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Fitness in All Forms: Fight your way to fitness with boxing classes

Posted by Alex Pearlman  December 17, 2011 09:55 AM

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boxing in boston.jpgBy Kristen McManus

When my friend asked if I was interested in trying out a fighter conditioning class at Peter Welch’s Boxing Gym in Southie, I thought, “Sure! I do things of the fitness nature. I’ll be totally fine.”

“Dehydrated” and tired from the night before, I thought I was in for a fun morning spent looking all fierce and cool. Per usual, I was wrong: At a boxing gym, the only way to look fierce is to kick your own butt.

I was sore by the end of the first 10 minutes.

But whether you exercise for the endorphins, the results, the stress relief, or just the chance to eat some extra everything bagels with cream cheese, boxing may be the perfect workout for you.

The Experience

A note to the ladies before I start: My class was male-dominated, but the women there gave, per usual, an impressive showing. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to find myself in a combat situation with the pink-gloved ladies to my right or with the girl in front of me, who had a ridiculous punch. Boxing is a powerful sport that’s most definitely a good fit for anyone seeking results.

My roommate and I ambled into the gym to the smell of sweat and the sound of a man barking orders into a microphone. The guy behind the front desk said, “Oh, well, you girls are late. Just jump right in, I guess.”

I just didn’t realize he meant “jump” so literally. Many rounds of jumping jacks, mountain climbers -- exercises designed by Satan in which you get into a plank position and move your legs as if you’re “climbing a mountain” -- high knees, lunges, burpees -- another horrifying move that consists of jumping, touching the ground, and repeating until you’re near collapse -- and push-ups later, I was having trouble seeing straight.

After the jumping around ended and we took a refreshing, 30-second water break, it was back to the floor for more hellish, muscle-ripping exercises. Then, we moved onto the bags.

Here’s how that works: You and a partner share a punching bag that hangs from the ceiling. The bags line the walls, and a boxing ring is in the center of the room (that’s where the coach stands). One person holds the bag from behind, and the other punches it in repetitive combos until they almost fall over or until the boxing coach yells, “Next person!”

The coach teaches you the combos by demonstrating, then you go at it. It totally helps to imagine that smokeshow Mark Wahlberg is recruiting you from the sidelines for The Fighter II as you punch away -- or maybe that’s just me.

After you’re done with the bag and gloves, you return to the floor for more push-ups, sit-ups, and circuit training. Then, you collapse, throw your dirty gloves in a bucket, and stumble out of the gym into the cold air, feeling your muscles seize up almost immediately.

The Benefits

Despite my dramatic interpretation, I’d been in perpetual search of a fitness routine that works the entire body, from the core to the arms, thighs, and glutes, and with boxing, I definitely found that. If you’re looking for a workout designed to kick your butt, build muscle and strength, make you whimper, and teach you some self-defense in the process, boxing might be your new thing.

Some of the benefits of a boxing workout include:

  • The repetitive motion in punching and movement, supported by the body's "core" muscles, helps develop cardiovascular efficiency, local muscular endurance, and a degree of strength.
  • Training tones up and helps define the arms and legs. It also helps strengthen the core muscles, which support the limbs and movement.
  • Boxing helps relieve stress and improve mental acuity, speeding up reactions.
  • Boxing can help you release anger, work through emotions, and prevent anxiety.
  • You can burn 500-1,000 calories in one workout.
So basically, you get in sick shape. Though the prices get a bit high, you can most likely justify that after a few classes. You’ll be sore for an entire week after your first one -- but that’s a good thing.

Check back to TNGG Boston each month for a new 'Fitness in All Forms' as Kristen explores the many options for exercising in Boston.

Photo by lululemon athletica (Flickr)

About Kristen -- I'm a copywriter-in-training and a writer all around. I just ran my first marathon, and I'm now experiencing a post-race high. I am from Philadelphia but at one point lived in Atlanta, and I'm not ashamed to say I like grits. Twitter: @mcmanuskristen

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This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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