I Tried Boxing and Fell in Love

After weird fitness classes came out of the woodwork (Exhibit A: goat yoga) an old-school trend is coming back: boxing. The sport takes Muhammad Ali’s “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” to heart by incorporating fast-paced footwork and cardio with intense combos to work all of your arm and shoulder muscles. The workout hits the strength-training and cardio component, making it a perfect fit for those looking to get into toned shape. Celebrities like Gisele Bundchen, Gigi Hadid, and Shay Mitchell are lacing up their boxing gloves and posting to Instagram and Youtube, inspiring women from around the world to step into the ring—including myself.

My knowledge of boxing didn’t go much further beyond  a few kickboxing DVDs I owned and whatever jargon I picked up  from watching Rocky. That said, I was pretty excited about the sport. As a woman, boxing seems like the perfect method of self defense, yet  I don’t feel up to the task.

Luckily for me, there is a TITLE Boxing Club not too far from my house where first classes are offered for free. TITLE Boxing Club provides kickboxing and boxing classes from early in the morning to late at night, seven days a week, making it an excellent fit for my unpredictable schedule.

I recruited a friend and we headed over to the Saturday 12:30 boxing class with our instructor, Alex. We were asked to arrive 10 minutes early and suggested bringing a water bottle and a towel. While the class was free, you were required to buy hand wraps, if you didn’t already have them. As I was a newbie, I did not have a spare pair sitting around my house and purchased light purple ones for $5. The employees—who were also instructors—wrapped our hands since we had no idea what we were doing and gave us a pair of boxing gloves to borrow.

Before the class began, the instructor gave a quick tutorial of the correct stance, movements and punches. For the purposes of the class, punches were given numbers that would be called out in combinations. For example, 1, 2, 2, 5 was the equivalent of jab, cross, cross, uppercut.

Each individual chose their own bag (which I found out later weighed 100 pounds) from the 30+ that were hanging from the ceiling and the class started off quickly with cardio. We’d chosen the 60 minute class, meaning that it was 15 minutes of cardio, eight 3-minute rounds (basically sectioned off time, displayed on the screen), and 15 minutes of core. And when they say cardio, they mean cardio. I thought I was in decent shape going into the class, but the 15 minutes of cardio—including burpees, jumping jacks and practice jabs— soon had me sweating bullets.

After that, we strapped on the gloves and started with combos (a grouping of punches, i.e. cross, cross, left uppercut, right uppercut and then start again). Thankfully, the instructor demonstrated beforehand several times, calling out the numbers and the name of the punch. The rounds move quickly, but my arms were burning. It took about two rounds for me to get into the rhythm and the right full body movements. When the instructor made his rounds and said I had “good form,” I nodded like I knew what I was doing.

Halfway through the class, we were told to partner up and share a bag. To incorporate a competitive spirit, we had to do a combo as quickly as we could, then switch to hold the bag for your partner. The quicker you completed yours, the sooner your partner had to go with less of a break. Of course this meant that you too had less of a break to catch your breath.

The last round was core work, a selection of difficult, but familiar core exercises. Gloves came off for this last round, but wraps stayed on. Some involved a medicine ball and some involved serious coordination skills. Some familiar exercises were called out, like planks and push-ups with shoulder taps along with a handful of  exercises I’d never done before, like holding a sit-up half-way for an extended amount of time. The core and cardio felt like the longest portion of the class, but allowed for a cool down and for us to realize just how much we sweated (and smelled). The last few minutes were left for individual stretches and wiping down equipment. As a boxing newbie, I knew that my arms would be killing me the next day so I took extra time to do cross-body arm stretches and windmills.

Immediately after the class (and a strawberry smoothie) I could feel some soreness and stiffness. My arms, undoubtedly my weakest muscles, felt sore for a few days after.

10/10 would recommend. Not only was the class an amazing full body workout, but it was also engaging and a great stress reliever. I got to work muscles I usually neglect and hit a bag repeatedly. A week later, I ended up signing up for the monthly membership, which includes one-on-one sessions to work on your technique and free gloves. I’ll definitely be incorporating boxing into my regular workout schedule. Some lessons to take away from my first class include bringing a water bottle and using it frequently throughout the class to stay hydrated. Eat a decent breakfast, such as granola or fruit, the class requires constant energy and movement. Make sure to arrive early to prep, it takes a little time to wrap your hands and to get in some stretches before jumping into an intense workout.

Kelly Morrison Menk

Kelly Morrison Menk

When not writing, Kelly works as a communications associate at a nonprofit in Washington, DC. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Mary Washington and Master's in Communication from George Mason University. She firmly believes that running daily allows her to continue her serious Coca-Cola addiction without repercussions (no, Pepsi is not the same). When she's not working or fighting horrible DC traffic, you can find her sleeping, eating or attempting to train her two pups.
Kelly Morrison Menk
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