High-intensity workout’s boxing clever
Stephen Heard discovers that the road to the ring is not for the faint of heart.
Time spent punching the bag is great for stress release and the group culture of class training makes it social and supportive.
Off the back of ‘‘The Money Fight’’, and as New Zealand’s own heavyweight champ Joseph Parker prepares to defend his title, boxing is the sport on everyone’s lips. The art of battering your opponent has an extensive history: from its significant place in Greek athletics to 16th-century bareknuckle and Sylvester Stallone punching meat in a meat locker.
While the current version is more sparkly shorts and giant cheques than fighting to the death, it remains a highly technical combat sport that requires supernatural fitness and discipline. Before even thinking about entrance music and stepping foot in the ring, there are fundamentals to cover. Former professional boxer Bruce Glozier prefers training from the ground up, suggesting the feet and legs should be considered with every punch. He referenced a connection to the art of fencing and the defensive abilities of Floyd Mayweather Jnr – who was barely dusted with a fist in his career. It doesn’t matter if you’re blessed with natural force, if you can’t work the feet in unison with the hands you won’t get anywhere in the ring.
Building endurance to last the distance is also a core focus of this particular class. Gloves on, we began with a warm-up focusing on footwork. We completed sidesteps in a circle on command. Some burpees were thrown in for good measure; I copped an extra 10 for side-stepping in the wrong direction.
In pairs, we moved to the bag for conditioning. One at a time, we completed 30 seconds of fastpaced jabs before another 30 seconds of left and right hooks. The first two rounds passed without bother; it wasn’t until the third that holding up the gloves became more of an effort. During a short rest I reached for a drink, discovering that it’s near impossible to open a bottle with gloves. No drink.
Set two involved a 1-2 combo and two left hooks on the bag. We rotated with our partner who was stuck lungeing and squatting until our set of 12 was complete. Another rest passed, this time with hydration, and we completed the same combo with the addition of three power punches. The conditioning session ended with another two 20-second rounds of relentless punching. My upper body had almost given up.
We were only halfway through the session. A fellow class member revealed that she threw up during her first class, which made me feel much better/ concerned for what was ahead.
The drill section of the class consisted of further footwork and body weight training. We completed speed ladder drills, bear crawls, weighted squats and burpees. To prepare for future body shots, we ended with the core. There were sit-ups, side crunches and a never-ending regime spelling out the alphabet with our legs. The high-intensity training that comes with boxing will leave you gasping for breath and drenched in sweat. The conditioning and body weight exercises can be beneficial for increasing cardio endurance, functional strength and flexibility. Time spent punching the bag is great for stress release and the group culture of class training makes it social and supportive. It’s a mental and physical discipline. Obviously, getting punched is a major risk with boxing. Preliminary training doesn’t generally require you to hit an opponent so the only thing to worry about is getting through the exercise regime itself. Before signing up you should consult a medical professional for a health fitness assessment – particularly if you have history with heart problems and back pain. Muscle fatigue should be expected after the first few sessions. Boxing training is available at several gyms across the country.
There’s a lot to cover before you can get to the entrance music.