Tae Bo is an aerobic exercise routine developed by tae kwon do practitioner Billy Blanks, and was one of the first “cardio-boxing” programs to enjoy commercial success. Such programs use the motions of martial arts at a rapid pace designed to promote fitness. The name Tae Bo is a portmanteau of tae kwon do and boxing. Blanks later developed a backronym for the name as well: Total Awareness Excellence Body Obedience.
Blanks developed the routine in 1989, by combining music with elements from his tae kwon do and boxing training to form an intense workout regimen. During the 1990s, some celebrities (such as Paula Abdul) started using Blanks as their personal trainer and a series of videos were mass-marketed to the public. As a result, Tae Bo became somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon in the late 1990s. Gyms began offering kickboxing-based fitness classes similar to Tae Bo. Tae Bo videos and DVDs continue to rank among the top sellers in the fitness genre and derivative classes are still offered at many gyms.
Tae Bo classes are taught worldwide. Tae Bo includes many of the same punches and kicks as karate, but is not intended for fighting—it was not meant for any combat or self-defense applications. There are no throws, grappling moves, or ground fighting techniques in Tae Bo. Its only intent is to increase health through movement. Tae Bo also includes aerobic exercises intended to strengthen all muscles of the body with basic choreography.
The high-intensity workout is intended to increase cardiovascular fitness, strength, muscular endurance and flexibility. Recently, Blanks has offered a line of Tae Bo videos known as the “Believer’s” series that introduce Christian elements such as prayer into the workouts.
Blanks is still currently active in fitness. In 2004 and 2005 he launched another successful program called Billy Blanks BOOTCAMP. These videos dove into combining original Tae Bo moves along with rigorous training he had learned while visiting the troops overseas. Billy’s Bootcamp Elite followed the original Bootcamp with the addition and use of Bands. The bands which wrap on your feet and hands create more resistance for a different workout. Blanks has released a new line of videos, Tae Bo Amped, featuring “cardio bursts,” 30- to 60-second periods of more rapid movement for increased calorie burn, and the use of a new Amplifier bar which adds resistance to the workout.