Member and writer Tom Wheatley is back. This week we sent him into one of most long-standing classes, Gymboxing, at Gymbox Farringdon. And this is what he discovered...
Up until now I’d never tried any sort of boxing. In fact I’ve never actually been particularly interested in even watching boxing save for the occasional big fight. Like most men I have a deep engrained respect for it; an almost sub conscious understanding that as sports go it’s up there as one of the most obvious displays of masculinity. I, like a great deal of other men that have never tried it, also harboured a belief that I’d probably be quite good it. I may have even had the odd daydream where, after trying out just a few punches in the gym, I’m approached by a shocked trainer who proclaims loudly “You’re a natural, you’ve got a knockout punch.”
This is possibly what watching Rocky films too often as a kid does to you.
In reality the main reason I’ve never tried any sort of boxing is not because of the gruelling training regime, it’s not even because I’m worried I won’t actually be any good at it, my main reason for holding back is that I’ve never been that keen on being punched. I’m guessing this is a common theme – either that or I’m just a wimp. Probably both.
Irregardless of my fears, after being asked to try out the class for the blog I decided to give it a go. It was as good a reason as any and I have an issue with saying no if someone challenges me to do something (see previous post on 1980s dance classes).
When I turned up to Farringdon I pulled out the expensive unused boxing gloves I bought around about May and made my way to the combat area. Unfortunately I turned up halfway through a Muay Thai class that was going on. Watching people being knocked around the ring wasn’t helping to allay any of my concerns.
With basically no understanding of boxing training formats, aside from a few YouTube videos and a documentary about Andrew Flintoff, I listened intently to trainer Derek as he started us off. The class works in three minute blocks, marked out by the sound of a buzzer to tell you when the round/drill is over. The first was shadow boxing to warm-up, my UFC fit training came in to play as I bobbed, weaved and jabbed along with everyone else. So far so good.
We then moved onto pad work. Working in pairs we each took it in turns to carry out some punch combos. It was at this point (about 10 minutes in) that I realised this was actually going to be a pretty tough workout. Boxing, unlike most other classes I do, requires a combination of high intensity exercise and concentration. If you’re lacking either one you’re going to struggle. In something like UFC Fit or Bartendaz you just watch and follow to instructions; after a while you can almost go on auto pilot.
We then got rid of the pads and worked on a training drill of body targeting. Mimicking actual sparring this meant we worked in pairs to land body shots. This is about the point I started to get pretty tired. Three minutes of concentrating on a man in front of you trying to land a punch is both physically and mentally exhausting.
After some bag drills, a bit of skipping (something I hadn’t done since school) and a core session we were done. Covered in sweat and panting like a dog I downed my water secure in the knowledge I’d just had a pretty good workout.
As far as my fears of boxing go Gymboxing is actually not that scary. It’s tough, you’ll get an amazing workout and after a few weeks I can imagine you’ll see some clear fitness benefits. The class is a mix of levels but it’s relaxed. As I wobbled about trying to remember combos every person I worked with helped me out and gave advice. I doubt I’ll ever get in the ring for a real fight, but as far as fitness goes, you’ll struggle to find another class that will give you as good a workout.