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Kickboxing for Bootcamp and Group Fitness: Should I use “Thai Pads” or a “Kick Shield”

August 10, 2022
5 minute read

Cardio Boxing has become very popular in gyms, bootcamps, personal training etc and this is usually done by

  • A: Group Fitness / Bootcamp: Pairing the Group up, one person wearing boxing gloves and one person wearing focus mitts.
  • B: Personal Training: The Trainer wearing the focus mitts and the client wearing boxing gloves. 

And these options usually work really well. 

As a Personal Trainer, if you enjoy running Boxing sessions, the next logical step from here is running Cardio Kickboxing sessions. 

However, this can get a little trickier because Kickboxing involves A LOT more technique (both for the Boxer and the Pad Holder) than Boxing… 

On top of that, if something does go wrong a lot more damage can be done with a kick than a punch. 

So if you are going to start running Kickboxing sessions, you want to make sure safety is paramount. 

Now there’s a few basic things EVERY Personal Trainer should do before taking a Kickboxing class


  • A: At minimum complete a Kickboxing CEC Course for Personal Trainers. These are great because they are tailored specifically for Personal Trainers who want to use Kickboxing Drills in a fitness setting as opposed to teaching someone how to be a Kickboxer. The limitations to these courses are that they are usually only a day or two and firstly there’s only so much you can learn in a day and secondly kickboxing is a skill you need to learn but also practise a few times before you’re ready to teach it.
  • B: Do a couple Kickboxing for Fitness classes with another Personal Trainer (who you know is qualified and good).This will allow you to practise what you learnt in your CEC course and see how another Fitness Professional teaches.
  • C: Do a couple actual Kickboxing classes at a Kickboxing / Martial Arts gym. This is a double edged sword. On the positive attending an actual Kickboxing class is great because you get to practise what you learnt in your CEC course and learn from someone who you know is an expert / professional in skill. On the other hand, what you learn in an official Kickboxing class is not always appropriate or applicable to a “Cardio Kickboxing” or “Kickboxing for Fitness” type class.
  • D: Do a couple 1 on 1 sessions with an actual Kickboxing Instructor. This is similar to the above but doing it in a one on one setting is a lot more intimate and will allow you to really master the technique. 

Once you’ve mastered the basics, the next question is… 

Do you use “Thai Pads” or Kick Shields”

Now there’s advantages and disadvantages to each and in my opinion it depends whether you are going to run a “Bootcamp / Group Class” or a “1 on 1 session”. 

Let’s compare and contrast

Thai Pads for Fitness Kickboxing

The biggest advantage of the Thai Pads is that they are great for kicking… and also great for punching. Every boxing combination or drill you know can be done with the Thai Pads AND you can add in all sorts of kickboxing drills too.

There’s two disadvantages to using Thai Pads (compared to Kick Shields)

1: They are tricky to get on and take off. If you’re running a Personal Training session and it’s just you and the client, that doesn’t really matter too much because you as the Trainer will be wearing the Pads the whole time and you don’t need to switch. In a Group Fitness / Bootcamp setting however - if there’s going to be a lot of switching between Boxer and Pad Holder, this can get time consuming and frustrating.

2: There’s quite a bit of technique involved in holding Thai Pads: Once again, if you’re running a Personal Training session and it’s just you and the client, that doesn’t really matter too much because you’ve been trained in holding the Pads and you know what you’re doing. In a Group Fitness / Bootcamp setting however - the participants haven’t been trained in holding Thai Pads so you’re going to need to spend time training them which once again can be time consuming and frustrating.

Kick Shields for Fitness Kickboxing

These are the complete opposite to the Thai Pads

The biggest DISADVANTAGE to the Kick Shields is that they are awkward to punch. They are great to kick, just as good if not better than the Thai Pads… but punching just isn’t the same. So you’re going to need to vary your workouts, drills and combinations. 

On the flip side, a couple really big advantages of the Kick Shields

1: They are so easy to take on and off - in a Group Fitness / Bootcamp setting you can literally give ZERO change over time. One participants kicks for 30 seconds and then straight away they just throw the shield over to their partner and they are now the ‘boxer’.

2: There is very little technique involved. The Pad Holder pretty much just has to hold the Kick Shield in the appropriate position. As long as they do that - there’s very little chance of injury. This is great in a Group Fitness / Bootcamp setting as you as the Trainer don’t need to spend a heap of time explaining the technique behind holding the pad.


My personal opinion is that if you’re running Kickboxing in a Group Fitness / Bootcamp setting, then Kick Shields are your better option. If you’re Kickboxing in a Personal Training setting, then Thai Pads are your better option. 

PS: If you’re a Personal Trainer and you’d like more boxing drills to use in your workouts, we have a course at Fitness Education Online - Boxing Workouts for Bootcamp and Personal Trainers. Click here to check it out. 

PPS: At Fitness Education Online, we have one of the largest Facebook Groups in the world for Personal Trainers and Fitness Professionals. Everyone in there is super supportive and we all share tips and ideas. We would love to invite you into the Group - click here to join.

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Fitness Education Online are one of the leading providers in the world when it comes to the professional development of Personal Trainers. We have over 30 registered AUSactive CEC courses.  Click here to check them out!


About The Author: Jono Petrohilos
Online Course Creator I 2020 Fitness Australia Educator of the Year

Jono is the co-founder and director at Fitness Education Online. Fitness Education Online is one of the leading providers in the world when it comes to delivering online education to Fitness Professionals, providing over 30 registered CEC courses.

Fitness Education Online is also the admins of the largest Facebook Group in Australia / New Zealand for Fitness Professionals (Fitness Education Online Community Facebook Group).

Jono is also a qualified Exercise Physiologist, best selling author (The Bootcamp Blueprint), and the host of the successful podcast “Fitness Education Online Podcast”.

Jono is the current 2020 Fitness Educator of the Year (awarded by Fitness Australia)

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