The kicks are high and you'll end up fighting fit.

Rebecca Gilbert tries out a Body Combat class

HIEEEE-YA!!!! "Come on everyone, think of your worst enemy," said Jan Davis over her microphone headset as my companions in the exercise class kicked and punched to the rousing sound of Rocky theme, Eye Of The Tiger.

A rogues' gallery of faces popped into my mind like targets on a firing range, but as I delivered yet another terminal blow to my imaginary opponent, I remembered this Body Combat class is strictly non-contact.

Straying into the fight space of any of your fellow combatees and breaking this golden rule incurs a penalty of ten press-ups in the corner of the room - a harsh fate when you're struggling for breath and already so hot that sweat is running into your eyes.

Body Combat, an hour-long workout which has been running at Courtney's fitness centre, Monks Cross, since May, was created by fitness company Les Mills International. It is based on martial arts techniques and manoeuvres designed to give you a cardiovascular workout as a refreshing alternative to aerobics, and it's a great stress buster too.

Forget doing 'sunshine arms' in front of your Jane Fonda video, this workout is packed with punches - jabs, upper cuts, hooks - kicks and side steps, to get your heart pumping at a good fat-burning rate and keep you fighting fit.

Despite the non-contact element, Jan Davis, workout co-ordinator at Courtney's, who has recently been selected as a national trainer to run masterclasses for teachers, said it is proving more popular than a 'boxercise' class held earlier in the year.

She said: "We're trying not to get people to think they're coming for kick boxing. It's a martial fitness fun class.

"We're not trying to take over from Karate or anything like that, it's to make it accessible for the general public.

"The hour just flies past because the music is brilliant and you get in there and imagine you've got an opponent. There are loads of kicks and punches and you really get a good cardiovascular workout."

Despite the hard work, the class is light-hearted and grimaces do give way to the odd smile. There are plenty of short gaps between tracks to have a sip of water, mop the sweat from your brow, and exchange encouraging looks with the others.

You don't have to be Jackie Chan to get into the rhythm of it all.

The moves become natural after a few minutes and leave you with greater confidence in your own strength, as well as an awareness of your body and personal space which can only be helpful in dealing with threatening situations.

And even the most uncoordinated of people should be able to handle the routine, which builds to combine three different types of punch with a forward shuffle and a back kick - enough to floor several opponents at once, James Bond-style - but not recommended to be used in the office.

Jan said: "It's the sort of thing that gets rid of tension if you have had a bad day at work. It's hard work but we make it as fun as possible.

"We're getting a mixture of people of all ages and abilities. It's not just for youngsters or women, we get all sorts.

"It's much better for you than going into the gym because you're working at this intensity for the entire hour - we don't stop until the last ten minutes."

At the end of the class, which I enjoyed despite being an aerobics-phobe, I asked Jan where I would ache the next day.

"Here, here, here and here," she said pointing to a large proportion of her body.

The next morning I proudly told my friends that I didn't ache at all. By lunch-time I could hardly walk and by evening picking up the TV controller made even being a couch potato a painful exercise.

But the results could be seen from just that one session and my arms in particular had more tone.

Unlike Jan, I don't think I could ever manage ten classes a week, but I'll definitely be going back for a return bout.

The class costs £3.90 and is free to Courtney's members.

For more information call Courtney's on 01904 630305.