Dispense with the image of a stinky ring in the middle of a sparse, gloomy gym: In a boxing class, you stand in front of your own bag in a crowded room and whale on it in time to a pulsing beat. “Everything we teach is choreographed to that beat,” says Dan Humphries, master coach at Rumble Boxing in Calgary. “There’s something very satisfying about hearing 36 people land a punch in unison.”
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This is a serious workout for your upper body: The chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps and back are all involved in keeping your hands up and propelling the arm forward and generating the power of the punch. But the rest of you isn’t exactly spared, Humphries says. The legs generate power, which is channelled into the core and out through the arms. “The core is used to drive all that momentum, and the legs never stop moving — uppercuts and hooks really force your quads and glutes into play.”
While research into the health benefits of boxing classes has been limited, a small 2015 Australian study found that four months of the exercise improved heart rate, blood pressure and body fat levels. Harder to quantify, but easy to appreciate? The cathartic benefits of whacking something with all of your might. “It’s acceptable to be aggressive here; it’s just you and the bag, which you can hit as hard as you want,” Humphries says. That’s not going to magically empty your inbox or unsnarl a traffic jam, but it could help you care — and swear — a little less.
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As silly as it sounds to say out loud, piloxing — a fusion class of boxing and Pilates — is a serious workout for your abs, adding to the bag a round of Pilates exercises that target core muscles. If that’s not the fusion for you, boxing CrossFit, boxing ballet and boxing yoga classes have all gained currency in the past few years.
Watch: Pre-workout stretches | Back to Class