Carlos Patalinghug fainted in a college genetics class when he saw the blood from his pricked finger. He's glad he did. If he hadn't, he might have gone to medical school, become a doctor and never created one of the newest things in exercise -- karate aerobics.
"It's a little embarrassing. I'm a martial artist," he said. "I get kicked by really big guys, you know?"
Now, instead of big guys, his mostly female aerobics class members do the kicking.
Mr. Patalinghug, 28, got the idea in his last year at the University of Baltimore. He had switched his major from pre-medicine to health science to marketing, all the while taking jazz dance classes and continuing the martial arts training he began at age 12. When he graduated in 1988, he rolled all those experiences into one and came up with karate aerobics.
"There's one thing I learned in marketing: You have to do something unique," he said.
He conducted a market survey and found that most women don't like martial arts because they don't like the discipline involved. "Also, most women love to dance, so I added a lot of jazz dance," Mr. Patalinghug said.
His new form of exercise allows his students to "have fun while learning martial arts moves," he said, and incorporates aerobics, tae kwon do, arnis, step aerobics and jazz dance, all choreographed.
Mr. Patalinghug got his aerobics instructor certification and opened Kick Connection in the 8100 block of Ritchie Highway in 1989, originally to teach karate aerobics. Later, he added tae kwon do, the Korean martial art, and arnis, the Filipino martial art using weapons such as sticks.
He said karate aerobics students lose weight, tone muscles and learn self-defense.
Liz Lowe, 36, agrees. "It's fun," she said. "You add self-confidence, self-esteem and meet great friends."
Ms. Lowe once weighed more than 280 pounds. She lost about 60 pounds on her own and in 10 months of karate aerobics has lost an additional 30 to 40 pounds.
Mr. Patalinghug said the repetition in an aerobic workout lends itself to teaching martial arts moves.
Ms. Lowe said she and Janet Love, another student, stood in the empty parking lot talking one night until 10. "Mr. Carlos locked up and said he was worried about us staying there after he left," she said. "We told him that now we can take care of ourselves."