The best way to release stress after a hard day might not be to drink a cold beer. How about some serious physical exercise instead? Boxing isn’t just being introduced into gyms across the country, it’s taking a strong hold. But it’s about more than competing in the ring. It’s about learning physical and mental skills that produce a powerful punch full of benefits.
Boxing requires a high level of athletic ability. It takes strength, agility, speed, eye-hand coordination and endurance. Boxing as a fitness activity offers the average person the chance to work on these same skills while improving health and fitness.
The benefits of boxing are numerous. It increases cardiovascular capacity and increases metabolism, which leads to weight loss and increased muscle mass.
Decreased stress is another benefit. Boxing is a great outlet for stress. Participating in a workout that includes high intensity periods where you push yourself followed by a rest period to recover has a way of refocusing your mind and releasing powerful endorphins. It’s also empowering to take some of your stress out on a punching bag.
Punching, kicking and jumping require a surprising amount of strength. “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done,” says Miquel Navarro Jr., a USA Boxing certified boxing coach who’s also an instructor at Crossroads Fitness in Grand Junction. “It never gets easier. You just get stronger.”
Eye-hand coordination plays an important role while learning to box. It taps into your fine motor skills and leads to faster reflexes and reaction times. Consider a suspended boxing bag that’s bouncing and turning with each punch. Your core becomes stronger and your balance improves.
Navarro has created a group exercise class called “Fit to Fight.” This fitness and conditioning class is modeled — in a lighter version — after the training an amateur or professional boxer would endure to get ready for a fight or stay in peak physical shape. This class works the whole body with plyometric and explosive movements, focusing on the core for the main power. This class uses intervals with rest periods in between. Navarro teaches this class in a structured, disciplined and high-energy environment.
“I love teaching this class,” Navarro says. “Watching students and members grow not only in basic boxing instruction, but also in their work towards their personal fitness goals is awesome and inspiring. Everyone has their own reason to show up. My job is to help lead them to their goal, whatever it may be. Everyone has strength. It’s my job to help them tap into that.”
Another alternative to boxing is kickboxing. This class combines martial arts techniques with a cardio focus. This high-energy workout not only burns calories and fat, but also tones the body. By engaging all your muscle groups — shoulders, arms, core, abs, thighs and butt — you get a full-body strength workout. Watching a room full of people punching and kicking in unison makes the group atmosphere of this class powerful. Although everyone is working at their own levels, the common feel of pride and confidence is apparent.
Whether you want to become an accomplished boxer or just want to learn the techniques for better physical health, boxing or kickboxing might be right for you. Begin to see the results today with a jab or upper cut followed by a side kick. Here’s to your continued good health.