Updated: Jun 24
In the old days, the health benefits offered by boxing were only available to those who were willing to take some really hard hits.
But not anymore. A growing number of gyms are offering classes in fitness boxing, which provides training for those who want the exercise benefits of boxing, but will never step into a ring. There are numerous health benefits to a fitness boxing class that many are not be aware of.
1. Improves Body Composition
Picture the physique of the average professional boxer. There is hardly another sport that produces such a sculpted look. Because fitness boxing is a form of high-intensity interval training or HIIT, it releases a hormone called glucagon, which signals the body to break down stored fat into fatty acids for the cells to use as fuel. Glucagon can also be released after long periods of lower-intensity cardio, but a greater hormone response is obtained by short bouts of intense exercise. The physical and mental challenges that fitness boxing present, make it one of the most enjoyable forms of HIIT.
2. Improves Coordination
Fitness boxing is unique from most other activities going on at the gym because it requires a high level of concentration. In order to throw hard, fast punches, you must focus on balance and alertness while maintaining proper form. The boxer is constantly improving hand-eye coordination as he learns how to throw harder and well timed punches. Exercise is more enjoyable when it has benefits that spill over into the rest of life. Being more coordinated comes in handy in just about every aspect of daily life.
3. Boosts Energy Levels
Rather than leaving you drained and dragging all day, many participants find that fitness boxing gets them excited and motivated to tackle whatever tasks lie ahead. This may result from the mental alertness necessary to do the workouts correctly, or the adrenalin rush that comes from punching boxing pads. Whatever the reason, it's great when you can find an exercise that pumps you up and leaves you on a natural high after class.
4. Teaches Discipline
During a fitness boxing workout, you have to discipline yourself to learn new moves and execute them correctly. There is no room for slacking off or performing poorly. The discipline learned in class can become a habit that can spill over into other aspects of life. Plus, exercising is more enjoyable when you are being challenged to learn new things and can see rapid improvement through your focused efforts.
5. Total Body Workout
Many think of boxing as a predominantly upper-body workout. But that's not true. Boxing training is a functional workout working your legs with boxing footwork, your core muscles are activated by implementing the correct biomechanics when throwing a punch. Our pectoral muscles in the chest also get a great workout.
6. Increases Bone Density
Whenever we engage our muscles in strength training, our body responds by increasing the density of our bones. As we age, our bone density will dramatically decrease unless we're regularly challenging our muscles. With the intense bursts of energy required during boxing, the stress on the muscles is more than adequate to signal the body to increase our bone density.
7. Teaches Self-Defence
When you are training with a qualified certified boxing coach you are training your brain and developing muscle memory on how to throw punches correctly. Instead of wildly struggling or throwing punches into the air, the classes will cause effective reactions to become second nature if the need were to ever arise.
Participating in fitness boxing does not make someone aggressive as some may think, but can actually make people more relaxed because they feel in control of all kinds of situations.
8. Low Impact Workout
Most exercises that get your heart rate up as high as boxing. But a boxing routine requires controlled movements from tightly flexed muscles, which protects joints from being jostled. Boxing footwork incorporate low impact exercises eg the speed ladder for agility.
9. Cardio and Muscle Building at Once
For many workouts, we have to choose between cardio or weight training. But one glorious outcome of fitness boxing is the combination of achieving both an incredible aerobic workout and intense resistance training at once. While powerfully engaging major muscle groups, the heart and lungs have to pump blood at an astonishing rate. This stress increases a person's VO2 max, or maximum aerobic capacity. The muscle gained while boxing improves posture because strong muscle groups are important as we age. Bad posture can result from poor muscle tone and inadequately stretched muscles.
10. Improves Mood
Many people report there is just something about practicing fitness boxing that lifts the spirits. It may be the release of tension that comes from hitting something really hard or else the feeling of invincibility and self confidence that comes from learning to defend one's self. But whatever the cause, many people who try fitness boxing, just keep coming back because of how good it leaves them feeling.
There is even medical evidence in support of the idea that intense exercise benefits our minds. It's probably hard to believe that a single exercise routine could improve balance, help your posture, strengthen your whole body, boosts endurance, increase alertness, enhance mood, and make you more resilient for tackling life's challenges.
However, fitness boxing offers all those benefits and more, all the while enjoying yourself and growing in confidence. There are few other workouts that make such tremendous claims.
Garry Wasson is head boxing trainer at Blue Cattle Dog Boxing