they start doing fitness boxing, it is a great stress-reliever.  It’s good for the mind, you feel good, and it’s also great for losing weight.  Everything that people search for in a fitness routine – to lose weight, to firm up, become more muscular – all of that can be achieved through fitness fighting.

Me:  What equipment would you need to buy in order to start?

Claude: Practicing fitness boxing with me is different than with some other fitness boxing concepts, where people punch into the air (which isn’t great for their joints in the long term).  I use punching mitts with my students.  They should have a pair of boxing gloves and wrist wraps to protect their wrist joints.  In fitness boxing there are two groups.  There are those who don’t want to kick, so they only need gloves. Those who want to practice kicks should also get shin guards.  

Me:  Boxing gloves are weighted.  What weight would you recommend for beginners?

Claude: As far as glove weight is concerned, you should consult with the retailer, who can provide you with information. You should at least get a glove that is tight around your wrist.  In general, women usually use 8oz-10oz gloves and men 12oz-14oz.  

Me:  Imagine that I’m a new student and I’d like to learn how to box.  What would you teach me in the first lesson?

Claude: The first question I would ask you would be what is your objective in coming to this gym?  The majority often say they want to lose weight…

Me: Let’s say I want to lose weight.

Claude: What type of work are you doing?  

Me: A professional.

Claude:  So you are always in front of a computer.  You spend a lot of your day sitting.  A general scenario for this type of person is that this person goes from sitting all day in their office to sitting in the car…they are always sitting. This person also spends a lot of time thinking and using their brain.  When this person arrives at the gym, they want to decompress, de-stress.  They want to disconnect with the daily grind.  The key is to disconnect with the daily grind. The person should feel like they’re entering a playful environment. When a person comes to the gym to train, at first it is out of necessity. If it still feels like just a necessity after 6 months, the person will stop. Training has to become pleasurable, like a drug. Even if we don’t have the time (to go to the gym) we do it at home.  It is our mission, as personal trainers, whether for fitness boxing or not, to help people make sport become a habit, so they can disconnect and forget about their problems (bills, car, etc.).  Forget about everything, all of it, and be able to have fun. That is the purpose of a good personal trainer.

Me: Can we do a demonstration?

Claude: Of course!  Anytime, whenever, wherever.  Our saying is FULL POWER, FULL PATATE.  Everything is PATATE.  Always FULL POWER.  Welcome to the complete disconnection.


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