If you’re tired of working out with weights or treadmills, do yourself a favour and join a boxing gym. And if you don’t know anything about boxing gyms, then this article is for you.
1. Decide on Your Goals
Before even searching for gyms, you may want to decide what you intend on getting out of it first. Do you just want to get fit? Ask yourself whether you’d prefer to workout individually and utilizing the gyms equipment, or whether you want to participate in group workouts guided by a trainer. Maybe both (which I recommend). If you intend on competing in the sport, you’ll want more one-on-one time with trainers. Your goals will define what your gym requirements are.
2. What You’ll Need
Shoes: Get workout clothes, especially workout shoes. You don’t want to wear your smelly boxing shoes around casually. I would highly recommend shoes with ankle support, and wide outsoles that provide stability and prevent ankle sprains (ankle sprains are no joke!). This is especially important if you intend on sparring, as you’ll need to be very mobile under pressure. Many basketball shoes are great for this.
Gloves/Hand wraps: Gyms tend to offer boxing gloves and hand wraps, but I’d urge you to get your own. Boxing gloves for public use are sweaty and full of bacteria, and often in rough shape. You want to make sure you’re protecting your hands with proper padding and tight wrist support, something both well-fitting boxing gloves and hand wraps will accomplish. Look up how to properly wrap your hands on YouTube as to avoid all-too-common wrist injuries.
Mouthguard: This is only necessary if you plan on sparring. You can find them at any sports stores, like Dick’s Sporting Goods. You’ll boil the mouthguard and bite down on it to form a comfortable, tight fit.
3. Searching for a Gym
Membership prices: Membership prices vary greatly, and gyms tend to offer different membership plans to fit your needs. You could find yourself paying over $100 per monthat some gyms, or around $200 per year for others. Only you know what your budget is and you should, by this point, have an idea of what your needs are. Also, make sure to check reviews of gyms that intrigue you. Many gyms offer free trials as well, so try them out for yourself!
Location: Location is another important factor. It’s related to your budget, because a gym within walking distance and a gym ten train stops away will have a different effect on your wallet. Distance can also influence your motivation to workout. So, if you know your tendencies, maybe a gym that’s closer is optimal for you. While I was living in Boston, my gym was a 40-minute train ride away, even though there were gyms closer to me. That worked for me because I absolutely loved my gym and I even began to enjoy the almost daily train rides, believe it or not. Point is, travel distance shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.
4. Overcoming Nerves
Intimidation: As I said, many people are nervous about joining a gym, and perhaps the idea of a boxing gym is even more intimidating. Some of them areintimidating, but this doesn’t mean they’re not great gyms. The first boxing gym I went to in my hometown was run by strict trainers with a militaristic style of coaching. I showed up late one time, and they separated me from the group to do planks, pushups, and jumping jacks. I’m sure many would quit and never come back at that point, but guess what? You’re not going to a gym to have a relaxing, rosy time. You’re there to push yourself and to get results! If you embrace that mentality and accept that your coaches are doing exactly what they should do to make you realize your potential, you’ll be thankful for the work they put in.
Anxiety: If your anxiety comes from a self-conscious place, that’s something I can relate to. I can assure you that the only way of overcoming that feeling is to just go. After going to the gym a few times, you’ll shake that feeling quickly, and you may even start preferring working out around others after some time. Not only will you get more comfortable in the gym, but it will have a ripple effect on the rest of your life as well. Going to the boxing gym was the greatest mental therapy I’ve ever had. So if you’re generally an anxious person, not only about joining a gym, then great! You’re already at the doorstep of helping yourself in more ways than you know.
5. Train Smart
Workout Routine: The final thing I’ll touch on is, once in the gym, make sure you train smart. Vary your workout routine. Don’t do what I did and get so hooked on the punching bag and not allow your arms to recover properly. I still have some problems with my wrists and elbows because I trained so intensely on the bag for months without listening to my body.
Drink Water: Hydration is extremely important, especially in boxing. If you plan on sparring, you will be getting hit in the head, so you want to protect your brain as much as you possibly can. One way of doing that is staying hydrated so that your brain is more protected when it receives shocks. It can take a long time for your brain to recover from dehydration, however, so drink a lot of water 24/7. It’s not enough to drink water only during the workout or shortly after. Drink throughout the day, every day.
Protect Your Head: Another way of protecting your brain in sparring is finding headgear that is comfortable for you. Maybe the headgear provided by your gym doesn’t fit you right, obstructs your vision, or slides around. If you’re busy adjusting your headgear or if you can’t see punches coming, you will get hit more. At that point, buying headgear may be a worthwhile investment for your health. Also, don’t forget your mouthguard.
Nutrition: Lastly, read an introductory book on nutrition so that you know what your body needs, and what your optimal calorie intake is. This will change whether you want to gain, lose, or maintain weight. Instead of just hoping for results, ensure it.
Thanks for reading, and I hope I provided some helpful tips. If you have additional questions, there’s a great community on Reddit called /r/Amateur_Boxing that I highly recommend.