Learn • Inspire • Repeat
Over and over and over….
At a glance, a Boxing Fitness Class may look like everyone’s doing the same thing at the same level. They may all be delivering 1‐2 combinations on the heavy bag, over and over and over. Look closely, though, and you’ll see a broad range of skill, finesse and power. Everyone is strengthening back, core, arm and leg muscles. Everyone is getting a cardio workout. But some boxers are focusing on remembering which punch is the 1 and which is the 2. They’re working on coordinating hands and feet in a whole new way. Others have the combo down and can start loosening up a bit. The motions become more fluid and the punches feel more connected to the legs. More advanced boxers are adding a weight‐shift, or footwork, or mixing up the timing a bit.
There’s always another layer to find. The coach knows the experience level each boxer and will give suggestions and tips to keep the learning going. Some boxers will be able to keep their cover tight throughout the entire 3 minute round, while some need to give themselves intervals of focusing on tight cover and intervals of rest. Beginners work on keeping their feet in their stance (without crossing their feet, getting them too close together or too far apart.) As that gets easier, boxers learn to vary their range from inside (close to the bag) to outside (far away). Another layer is lateral movement. Another is combining footwork and punches.
Make your workout partner better
We all start at the same place. “Which one is my Jab, again?” But we also have more experienced boxers to observe as we learn. Modeling is a huge part of group training. As boxers gain skill and strength, they serve as inspiration to new boxers. If you stick with it, your punches will make that same awesome “THWACK” sound that your partner’s make when they land on the bag. How do they do that? What are they doing that I’m not doing? This concept works in both directions: the fact that you’re inspiring others in the class is proof that you’re improving. It’s a great reminder of how far you’ve come from your “Which one is my Jab?” days.
Plateau? Dig for that next layer!
Feeling stuck? Unmotivated? Bored? Blah? You’re ready for a new challenge! This doesn’t necessarily mean learning more complex combinations (although that’s one fun way to up the challenge level!) Sometimes the layer to focus on is endurance. Can you deliver hard punches for an entire three‐minute round without stopping to rest? Hit the speed bag continuously for the whole round? Keep the intensity of your first few rounds going until the final round?
Another challenge is to deepen your focus within each drill. This brings a different kind of intensity to your workout. Focus on pushing through the foot each time you punch or initiate a weight‐shift or move. Add visualization: see every punch knocking one brick out of a wall (keep the visual strong for the whole round!) This one is super difficult. We all have so many distractions: work, relationships, aches & pains, to‐do lists…. The first step in a focus challenge is to give yourself intervals of even noticing when your attention wanders from the drill. Can you focus for 30 seconds at a time? 15? Start with what you’ve got and go from there!
Learn about yourself
Deeper still is the layer of boxing training that can uncover valuable information about how you handle the big stuff: fear, anger, and hurt. Sparring tends to bring these emotions to the forefront more immediately, but punching the heavy bag can get you there as well. Of course we get great stress relief from punching. That’s very satisfying and useful, for sure. There’s more in there, though, if you want to explore it. When the @#&*!! hits the fan, is your tendency to fight, flee or freeze? How much endurance do you have? I’m not talking about physical endurance here, but emotional. For instance, most of us have a strong “I’m done” reaction that we reach the exhaustion point. But some of these “I’m done” moments aren’t really physical. We’re tired, yes, but we’re actually more frustrated, angry or scared. Of course it’s important to listen to your body: it does a good job keeping you safe. But if you’re looking to get past some obstacles and delve into the next layer of self‐awareness, ask your coach for guidance.
Keep on punching through the layers!