As darker evenings and rainy days make outdoor workouts seem less appealing, now is a good time to take up a new sport which you can do inside the gym. I have been boxing for three years now and at the age of 41, I only wish I had started this life-changing sport much sooner. The benefits are almost too numerous to list, but I have put together just a few here. Please read on to find out more.
1. Get fitter than you ever have before – and see the results
Training for boxing is unlike anything I’ve done before, and I’m a seasoned gym goer with plenty of half-marathons, 10k runs and HIIT classes under my belt. While training for my first fight, I would typically do 2-3 hours of strength and conditioning training per week, with at least four sessions of boxing training.
I quickly noticed that my arms became very toned, and I had a flat stomach within the first month. Even if you don’t want to fight, many gyms now offer boxfit classes which will get you similar results without the risks of going into the ring. Nutrition, when you are training this hard, is very important. I take a daily multivitamin for women such as Wellwoman Max as well as eating a balanced diet, and make sure I always have a healthy snack after training such as a banana or a handful of nuts.
2. Face a challenge and defeat it
The popularity of so-called white collar boxing such as Industry Boxing – where people who have never boxed before train for a charity fight – is rising. One of the reasons for this is the unique opportunity it offers to conquer your anxieties and challenge yourself.
Sparring with an opponent is a kind of problem-solving, where you each search for the right angles and the perfect moment to break through. What seems impossible can suddenly be yours for the taking. It is great for your confidence to take on something daunting and face your fears head on, and the lessons learned can be transposed to other facets of life.
3. Let go of stress
Our lives are increasingly demanding and stressful, and it can sometimes feel like we never have a chance to switch off, especially with smartphones and other technology which function 24 hours a day. Hitting a punchbag or the pads for an hour forces you to focus entirely on the moment, forgetting all those nagging emails and texts, and it is a tremendous release for day-to-day frustrations. The release of endorphins in boxing coupled with a bit of aggression means you are likely to leave the gym far calmer than when you entered it.
4. Find a community
All sport can offer a sense of belonging and camaraderie when it is practised with others. While boxers are always out there in the ring on their own, the people you train with, your coaches and sparring partners should all have your back (if you pick the right gym), and that is a fantastic feeling.
5. Make life more interesting
Life is there to be lived to the full, and that means doing exciting things you’ve never done before and pushing yourself. If you are reading this and thinking “that’s not for me”, bear in mind that the really interesting stuff happens when we leave our comfort zone.
We make decisions all the time based on the idea we have of what kind of person we are, but we can’t grow if we don’t take on new challenges. For most people, the idea of hitting someone in real life would never occur to us, and it does seem scary at first. Once you learn the technique behind boxing, you realise it is as much about the art of defence as anything else. There can be no greater feeling than realising you have mastered something you believed you would never be able to do.
If you do decide to take up a new sport this autumn, make sure you go at your own pace. It takes time to learn new skills, and building up fitness does not happen overnight either. Have rest days, and eat a varied and balanced diet alongside your training, with plenty of water to keep hydrated – even in those winter months. Good luck, and don't forget to have fun!