Regular workouts keep me in decent shape. But I’m always looking for ways to get faster, stronger, and more flexible. There are a myriad of options out there, which can be overwhelming for beginners and seasoned athletes alike. I’ll play the role of guinea pig and review some of the new and unusual exercise classes being offered around the region, with the hope you’ll find one that appeals to you and gets you moving. If you would like to suggest a workout for me to try, tweet me @apoztv.
When you step through the door of Striking Beauties, it's immediately clear that this is not your typical gym. A variety of heavy bags hang from the ceiling, jump ropes are scattered throughout, posters of fighters, including Muhammad Ali, plaster the walls, and a full-fledged boxing ring is tucked into the back corner of the facility.
Established in 2009, Striking Beauties lays claim to being the only women's boxing gym in New England. After taking a “Traditional Boxing” class, I can honestly say the phrase “fight like a girl” is truly a compliment.
It seems as though female-only gyms have become more common in recent years. One reason may lie in the camaraderie among women. At Striking Beauties, this was apparent from the get go. Everyone was extremely friendly and supportive of each other...sharing not only words of encouragement throughout class but tips on topics that extend beyond boxing to things like motherhood. Speaking of which, the facility includes a "play" area for children complete with supervision by a staff member, making this an even more appealing exercise option for moms.
Aside from the facility itself, there is an authenticity about Striking Beauties that sets it apart from a typical "cardio-boxing" class offered at many big box gyms. Many of the instructors are actually amateur boxers who design workouts that closely mirror what they do to stay in fighting shape.
I always assumed boxing was primarily an upper-body workout. And while my arms did "feel the burn" minutes into the first set of punches, my core and legs both played a crucial part in landing the perfect swing. After a five-minute jump-rope warm-up, we readied our fists and hit the bags, rotating through a variety of 3-minute long punch sequences. Interspersed between each interval were sets of sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees. The instructor was very hands-on, constantly monitoring everyone's form and making adjustments when necessary.
Boxing is known to build strength, speed, and stamina. But the benefits seem to go beyond that. I got the sense from the women taking the class that they have progressed to a point where they now feel more self-confident and empowered.
The workout is physically grueling. But it's also a big stress-buster. The relaxation I felt after class is comparable to yoga. Namaste. Now put up your dukes.