When I was a kid, boxing was all about Rocky Balboa pummeling Ivan Drago and running up those famous art museum steps in Philadelphia, Mike Tyson’s meteoric rise to fame (and reports of his scandalous behavior) and Ricky Ricardo and Fred Mertz talking about the latest fights. But boxing is the hot exercise right now. People are slipping on the gloves everywhere from old-school gyms to boutique fitness centers, with models once again setting trends and leading the fitness pack.
Boxing torches a ridiculous amount of calories. Cosmopolitan cites data from the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showing that a 125-pound woman could burn up to 727 calories per hour boxing, and a still-impressive 585 calories kickboxing. The compendium also breaks down specific components of boxing, with punching bag work burning 312 calories an hour and sparring burning around 443 calories.
I am a big proponent for trying new workouts at a gym before jumping in at home, after getting the all-clear from your doctor, of course. It’s a great way to learn proper form and safety precautions from an expert, and I find it incredibly empowering to learn about a new form of exercise in a gym setting. You can also learn skills that carry over into all of your workouts.
Old-school gyms like Gotham Gym aren’t fancy but will give you a workout that you won’t forget. Perhaps this is why it has become popular among models, so much so that back in 2014 Maxim writer Susanna Gooch compared perusing Gotham owner Rob Piela’s Instagram feed to “flipping through a sweatier version of Vogue.” Piela is still in demand; his latest pics show him training models Laura Love, Mathilde Frachon and Linda Vojtova, among others. Gooch’s experience working out at Gotham Gym was intense, to say the least. After several combinations of hooks, jabs and uppercuts punctuated by squats, Gooch wrote, “I’m sweating buckets, my thighs are on fire and my biceps are pulsing with resentment. When I begin to slow down, [trainer and ex-boxer] Frankie firmly demands, ‘Again!’ like every inspirational coach during every boxing montage.” The workout also consisted of strength training with bodyweight and free weights. By the end, Gooch was sold on the sport: “If beauty is pain, this is the ultimate regimen. The results speak for themselves.”
Other centers incorporate boxing techniques into unique workouts, such as modelFIT, where models like Karlie Kloss and Candice Swanepoel work out. According to the modelFIT website, their boxing class is a combination of “modelFIT techniques and refigured boxing traditions for cardio training, balance, mobility and stability.” (Check out some of the moves from Kloss’s seriously awesome modelFIT strength training routine here.)
The New York Times recently reported on the phenomenon of boutique gyms that offer boxing strictly for fitness, not fighting. Joey Goodwin, founder of boutique boxing gym Overthrow New York, told the Times, “I want to find the middle ground between Barry’s Bootcamp and SoulCycle and CBGB,” a philosophy that’s underscored by the gym’s slick website featuring artful black and white photos of sweat-drenched boxers. The Times also featured Shadowbox NYC, a boutique gym that, according to the publication, embodies “boxing as lifestyle: nonthreatening and nonviolent,” conducting classes with “SoulCycle-style precision” and serving kale juice and pour-over coffee in the gym’s cleverly named Ringside Café.
Those of you who aren’t in New York can still get in on this craze. The Times reports that boutique boxing gyms are emerging throughout the country, with some recently opening in Miami and Los Angeles.
Getting fit on a budget? It’s still a good idea to get some gym experience. A little bit of sleuthing could help you save money. Research gyms in your area to see if any of them appeal to you, and ask about free trial classes and package discounts for new customers.
Ready for more? Check back next week for part two of our boxing fitness feature for boxing workouts you can do at home!