When someone mentions boxing, people usually envision great boxing champions like Floyd Mayweather or “Sugar” Ray Robinson fighting in a ring, throwing hooks and uppercuts. However, boxing has also evolved into a popular way for ordinary people to stay fit. It is called fitness boxing, and it doesn’t require you to take any punches or get into a ring, so there is no risk of head trauma or bruises. Fitness boxing has adapted boxing movements into exercise routines that bring many physical and mental health benefits and require you to think, change your posture, and change your position. You punch and squat as you perform boxing basics while getting a good workout. You are always on your toes, agile and light, trying to weave, dodge, and respond.
Traditional boxing requires you to spar with a partner, while fitness boxing involves throwing punches at a punching bag or at the air, usually in a class. These exercise classes come in two main forms: in one, you follow an instructor and do a series of moves to music, while the other type of exercise class involves stretching, strength training, and hitting a punching bag.
The Beneficial Challenge of Fitness Boxing
Throwing punches and dodging correctly is harder than most people think . It requires you to put your entire body into it, pushing off from your feet, rotating your torso, coordinating body and hands, as well as your brain – all at once. If you are looking to add a cardio component to your strength-training routine that will keep your mind engaged (some people find the stationary bike or treadmill to be monotonous), this is the perfect activity for you.
Fitness boxing is an excellent cardio workout that improves strength, aerobic levels, and cognitive skills. Anyone can engage in fitness boxing, regardless of height and weight. This is probably what makes fitness boxing so popular nowadays. It’s for everyone, no matter what your fitness age or level is, thanks to inclusive group classes or access to a diverse group of trainers that can personalize your workouts. The best part is that there is no additional gym equipment required as all you need is to get off the couch and get moving. In recent years, many boxing gyms and gym chains opened around the country, providing a variety of boxing-inspired group fitness for people who enjoy working out cooperatively.
What are the Physical Health Benefits of Fitness Boxing?
One of the main reasons behind the surge in popularity of fitness boxing is that it offers both cardio and strength benefits in one workout. Besides, it is fun to do, and workouts are relatively short (between 20 and 45 minutes each). The physical health benefits of fitness boxing include:
- Improved total-body strength
Large punching bags can weigh well over 200 pounds, while a small punching bag is around 90 pounds. As for boxing gloves, they come in various weights, with the lightest ones weighing about a pound. During one fitness boxing session, you might punch a bag more than a hundred times while engaging your core, lower, and upper body. Certain fitness boxing workouts incorporate moves like planks, push-ups, and squats, as well as a medicine ball and a jump rope. Some take things up a notch and really test your skills by having you perform moves while on a balance board. These additional exercises will help you strengthen and tone your entire body and improve cardiovascular fitness.
- Improved cardiovascular health
Along with a proper nutrition plan and maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in cardio training is important for protecting against heart disease. Cardio training places moderate stress on the lungs and the heart, which enables them to physiologically adapt in order to support your physical activity. By repeatedly punching, kicking, and jumping, you will elevate your heart rate and keep it up for the duration of your fitness boxing sessions. Over time, fitness boxing will boost oxygen supply and increase the heart rate, making the lungs and heart stronger and healthier because they have to work harder to supply oxygen throughout the body. Ultimately, that will improve your endurance and stamina.
- Strengthened and toned muscles
Including fitness boxing in your daily workout is a great way to build muscle and enhance your punching power. Your chest muscles, back, shoulders, and arms will be worked and toned with every punch you throw. Because of the resistance your body generates as it stabilizes itself, your leg muscles will also come into play. That makes this type of exercise ideal if you want to build muscle (along with becoming more powerful and fit).
- Burn calories and fat
Depending on your age, weight, gender, and the intensity of training, fitness boxing workouts can burn between 450 and 650 calories in one hour (on average). Also, the calories burned while boxing with a light punching bag won’t exceed those burned when using a heavy bag. Besides the calorie burn, fitness boxing helps burn visceral fat (also known as stomach fat), which is located inside your abdominal cavity, and carrying too much of it can cause serious health problems. With fitness boxing, you can eliminate visceral fat to improve both your health and appearance. The training won’t make you bigger, but will definitely improve your definition.
- Improved hand-eye coordination
During a fitness boxing session, you need to focus on the punching bag, hit it as it’s moving, and react quickly to change position. In reality, this is more challenging than it sounds and requires good hand-eye coordination. Over time, your reflexes, reaction times, and gross and fine motor skills will improve as well as your hand-eye coordination.
What are the Mental Benefits of Fitness Boxing?
- Reduced stress
Almost any physical exercise that is performed at a moderate or fast pace will lower your stress levels, including fitness boxing. And who wouldn’t want to punch their way into a better day? It is quite therapeutic because, with every punch you make, you will relieve both mental and physical tension. Your body will release endorphins (one of the so-called happiness hormones) that will stimulate your mood and further reduce your stress levels.
As your punching skills continue to advance, you will move to more complex punching/defending combinations. Having to remember such a high number of moves in a particular order is your mental exercise, which is equally important as the physical aspect of fitness boxing. Also, fitness boxing forces you to be present in the moment, and this mental presence is known as mindfulness. Another way to be more mindful is through meditation.
Whether you are training with an instructor or in a group class alongside other students, you need to be aware of your surroundings. It is a mental task that requires you to use your peripheral vision to know where others are and is valuable in other areas of your day-to-day life.
How Does Boxing Impact Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that causes the brain to produce less dopamine. This makes it harder for the body to manage emotions and coordinate movements. About 60,000 people get diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year (in the U.S. alone). The symptoms include cognitive changes, loss of balance, a softened voice, slowed movements, a shuffling walk, and tremors (along with other symptoms). Treatments for Parkinson’s are tailored to manage only individual symptoms, and there is no cure. What can have a protective effect on one’s brain and help slow the progression of the disease is vigorous exercise.
Boxers and their caregivers have seen significant improvements in their symptoms, but the research is still limited. Richard Ross is a boxer who first noticed getting sleeping problems, a shuffling gait, and tremors. After consistent attendance to boxing training, he began feeling more flexible, stronger and managed to regain his confidence.
To support this idea of tending to Parkinson’s disease, more case studies began to emerge. The results of a small study that involved several boxers in the Rock Steady Boxing Foundation showed that following through a 12-week training regime could improve one’s symptoms. As for those who were training consistently for 34-36 weeks saw even more improvements (even if they trained less after those initial 12 weeks). In the case of participants with more severe symptoms, they took longer to see changes. However, after a few weeks of training, their dedication paid off as they showed long- and short-term improvements in the quality of life and activities of daily living.
Fitness is not a one-time thing but a lifestyle that can give you more than building muscle and losing weight. You can’t wake up one morning feeling stiff and aching and decide physical activity is not for you. Money can buy many things, but it cannot buy health, and staying healthy is one of the prerequisites for leading a happy and fulfilled life. We at Total Fitness have dedicated our lives to helping others and spreading positive messages. When it comes to boxing (as well as other types of exercise), the staff at Total Fitness understands how crucial it is to track your progress and learn about proper form and technique. We feel that achieving your goals starts by selecting from different fitness programs to find one that works for you and your lifestyle. Choose from our professional trainers and customize your fitness plan. The fitness boxing instructors at Total Fitness have a specialized approach and organize classes that combine strength, core strength, functional movement, and cardio training.