AF asks: “What about Tae Bo for exercise?”
Tai Bo is the forerunner for kickboxing, an aerobic exercise craze that debuted in the 1990s. It was created by Billy Blanks, a seven-time world karate champion and black belt in six martial arts. Blanks put the program together in the late 70’s in the basement of his home in Erie, Pennsylvania, and was encouraged by friends to open up his own studio in Sherman Oaks, California.
Calling his workout Tae Bo – which derives from the words Tae Kwon Do and boxing – he eventually made himself a fortune teaching it to the stars. He claims this workout is good for mind, body and soul, but from what I can see, the “soul” aspect is nothing more than the use of Scripture passages to motivate people.
For instance, in a (very over-the-top) infomercial he produced in the late 90’s, shots of a tae bo session in progress show biblical messages on the wall such as “Walk With Faith And Not Sight” and “Faith Without Works Is Dead.” Time Magazine also depicted him as working out on a stage with a big “God is Good” sign in the background. Apparently, Blanks like to mix some faith into his workouts, but it’s really not about exhorting people to follow Christ (unfortunately). It’s more like using the verses to encourage people to press on.
Blanks does like to claim that God put him on the earth to propagate Tae Bo, and various people interviewed in the infomercial refer to the spiritual aspects of the exercise, saying things like, “It’s going to teach you how to reach inside, grab your spirit, and take it, and take over the outside,” but I saw nothing distinctly New Age in it.
Of course, this does not preclude the possibility of an instructor inserting their own brand of spirituality into a Tae Bo class, but this can happen in any fitness class, especially these days when eastern spiritualities have become so prevalent.
The biggest warning I can give you about Tae Bo is that it is an extremely rigorous form of aerobic exercise that is not for the faint-hearted!