Boxing has always been a big part of my fitness regime since I was 12 years old. I started off training Muay Thai and since then I have trained in many different types of martial arts all over the world. But, if I'm honest, my favourite has always been boxing. There is something about it that makes me feel alive. The feeling when you set foot into the boxing gym and everything else just goes, no stress and no worries. I love the different vibes you get in each gym and learning and training with different people around the world in all aspects; shadow boxing, pad work, bag work and sparring. It’s a great way to escape and release all your frustrations. The physical shape and mental conditioning you receiving from boxing is out of this world. Power, strength, endurance and co-ordination all play a massive part in this sport.
So, if you haven't ever tried give it a go and for those of you who are already addicts here’s some tips, places and recommendations.
Forget your ego
This is a big one for all you guys. I often find it funny when I see the new guy in the gym, as you can feel the tension and stiffness. It’s not about throwing consistent hay makers, it’s about finding a rhythm and being able to hit hard with little effort and maximum speed. I often find that women are the better novice boxers as they don't have the ego and tension. Don't over think it and just hit what you see. Everyone has been a beginner and surprisingly the boxing gym is a friendly place.
Build your cardio
Your cardio-vascular state will play a big part in your boxing. If you’re just starting out, don’t worry! I would suggest getting a good few jogs in or a skipping drill session during the week on top of your boxing. It will drastically improve your performance when you have your gloves on.
Now, you may be thinking what are you on about? But, the new boxer is always thinking about hitting the bag or the pad. It’s natural. We think and it makes us tense. Don’t think, just relax, shake it out and hit. I always find numbers work well to help this. With every punch count 1, 2, 3, so on and so on. It will help you flow and avoid being tense.
Your breathing rhythm is a crucial part to any high intensity sport but especially boxing. With boxing, you are working in flurries and with each round of bag work or pad work your energy is zapped making you breathe harder. If you don’t breathe properly from the start you will be out of breath in no time. Learn to vary your intensity and power in the rounds to allow recovery. Another good tip is to exhale with every punch, at first it can be hard to remember, but with time you will do it sub-consciously. It will not only improve your power, but also the amount of rounds you can work effectively.
Use your weight.
When throwing a punch of any kind, a jab, straight, uppercut or hook it’s important to learn how shift your weight. Use your body and shift your weight when throwing a punch. Turn into the punch and use your hips as the power source. If you’re throwing a hook or uppercut it’s important you whip from your hips. I always try to imagine moving energy up from the soles of my feet up my torso, through my shoulder and into my hand as I punch. It’s all about muscle memory and over time it will become second nature.
And finally, practice, practice and practice. Build your endurance, speed and technique. Train outside of the boxing gym. A tool I have used for years is shadow boxing and it’s a brilliant way to improve your boxing and your rhythm. Just do 10 minutes a day in your room or even in your garden. Imagine you are fighting another person. Block and move from there punches and use different combinations you have learnt from the boxing gym; have fun with it. Practice makes perfect!
There are hundred to choose from, brand, style and weight. For me I would go with a good pair of gloves that are going to last a long time and are comfortable. 16oz for the big guys and 14oz for the girls. Why the heavy gloves? Because this will build strength and power. When you try a 10oz on after training with a 16oz you won’t even know you have a 10oz glove on!
- For the person who wants a serious pair of high quality gloves that are going to last a long time.
- For the complete beginner and someone who wants to give boxing ago but not spend a lot of money I would go for these.
A good pair of wraps are simple and cheap buy a very good investment for your hands.
The most common sizes you will see are 120" and 180". When you have smaller hands you should consider buying shorter wraps and vice vera.
A good a pair of pads is essential! You’re going to be hitting these things a lot! They need to sturdy and hard wearing. But also, lightweight and comfortable for the person who’s holding them!
The skipping rope is going to be your best friend from now on.
The simplest but effective piece of equipment to build speed, endurance and co-ordination.
For a great all-rounder this would be my choice. A fully adjustable leather rope with adjustable weights. It will last a long time and you can adjust the weights to increase the difficulty.
I have always been a big believer of foam rolling. Rolling your body over these spiky things has been shown to have many health benefits. In boxing, it is important to stay loose and ‘keep the flow’. I would always suggest foam rolling 3 times a week to stay supple and it’s quite relaxing… When you get used to it!
I use this one a lot, it’s small enough to carry, big enough to get the job done but also not too intense while rolling.
TOP PLACES to train In LONDON
KObox provides a new experience of boxing. They call it, boxing club meets nightclub. A dark studio, flashing lights and loud music (they play some pretty good tunes as well!) It’s just you and the bag in a high intensity fast paced workout. I think it’s an awesome idea and it really works. In a busy lifestyle, you need a time to just switch off, KObox allows you to do this perfectly combining heavy bag work with functional strength training to build an all-around, well-conditioned physique while also having a lot of fun! The club itself is quite like a Barry’s Bootcamp with the furniture and the vibe. I like the fact that there is no membership. The way it works is, you pay for a specific amount of classes, rather than a monthly subscription, so there is no contract.
LOCATION -122 Kings Road, London SW3 4TR
KNOWN FOR - Slick modern boxercise style gym with a club like vibe. Head down for gruelling classes by great trainers.
WHO TRAINS THERE -
EXPENSE - ££
I went to train at BXR for an event with Clinique and I was very impressed with the set-up and the neatness of the gym. When I was there, we did a small boxing class and it was very intense! A tucked away, dark room with different coloured lights and some loud music! The gym itself has every piece of equipment you could ever need… It’s own professionally sized boxing ring, an array of boxing bags, pull-up bars, sprint lines, tyres and of course, all the state of the art cardio and strength machines. They have combined primal/bodyweight training with weights and cardio perfectly. They have also incorporated a treatment rooms run by head of science & medicine for GB Boxing & director of sport & exercise medicine at CHHP Dr. Mike Loosemore. Their moto is literally ‘train like a champion!’ And if you didn’t know, one of the gyms partners is British heavy weight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua!
KNOWN FOR - Slick setup so you can train like World Champion Anthony Joshua. This is the future of boxing gyms.
WHO TRAINS THERE - Anthony Joshua, Mark Ronson & Victoria Secret Angels.
EXPENSE - £££
Founded in 1884, Repton boxing club is the oldest established boxing gym in England. The club’s motto is 'Non Viscara...Non Gloria' which means 'No Guts...No Glory'. Repton is for serious, competitive boxers only. If you are a beginner or looking for a boxfit class, one of the other gyms may be more suited for you. While other clubs have modernised, Repton takes pride in its 'retro' look and is basically the same venue as when Ronnie and Reggie Kray traded blows, back in the day. The club has been used for films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and music videos for Plan B and Take That. This is my sort of gym, real old school, hardcore training.
LOCATION - The Bath House
London E2 6EG
KNOWN FOR - You can smell the history at repot and the guys are top blokes with all the skills and years of knowledge.
WHO TRAINS THERE - Well Reggie & Ronnie Cray are on the list.
EXPENSE - £
Peacock Gym is renowned throughout the boxing world. A charity founded in 1978, Peacock, like Stonebridge below, is a testament to the communal work a good boxing gym can provide. Pro boxing and Cardio area, an Amateur Room, an Aerobics Hall and separate zones for fixed and free weights all are available under the peacock’s roof. But, it’s not just a hardcore boxing gym they have variety of different classes. From circuit training, Muay Thai, kickboxing and yoga. It’s a real combat/conditioning gym. Numerous fighters, from Lennox Lewis to Ricky Hatton, have sparred in its rings. Floyd Mayweather enjoyed a public workout at the Peacock in 2009. Who said "it was like being back home. The place is top class, the people there know boxing and those fans were fantastic." Pro boxing and Cardio area, an Amateur Room, an Aerobics Hall and separate zones for fixed and free weights. But, the best bit is… They have their own café!
LOCATION - Caxton Street, Canning Town London E16 1JL
KNOWN FOR - Traditional training and set up with some top class fighters on the books. Head down in the evening for a class.
WHO TRAINS THERE - Its a favourite with the pros. Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton and Lennox have all trained and sparred here.
EXPENSE - £
A new chain of London boxing gyms is 1 rebel. Another ‘nightclub’’ style gym. Dark rooms, loud tunes and boxing. I love it! Rumble keeps training fun and challenging, incorporating explosive speed, footwork and strength… Mental and physical. It's a savage 45 minute workout fueled by loud music and adrenaline! 1Rebel give you two high intensity fitness classes to choose from, 'Ride' or 'Reshape,' that will push your limits and put your usual workout routine to shame. Again, there's no contract to sign you simply 'pay-as-you-train' by booking each session online.
LOCATION - 63 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8LE
KNOWN FOR - Londons hottest gym offering all sorts of training classes and the best DJ.
WHO TRAINS THERE - Pop Star Jess Glynn, Millie Mackintosh and the shorditch cool.
EXPENSE - ££
Another hardcore, train insane kind of gym! Stonebridge Boxing Club, trusted by the likes of Amir Khan and Audley Harrison was founded in 2010. The gym itself has a style based on the Kronk Gym of Detroit, where fighters such as Thomas Hearns were trained by Emmanuel Steward. Stonebridge is not a ‘play’ gym. With the words on the Stonebridge website describing the gym, "With the windows shut and the heating on full blast, the gym turns into a furnace and the blood, sweat and tears can be tasted and smelt. When a session is in full-flow; the rhythmic beat of skipping, the thud of punches on the heavy bags and footsteps in the ring create this amazing, electric energy and atmosphere. This is not the place to have fun or a laugh, only the truly committed and dedicated survive the SBC experience." I have been to a good few gyms with this mentality and training methods, especially in America. It’s a real thrill and there’s a lot of energy, sweat, tears and determination. This gym is not for the faint hearted!
LOCATION - 37-41 Winchelsea Road, Willesden, London, NW10 8UN
KNOWN FOR - Old School set up and serious training.
WHO TRAINS THERE - James De Gale and Amir Kahn to name a few
EXPENSE - £