Boxing is not a sport for the weak of heart. Traditionally speaking, it takes two sluggers like Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali battling it out in the ring, with dozens of punches and combinations being thrown at one another. Sooner or later, one of the opponents might be the recipient of a left hook that puts him or her down flat on the canvass.
It’s true, boxing might be one of the oldest and most violent sports known to man (the Ancient Greeks included the sport in the first-ever Olympics), but it is also a sport that demands the contestants be in tip-top shape.
These days, you can fight your way to that same tip-top health by adding fitness boxing to your daily workout routine without ever having to step into the ring and get knocked out. In fact, you’ll never have to take a punch at all.
You will, however, deliver thousands of punches to all sorts of heavy bags and speed bags, and you will have a ton of fun doing it while watching the body fat burn away. You can, of course, train like a boxer on your own, or you can join a local YMCA, or engage in exercise classes by Cardio Haus or any number of personal trainers and boutique gyms.
As opposed to traditional boxing where you spar with an opponent, fitness boxing requires you to throw a variety of punches at punching bags and/or at personal trainers who equip themselves with big boxing mitts.
These can include sweeping punches like hooks and uppercuts and smaller punches like quick jabs. You’ll also be required to perform standard boxing moves like ducking and lunging. Jump roping is also a part of the fitness boxing routine. The exercises are usually conducted to loud, fast music, not unlike aerobics or Zumba class.
According to the prestigious Harvard Medical School, the adapted version of boxing can not only improve your strength and overall balance, but it can increase your endurance by a significant measure.
Says noted physical therapist Linda Arslanian of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, boxing has many health benefits since it constantly requires you to alter your position and to develop the ability to think quickly on your feet.
But what are the other benefits of adding fitness boxing to your daily workout regimen?
According to Arslanian, during fitness boxing workouts, you’re constantly swinging your arms, and moving the shoulder muscles which increases upper body strength. Being in a boxer’s crouch with a wide stance and knees bent, you are strengthening your back, legs, and core.
These stronger muscles help with simple everyday tasks like carrying bags of groceries to your vehicle, climbing staircases, raking leaves, or even getting up out of a chair.
There’s no question that fitness boxing gets your heart rate moving fast for sustained periods. In the long run, this will result in lowering your blood pressure while decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes. You will also be strengthening your bones while burning off a ton of calories.
The aerobic benefit to fitness boxing is not limited to just the muscles and bones, however. It will not only lift your mood by releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, but it is also said to improve brain functions like eye-hand coordination. Punching a specific area of a heavy bag requires you to be more attentive and alert which is something that will help you outside the gym, especially when you are driving your vehicle or multi-tasking at work.
By constantly bobbing, weaving, and crouching you are changing your stance, which translates into a better sense of balance. This is an especially helpful benefit for office workers who are required to sit at a computer terminal for hours on end.
Again, according to Arslanian, the better you are at keeping your balance, especially as you age, the better you’ll be at preventing yourself from tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, for instance. Fitness boxing improves both your strength and your reaction time.
Is Fitness Boxing for You?
Boxing training is one of the best ways to get your body into peak physical condition. There’s no other fitness routine that can boost your overall strength, improve your posture and balance while increasing your endurance and alertness.
But fitness boxing might not be the best workout for everyone. If you have arthritis in the hands or even osteoporosis, it’s not recommended that you physically pound a heavy bag as you can further damage your bones. But you can shadow box and jump rope.
In any case, you should check in with your personal physician first before engaging in any strenuous activity that involves raising your heart rate dramatically. The best way to get involved with fitness boxing is to start slow and gradually increase the intensity until you are in the best fighting shape of your life.