Muhammad Ali once said that he “hated every minute of training”, and after my first one-on-one boxing class, I totally understand what he was getting at.
Female boxing has become very popular in recent years as beautiful women like the Kardashian’s and Victoria Secret models post photos of themselves to Instagram raising boxing gloves covering freshly manicured nails to their contoured faces. Possibly the only model to showcase the brutal reality of an intense boxing class is Adriana Lima, who posts daily selfies of herself drenched in sweat.
The thing that all these women seem to have in common is an enviable physique, and so it’s no wonder that many are following suit and attempting the sport – myself included.
Although for me, I don’t think it’s the physique envy that did it for me to tell you the truth, as I am currently enjoying relaxing into my own body shape. I think I just like that idea that I could unexpectedly have the capacity to fend off an attacker, should they attempt to run off with my purse. Can you imagine? Little old me waddling through Victoria Park and delivering a superb left hook to a trouble-maker? It’s the stuff new-age feminist films are made of, right?
Anyway, I visited Miguel’s Boxing Gym in Brixton, South London, regardless to get a solo boxing training session for £30 with a certified specialist and feed my naivety and imagination. My reasoning for choosing the one-on-one style class was because I still feel a little embarrassed about working out in front of a big group of people.
The certified specialist appointed to me was a 6ft-something, roughly 250 pounds, man named Mike complete with a gold front tooth who was a total gentle giant, by the way. However, being a 5 foot 7, roughly 130 pounds woman with no gold teeth, I was a little intimidated to learn that he’d be leading me around my circuit.
Much to my alarm, the session was no waddle in Victoria Park, and it involved a lot of jumping on tyres, punching bags, running, burpees, weight-lifting, crunches, push-ups and more, leaving my unfit body floppy and queasy. And when I say queasy, I mean I had to leave the session mid-way through to vomit into one of their toilets – but don’t tell them that.
Although I was totally unequipped for the intensity of the hour long class (you know, since I generally do fuck all when it comes to regular exercise), I weirdly enjoyed learning the techniques of the punches and footwork during the drills with Mike. I felt like I’d honestly achieved something when he responded to my left hook with a simple “good” rather than an eye roll and a flash of his golden tooth.
I would love to go back to another boxing class, but I must admit that this experience left me shook, as I just wasn’t fit enough to do it. I mean, at one point Mike literally had to lift me off the floor to complete a set of ab crunches. I mean, he literally fed me water, that’s how pathetic I was.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to up my running and self-confidence to try to get back in the ring. So I spoke to Irish professional boxer Christina McMahon for some advice on boxing training and for a little motivation on whether I should give the sport another shot.
She says: “Boxing training is tough, surely, but a good coach will take you slightly out of your comfort zone, but not kill you, and help you to develop the techniques so you can enjoy your sessions. Not everyone wants to fight or compete – most don’t. It’s a great way of getting fit.
“Boxing is Empowering and uses every muscle in the body. You never stop learning new ways to do a move so never boring. It’s also great for both body and mind as you have to think a lot while doing. If you are looking for fitness and inner strength join a boxing class near you.”
She said: “It’s tough for sure, a really challenge of endurance, focus, strength. But that’s what boxing is. It’s a sport that requires all of your attention and all of your will, so I think it does need to be that tough, and in return you get so much out of it.”
As much as I appreciate the advice, I am a pile of mush, and much piles just weren’t cut out to fight, much to the disappointment of my inner voice. I think the route for me then – a lowly mere mortal – is probably boxercise, which is an exercise class based on the training concepts boxers use to keep fit, rather than full-blown professional boxing training (lols).
The brutality of my boxing class made me think back to Eve’s post ‘How much exercise is enough?’, where Dr Stephen Mears, a sports scientist from Loughborough University, explains: “We base a lot of our information on work by the American college of Sports Medicine. They recommend, for moderate exercise, sticking to about 150 minutes per week. Moderate exercise is defined as anything that rises your heart-rate and can be anything from a brisk walk to a leisurely bike ride.” So the reality is that I don’t have to kill myself during a boxing training session each week in order to stay fit anyway. Eureka!
My flatmate has promised we’ll go to a boxercise class together soon, so I’ll keep you updated on how I get on and whether I vomit in any more toilets.