Q&A: “I want to start boxing for cardio and fitness purposes. Where do I begin?”
People have been boxing for thousands of years. Whether the purpose was settling an argument or purely for sport, boxing is one of the oldest forms of athletics known to man. Nowadays, with the booming popularity of mixed martial arts, boxing culture has taken a hit. Rather than exclusively preparing for a fight, training for the sport has transformed into a means more focused on staying in shape, keeping cardio workouts interesting, developing self defense skills, and boosting self esteem for many. For anyone interested in beginning a boxing journey for fitness, here are a few things to consider before you find a ring to start sparring in.
Using boxing as a form of fitness doesn’t change anything about the combative nature of the sport. Getting the most out of boxing from a fitness perspective will require a commitment to building the craft like a fighter would. That said, the first step to getting started is learning the footwork. Good fighters are built from the ground up, and it begins with the stance.
The boxing stance is meant to make a fighter stable; ready to attack or defend themselves at any moment. Before you begin striking, or considering joining a gym to workout at, take some time to nail down your stance. Find a comfortable balance between your feet; with your weight distributed evenly, and your legs spread a little wider than shoulder width. Pick your hands up, and practice moving in your stance. To move forward or left, step with your left foot first and then drag the right foot after. To move backward or right, step with your right foot first and then drag the left foot after. Practice finishing each step with your feet at the same distance and keeping your movements quick and precise.
Once you are feeling comfortable in your stance, you are ready to start throwing some punches. You may not have a punching bag at your home, so shadow boxing—throwing punches at the air, simulating a real strike—is a good place to start practicing.
Next in your journey to start boxing, you must learn to throw the different types of punches. The jab, right cross, left hook, overhand right, left uppercut, right uppercut, and body are the six core punches, and can all be practiced prior to hitting the gym. Having a general understanding and feel for how you throw each punch will give you a leg up when you begin your training program. Hitting a bag or shadow boxing will help you build strength, agility, and precision. All keys to building the foundation of your boxing journey.
After you find comfort in your stance and start practicing the different punches, the next step is to put the base you’ve built into practice and search around your area for a gym that suits your needs.
3. Picking your gym
Not all boxing gyms look like a scene from Rocky, so temper your expectations. What you should be looking for is the right place for you. A gym that is reasonably close to home, so that you can be consistent in going, and finding a trainer who you feel comfortable working with are two top priorities to consider. Explaining your chosen reason for getting into boxing—whether it be strictly for fitness, blowing off steam, or learning self defense—is a good place to start with getting to know a trainer. Finding someone who can help you to set goals and start working towards them early in your journey will be key to your success.
There are countless complexities to boxing, and it takes years to master any of them. In using the sport strictly for fitness, however, commitment to consistency, willingness to learn, and a desire to work hard at improving will lead to countless benefits to your general health.
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