When you see the word ‘boxing’, what springs to mind? Sylvester Stallone? Eye Of The Tiger? Silk bath robes? (That’s what they are, right?) Let’s face it, beautiful supermodels, a lean physique and not a black eye in sight isn’t what you’d normally associate with one of the most dangerous sports in the world.
But that’s exactly what’s happening in gym’s all over the world as Sport England reports that the number of women taking part in boxing once a week has increased by 30 percent since 2005. Gone are the days of dusty boxing rings and a cigar-smoking trainers – it’s all about luxe gyms, fun atmospheres and a strong, sculpted body. Move over Sly, we’re all feeling a million dollars, baby.
On the ropes
Predominantly recognised as a male-only sport, boxing has come to the forefront of fitness since the Victoria Secret supermodels credited the contact class with honing their catwalk-worthy physiques into strong, sculpted figures almost three years ago. Fast forward to 2015 and the famous Gotham Gym (othamgymnyc.com) in New York where a new trend is growing thanks to the next generation of supers and celebrities who are showcasing their jabs and hooks for their strong social media audience. And suddenly we have a new fitness movement.
“Our boxing classes are often 100 percent sold out these days,” says Pip Black, founder of Frame gym (moveyourframe.com). “There’s definitely been an increase in Framers wanting to use gloves and punch bags.” So why are we suddenly channelling our inner Rocky?
“I think the popularity has increased because A-list celebrities and top models have made it feel more glamorous and less intimidating. A lot of people may have been put off by having to go to an old-school boxing club which is heavily male dominated, but now places are offering good quality classes and people are getting hooked,” Pip tells us. “It’s the best adrenaline rush – you just want more and more!”
Glutton for punishment
It may sound extreme but the biggest advantage to start boxing isn’t actually having an excuse to buy a new pair of boots; it’s the physical and mental benefits. “Boxing really is the best sport – not only for increasing self-esteem and confidence, but also for relieving stress, anxiety and depression,” says Cathy Brown (cathybrown.co.uk) former professional boxer and personal trainer at The Third Space Gym (thethirdspace.com). “Boxing isn’t about aggression, it’s about staying relaxed in the storm. The impact of hitting the pads releases serotonin (a neuro chemical that maintains mood balance) and has an overall calming effect.” A tempting notion the next time your boss doesn’t follow through on that pay rise… again. But how will this affect how you look? “To start with, it’s a whole body workout – you’re working your heart to the max with HIIT intervals, whilst also working on more sustained cardio throughout the whole class,” Pip tells us. “Although classes vary, you’ll often be doing additional exercise circuits inbetween reps such as jumping jacks, burpees, crunches and squats to work your body from head to toe. You’re also working on power, strength, co-ordination and flexibility.
Throwing punches engages muscles in your shoulders, back and abs that you probably never knew existed, without having to do reps of weights. As you’re working in all planes of motion, you’re burning a huge amount of calories and will see results very quickly. It’s important to take the time to stretch afterwards to keep muscles long and flexible.”
Beat them to the punch
Starting a new fitness regime can be daunting at the best of times, but when a new technique is involved it’s easy to duck out and hit your regular Zumba class. “A lot of people feel that they have to be fit before starting boxing, but no other training can get you prepared for boxing other than boxing itself,” Cathy explains. “To be honest, it’s going to be hard the first time, whether you’re fit or not, but that’s the beauty of it – seeing and feeling those results. I would advise that you do your research on the club and the instructor first, go to a class, watch and see if you like how they are teaching, talk to the instructor and see what class they advise given your experience.”
Ok, you’ve found the right class, you’re ready to go, when a horrifying thought enters your head: what if you actually do hit like a girl? “If you’re nervous about the technique, then a class with punch bags is going to be better than having a partner with pads as the bag doesn’t move and you’re not going to hurt anyone if you happen to be a bit uncoordinated,” Pip suggests. Phew!
Saved by the bell
If your humble local gym doesn’t cater to budding Hilary Swanks, you can perfect your swing from the comfort of your home. “Boxing at home is doable, but be prepared to kit out a space properly,” Cathy warns. “You will need a four or five foot boxing bag that hangs from the ceiling or the wall (make sure your wall is sturdy though beforehand, as the bags are heavy), boxing gloves and wraps to protect your hands.”
And one vital addition – a partner. “Boxing is great to do at home, plus it’s a fun couple workout,” Pip says. “If you didn’t want a bag, you can cut costs and save space by investing in a skipping rope and a set of gloves and pads. The fantastic thing about boxing is that you can actually get a really great workout in just 15 minutes in the morning, so you can have longer in bed!” Amen to that.
Skip for ten minutes
Make sure you stay in your stance at all times and move on your toes: if you’re right-handed, it’s left foot forward; if you’re left-handed, it’s right foot forward, keeping your balance through the middle and not leaning on the front foot. Make sure you turn your hips through on the cross and the hook and push your hips up and through on the upper cuts. Bring your hands back (guard up) to your cheek bones after every shot.
Complete six rounds of three minutes with one minute rest in between
- Double jab, right cross, roll out (roll your shoulder to take the “punch”), come back with a right cross then left hook.
- Jab, right cross, left hook, roll out, then come back with a left hook then right uppercut.
- Jab, slip to the right (lean to the side as if dodging a punch), slip to the left, left uppercut, right cross, left uppercut, right cross.
- Stretch arms with a cross-over move, obliques with a side bend and chest by stretching arms behind your back