January is drawing to a close, we’re scraping through to payday, and the weather only seems to be getting colder.
So you’d be forgiven if your good intentions to smash your fitness goals (along with the best laid plans to quit drinking/smoking/doomscrolling) have fallen by the wayside.
Whilst 2022 was the year to do away with unrealistic ‘New Year, New Me’ cliches, it’s never a bad time to increase your activity or take up a new hobby – and exercise should never be considered as a punishment for eating, but rather a celebration of movement AND an opportunity to meet new people and diversify your weekly routine.
The secret is finding something you enjoy, and that might be something way out of comfort zone. Women are often led to believe that cardio is king, which leads to hours spent in the gym rotating from machine to machine with one eye always trained on the (usually completely inaccurate) calorie consumption. Let 2022 be the year you step AWAY from the cross trainer and try something new.
It might seem obvious, but a great way to learn to enjoy exercise as a full package, rather than just a means to a (weight loss) end, is to look into finding some sports you might enjoy. There’s traditional racket sports you can play at your local park or leisure centre, and joining a football netball team is a great way to make friends.
Boxing for fitness has been growing in popularity for a good few years now, and while ‘Boxfit’ classes like body combat – boxing and other combat inspired classes done without equipment usually – are popular in gyms, there’s SO MUCH to be said for getting in a ring, working with pads and partner or taking it all out on bag. As well as delivering a seriously sweaty cardio hit and a mental work out (that fancy footwork is no joke), boxing uses resistance to build up muscle and tone wobbly bits – not to mention confidence and a properly bad ass attitude.
Like many combat sports, boxing has up until recently been considered a male dominated arena, but in the last few years there’s been a major effort made by dedicated studios and PT’s to introduce female friendly and female only spaces to learn and work out, with many former and current semi-pro and amateur boxers lending their skill to teaching a new generation the joys of the sport.
Ailsa Mullins is one such boxer who also works as a trainer at BLOK studio, which has studios in London and Manchester.
In case you needed any more convincing, here’s what Ailsa Mullins herself had to say about boxing.
What are some of the barriers that stop women taking up a sport like boxing?
Boxing is still a heavily male-dominated sport, and even though the community around boxing is super inclusive and supportive, the first step in can be nerve-wracking. There are a lot of 'firsts' when taking up boxing; how the hell do you wrap your hands, what are all the names of punches, but any good coach will walk you through it.
What’s behind the explosion in popularity of boxing at the moment?
There are a few different things pushing women's boxing into the spotlight. From a cultural POV, it is an interesting time to be a woman. Boxing is empowering and makes you feel strong in both your body and mind, something that is a huge draw for a lot of people.
You also can't talk about women's boxing without mentioning the importance of London 2012, the first-year Women's Boxing was recognised as an Olympic sport. Trailblazers such as Katie Taylor, Ramla Ali, Nicola Adams & Terri Harper have all been huge driving forces of bringing the sport into the spotlight.
Is boxing a good alternative to more mainstream cardio like spinning on Zumba?
For me personally, I've also found a lot of mainstream cardio a hard one to stick to. But with boxing there is so much going on, in a session you are thinking about your breathing, footwork, power and speed. The added element of skill and competition is what got me hooked.
What specific benefits are there to pad work and training on the bag over classes like box fit?
Using bag and pad work brings a new skill aspect to a boxing workout. Rather than just trying to hit something as hard as you can, as a boxer, you become aware of how your body moves; using your full body in power and agility. It becomes as mentally tiring as it is physically, and with learning a new skill there is something very addictive about it.
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What are some of the things newbies should know before they try boxing for the first time?
You can't be terrible at something you've never done before. Don't compare yourself to anyone else and relax, it's going to be fun.
Keep your hands up, chin down and the rest will follow.
Is boxing effective for building muscle as well as burning calories?
Boxing won't build mass in the same way that lifting weights will, however, it is a full-body workout. Power is driven from your legs and core, and you'll start to see your strength build as you box.
BLOK studios offer a full timetable of classes including boxing and loads more across their three studios in Clapton (London), Shoreditch (London) and Manchester. Visit their website to find out more.