As a young mum, who was both studying and working, fitness was not my priority for years. When I finally decided to return to physical activity, I found myself trying everything from yoga to jogging, and getting bored. Finally, in March 2019, a friend convinced me to go along to a free boxing for fitness class, and I was hooked.
Since my first class, I have participated in several different styles of boxing, from cardio-based Piloxing to self-defence focused Muay Thai, and loved all of them. In general, boxing gives me a space to work through any frustrations Iâ€™m experiencing, while also getting fit and building strength. There is also something about learning how to defend myself that is not only satisfying but also makes me feel powerful in my own way.
Piloxing is a non-contact group fitness program based on a mixture of Pilates, boxing and dance. According to the Piloxing website, this cardio-based workout gives you the perfect blend of muscle lengthening Pilates, strength building boxing, and high energy dance moves. Personally, I find that Piloxing is great when Iâ€™m wanting that extra cardio boost to my week or need a break from the higher-contact styles.
Â Boxing for Fitness
For me, Boxing for Fitness provides a bit more of a frustration releasing workout than Piloxing because you actually get to hit things! Generally, you will be partnered with other class members, taking turns to box and pad-hold, however, in this style, you wonâ€™t be sparring or learning any self-defence. With that being said, it is an amazing full-body workout and will give you the foundational techniques for the other styles.
â€˜Amateur boxingâ€™ is higher contact than boxing for fitness and will incorporate more foot-work and sparring techniques. If youâ€™re interested in self-defence or competitive boxing, this style will give you the techniques and training progression to reach those goals.
Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is referred to as â€˜The Art of Eight Limbsâ€™ and incorporates the use of fists, elbows, knees and shins as eight points of contact. In effect this allows the body to operate as one unit to defend and use grappling as an opportunity to find an opening to attack and spin an opponent to the ground. Personally, I find Muay Thai to be a great full body and cardio workout with techniques that can be used for self-defence, as well as sparring.
Â Getting Started
Finding a gym
Finding a gym that suits you will depend on your goals. If you want a cardio-based full-body workout most gyms with group fitness classes will offer a Piloxing or â€˜Boxfitâ€™ type session. Alternatively, there are thousands of videos online that will guide you through your high energy workout in the comfort of your own home.
If your goal is to learn to defend yourself or become a competitive fighter, youâ€™ll need a gym dedicated to a specific style of boxing. To find a professional boxing gym, my advice is to look for a coach who has either trained winning competitive fighters or has been a competitive fighter themselves. These coaches will not only be passionate about boxing but will also make sure you learn the correct techniques which will reduce the risk of injury and improve your workout.
If youâ€™re not sure what you want out of boxing but just want to start something, try them all. Find a style that suits you. Many gyms will offer open-days or a free trial class, take advantage of these offers to find what you enjoy. Just remember that this is not a long-term solution. Each style will have a different way of doing things and unless, unlike me, you have a super-human ability to compartmentalise each style, you will end up having some cross-over in what YOU are doing if you donâ€™t eventually choose a style to focus on.
As in most sports, there will be some equipment requirements and youâ€™ll want comfortable clothing for all styles.
Piloxing can be conducted as a bodyweight workout, however, there is the option to wear weighted gloves to intensify your workout. Your instructor will have the best place to get appropriate weighted gloves in your local area.
For the higher contact styles, you will want, at a minimum, gloves and pads. Some gyms will offer loan gear, but you can pick up a new set fairly inexpensively at Kmart, Target or BigW to start with.
For any sparring, you will also need a mouthguard. These are available from most sporting equipment stores or online.
Everyone I have trained with has commented on how uncoordinated they felt, at first. When I first started, I felt like Iâ€™d forgotten how to tell my left from my right. Particularly with Amateur Boxing and Muay Thai, moving into extended combos and incorporating the use of footwork and sparring techniques can take some time to get the hang of. If youâ€™re not used to moving that way it will feel strange, but a good coach will talk you through what you are doing with your body and how you can improve. Once you feel how the technique works, and how powerful you feel, youâ€™ll be hooked too.
Get someone to film what you are doing and watch it back. Look for the differences in what your body is doing and what you are being shown. Just remember you are your own worst critic, so donâ€™t be too hard on yourself. Everyone who was ever good at anything had to start somewhere.
Any form of boxing is a great full body and cardio workout. Piloxing and boxing for fitness are more cardio-focused, whereas Amateur Boxing and Muay Thai will also help you build strength and learn how to defend yourself in the unlikely event you find yourself in a dangerous situation. For me, the greatest benefit is having a space to turn frustration or stresses into something positive.