If you’ve read about all of the fitness benefits of boxing, but feel too intimidated to give it a try, don’t. People of all ages and fitness levels take boxing classes. Typically, there is a mix of men and women who are all there to get an effective workout — and maybe relieve a little stress. In most studios, boxing classes focus on fitness, not fighting. You’ll find the environment supportive and welcoming to newcomers. The best way to overcome any hesitation about starting boxing is to know what you’re in for:
How to prepare
Thirty minutes to an hour before class, fuel up with a light meal or snack of carbs, like beans or sweet potatoes and fruit or juice. Try to drink at least 22 ounces of water in the two hours before class starts.
Boxing is a full-body, high-intensity workout, so you’ll want to reserve a class on a day you are fully rested. You do not want to take boxing the day after a brutal HIIT session.
Most boxing instructors will expect you to wear hand wraps in class to protect your wrists and knuckles. Trust us, you want to protect yourself as you pound the bag. Many gyms sell wraps that will cost you between $5 and $10 but call ahead to confirm the studio has wraps for you to purchase. You’ll also need boxing gloves. Most studios have gloves you can use for class, but if you become a regular, you might want to purchase your own pair.
What to wear
When deciding what to wear to a boxing class, the most important consideration is choosing clothes that will stay in place. For most of the class, you will wear boxing gloves, making it nearly impossible to tug and pull poor-fitting workout wear. The ideal attire is something you’ve worn several times before and know will hold up no matter how much you move around and sweat.
Cool, breathable, absorbent fabrics are best because you’ll sweat — a lot. In addition to throwing punches, you’ll be jumping rope, squatting and doing burpees, so you’ll want pants that don’t slide down. It’s also a good idea to bring a workout headband to keep your hair in place during class.
There are a few options in terms of footwear. You could purchase boxing shoes that have a smooth bottom, low heel and ankle support, all of which are ideal for the kind of work you’ll be doing in this class. However, it might be best to wait to make sure this workout is for you before making an investment in gear, since boxing shoes can cost anywhere from $80 to $250.
Cross trainers are a good alternative because they have similar features to boxing shoes. Running sneakers are less than ideal because they have a thick sole that can make pivoting and turning difficult. They also don’t provide much in the way of lateral support.
What to bring
Working up a serious sweat is a given at a boxing class, so keep that in mind when you are packing your gym bag. Bring a large water bottle to stay hydrated during class and pack a towel.
Try to avoid wearing makeup to class. If you are going straight from work, pack makeup remover wipes and go in with a clean face. With boxing wraps and gloves on, you won’t be able to wipe your eyes if mascara or shadow drips in them.
When you arrive
For your first class, you will want to arrive at least 15 minutes before start time. If the receptionist or instructor doesn’t ask, tell him or her that it is your first time. The instructor can help you wrap your hands and show you around the studio. Do not underestimate the time it will take you to learn to wrap your hands properly! Letting the instructor know you are new to the activity allows him or her to keep an eye on your throughout the class and potentially provide additional support.
Tell the instructor if you have any injuries or physical limitations so that he or she can help you with modifications and alert you when he or she is about to instruct the class in an exercise that may be painful for you.
Many boxing studios have anywhere from five to 50 heavy bags hanging, which can look intimidating. Try to choose a spot near the center of the workout area. The instructors typically move around during class but demonstrate the exercises and combinations in the middle of the room, rather than up at the front.
Before class gets underway, you will want to do a few dynamic stretches. Boxing is a full-body workout, so be sure to stretch your legs, arms and back.
What to expect
Boxing gyms vary from slick and upscale to gritty and rough around the edges. Any type of studio will provide a great workout and the vibe of the studio should match your personal taste.
Most boxing classes are 60 minutes structured in three “rounds” that include an intense cardio warm-up, boxing with intervals of body weight exercises, and core. All three rounds are challenging; a boxing weight class can burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories per hour. The boxing round is typically done with a heavy bag or by shadow boxing, and you won’t actually spar with anyone.
What to do next
Take a few minutes after class to really stretch out and cool down. Rehydrate by drinking another 22 ounces of water slowly. Eat some proteins, such as a protein shake, nuts, grilled chicken or quinoa, to help your body recover.
If you fall in love with boxing, wait at least a day or two before taking another class. Beginners should only take two to three classes per week. You should also space out any high-intensity workout and opt for a low-impact or restorative class the day after boxing.