Want a fun and varied workout? Boxing fitness is a great way to burn fat and boost your fitness and is also a great stress-buster says Christina Neal. Photos: Dave Collison
Boxing fitness is challenging and that’s why it can offer some great results. Boxing fitness or boxercise classes involves hitting pads, working up a sweat and improving your stamina and overall fitness.
‘Boxing training can be an effective tool for weight loss due to the high intensity it is performed at,’ says personal trainer and former boxer Ian Gardner from Leisure World in Colchester (https://colchesterleisureworld.co.uk). ‘You’re using all of the muscles of the body when you perform the punches. The heart rate is significantly increased and therefore it can burn more calories per hour compared to other methods of fitness training. In a recent study, it was shown to be the sport that burnt the most calories per hour.’
How many calories you burn depends on your age, weight, fitness level and how hard you work, but as a rough guide, a 70kg person could burn up to 800 calories per hour – that’s 200 more than a Spin class.
Perhaps not surprisingly when you consider how many calories it burns, there’s been an increase in the number of women taking up boxing fitness. ‘The rise in popularity in Boxercise classes has been noticeable among my own personal training clients,’ says Ian. ‘More women now approach me about learning to box and incorporating it into their own training through the use of pad work.’
Why try boxing fitness?
- • You’ll get fitter fast – You’ll work both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems (anaerobic means working in short bursts with energy breaking down without oxygen – aerobic means working for longer periods in the presence of oxygen). ‘This is great as it will allow us to perform daily tasks with more ease, meaning you have more energy throughout the day,’ says Ian.
- • You’ll tone up – It’s a great way to shape and tone your muscles, as you’ll work your upper and lower body, especially your upper back, shoulders and arms.
- • You’ll combat stress – ‘A lot of people enjoy boxing training is that it can be a fantastic way of relieving stress both through the release of endorphins and letting out frustration in a controlled manner,’ says Ian.
- • You’ll be more agile – Boxing involves some footwork and you’ll learn how to move around and improve your agility.
- • You’ll feel more confident – Being able to punch and feeling fitter is great for confidence. Hitting the pads is empowering and learning a new skill is rewarding.
- • You’ll lose weight – it’s such an effective calorie burner and will elevate your metabolism afterwards, which means your overall calorie expenditure will increase after your session too, making weight loss easier.
- • It’s varied and fun – boxing fitness isn’t like many other forms of exercise that burn calories – it’s not repetitive and continuous – it offers variety – you’ll be doing different types of punches, jabs, uppercuts and hooks – you’ll be so focused on technique you won’t be looking at the clock.
If you want to use boxing fitness for weight loss, build it up gradually. ‘I recommend you do some form of exercise at least three times a week for weight loss,’ says Ian. ‘Boxing for weight loss should only be done once or twice a week (to give the body time to recover) within a training regime that uses a variety of other methods such as CV and resistance training.’
So how soon before you improve? ‘The more regularly we practice a new skill the quicker we will improve,’ says Ian. ‘With one to two sessions a week it will take an average of six weeks to be confident, but there’s always room for improvement in technique, so it is an ongoing experience.’
Patience is key. You will improve if you keep doing it. When I’ve completed a boxing session, I feel tired yet energised. I feel like I’ve had an incredible workout. My heart rate goes up significantly during the session. Even though we only train for 30 minutes, that time is effective, as I can really feel myself working hard. We perform a series of rounds – at first, we started with three-minute rounds with a minute’s break in between each round. Now, as my fitness has improved, I can comfortably box for up to five minutes at a time. After only four sessions, I feel fitter and more energised. I feel less tired after a session and more comfortable during each session. My arms, shoulders and upper back feel more toned, and I’m comfortable that the pounds will soon start to fall off. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to burn fat, get fit and enjoy a varied workout.
One to one boxing sessions are fun, varied and challenging. Punching the pads feels empowering. If you’re a boxing newbie, you may think it’s about punching as hard as you can, but technique is far more important than force. ‘Two common injuries in boxing are tears of the rotator cuff (shoulder) and sprains of the wrist – both of which are caused by incorrect punching technique,’ says Ian. ‘If you are looking to incorporate boxing into your training schedule, but have no prior experience, then I would definitely recommend seeking help from somebody with professional knowledge and experience. A one to one session with a personal trainer who has previous boxing experience would be ideal to ensure that everything you do in a controlled and safe manner. If this is not viable for you, then a boxing club would be your next best alternative.’
Many gyms now offer Boxercise classes but be aware that you will get less attention from the instructor, as they will be watching the entire class. If it’s affordable for you, it’s worth having several private one to one boxing sessions so that you can learn technique first before participating in a class.
You can follow personal trainer Ian Gardner on Instagram at @iangpt1510
You can follow Christina Neal on Instagram at @christina.neal.fitness