The original article is from AskMen. The original author is Cara Sprunk.
With January comes resolutions to get stronger and fitter in the new year, but it’s always a challenge to stick to these goals. You come up with excuses, lose interest, or what you tried sticking to just isn’t giving you the results you want, so you quit. It’s time to figure out a new plan, a new workout that you actually consistent with.
Enter boxing. It’s the workout loved by many, from the strongest men to Victoria’s Secret models. (Disclaimer: We aren’t promising any Angels in the ring with you. Sorry). But why? Why is this workout so popular in a world where you have seemingly endless choices (looking at you, Sandbox Fitness). Surely, punching a bag has got to release some stress, but why else are boxing gyms popping up across the country and appealing to the everyman?
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Benefits Beyond the Physical
“Boxing is such a unique workout in that you’re learning a complex skill set, so your mind is focused on something other than how hard you’re working out,” Milan Costich, trainer and founder of Prevail Boxing in Los Angeles, explains to AskMen. “The sense of accomplishment you feel as your technique, strength, and endurance improve makes it easier to feel grateful for what your body is capable of, which will in turn motivate you to show your body even more love through exercise and healthy habits.”
Joseph Goodwin, founder of Overthrow Boxing in New York, compared the sport to an art form: “You keep adding and adding like a great jazz musician, while feeling great and seeing results. It becomes very easy to become addicted to something positive.”
It seems boxing may almost be more about the mental benefits than the physical ones. In a world where mindfulness and meditation are constantly tossed around, it can be hard to get those benefits from workouts where your mind wanders to your to-do list or stressors from the day.
“Because you’re learning a new skill set, the workout requires that you’re fully present the whole time while you focus on practicing your combos,” says Costich, who is a strong believer in the mental and emotional benefits of the sport he has been training in for the past 30 years. “Boxing lets you take a little mental vacation from anything else happening in your life and spend a little self-care time punching out your stress. For a workout that’s so intense, boxing is surprisingly meditative in that way, which has a huge positive impact on your mental well-being.”
Psychotherapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling agrees that physical activity, boxing in particular, can have benefits beyond the physical.
“Any physical activity which forces you to be in the present moment is akin to meditation. Boxing especially demands your focus and helps you to release the tensions of a sedentary life,” explains Smerling. “It is fun, inventive, and playful. It allows us to be children and do something we were taught not to do — hit and punch.”
That’s all great, but ultimately, people hit the gym primarily to get physically stronger and healthier. And though boxing’s got a rep for being a solely upper-body activity, both Costich and Goodwin say this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“All of your punches come from your legs and core, not your arms,” Goodwin explains. For example, when you punch, you pivot your foot, transferring power up from your legs to your glutes and into your hips. “Throwing a correct jab (one of the six standard punches) uses every muscle in the body. A great boxer has balance breathing from his core while engaging every part of his body.”
Costich says the core strength in the sport is of paramount importance, so much so that one day a week, his gym offers a full day of classes centered around core strength. “Many of the exercises we take clients through are complex movements that require the core to remain engaged the whole time,” he says. “From body-weight exercises (such as plank jacks) or something with added resistance (like sit-ups with an added 5- to 10-pound weight), we encourage our community to practice regulating their breathing while engaging their core so they can do the same while they’re boxing.”
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For those who love high-intensity interval training workouts but find them to be monotonous, boxing may become your new obsession. “A boxing match is very similar to a HIIT workout – you’re alternating between sprints of throwing combos or reacting defensively, and active recovery, which utilizes your footwork as you catch your breath,” said Costich. “The combination of speed, strength, and mobility requires low body fat and long, lean functional muscle.”
Just Do It
Intrigued but still intimidated? Finding a gym that works for you and getting the courage to sign up to try something completely new might be the biggest hurdle. One tip: Keep an eye out for gyms that actively welcome and teach newbies.
Patience will be another challenge, as Costich tells those eager to try boxing to expect to have to take two to three sessions to feel comfortable, and get to 10 before they can expect things to really start to click. He adds that you can also practice technique at home, shadow boxing with or without small weights to work your skills even when you’re not in class.
And remember this from Goodwin when pushing through your first, fifth, or 50th workout: "Boxing is really a metaphor for life. What are you fighting for?"
The original article is from AskMen.
The original author is Cara Sprunk.