So in standard Gymbox fashion, they developed a new class called counter-punch to bridge the gap between a full-on boxing class with sparring and Fightklub. It’s led not just by a gym instructor, but in this instance at Farringdon, an actual real life pro-Boxer in the form of Hannah Rankin. Now that’s an important fact; you’re going to be learning real boxing, real skills and the correct workouts to achieve the fitness needed to get you into the boxing ring. Should you so wish; having been put through my paces with Hannah, I can assure you this session works just as effectively as a HIIT session as a stepping stone into the boxing ring. Working out on a heavy bag can burn between 354 and 558 calories per hour, depending on your weight and the intensity of the workout, and this was no lightweight session. Hannah’s a ball of energy, which for a Friday morning session is always welcome to ensure you get 100% out of your class at the end of a tiring week. Hannah also teaches the Gymbox white collar boxing, so you know you’ll get someone who can take you from complete noob to boxer.
We went through a tough warm up consisting of movements to free up our hips, hip flexors, backs and legs. We’d need loose joints to be able to move around freely to swing our punches correctly. We were then lined up for shadow boxing, moving rapidly but controlled to start shaping up our ability to generate power in our punches. Shadow boxing is an important skill; it feels weird at first but is crucial to prepare your mind and body to move and hit properly. Hannah then lined us up with small 1 – 2kg dumbbells (as the big boy in the group I picked up, later to my shoulders’ regret, the 2.5kgs) and had us throwing weighted punches while moving our legs, to get us co-ordinating our legs with our upper body. Again, not as easy as it sounds.
From there we moved into HIIT routines on the bags, throwing combinations of jabs, crosses, hooks and upper cuts. Keeping the weight on the back foot, throwing a jab after a step forward on the front foot and keeping the back hand up to maintain the guard. Doing all of this in a co-ordinated manner, while generating power, began to really get the sweat on. Hannah didn’t let us sit on the bags for long though; soon we were into combos of squats, lunges, mountain climbers, burpees and push-ups. Rotating between the bags and the exercises, shoulders burning and sweat pouring, we swung away as Hannah kept an eye on our technique.
Of course, no boxing class would be complete without a horrific core workout. Pulling us all into the ring, Hannah put us through combos of tough abs exercises, which were extra tough after 40 minutes of boxing in which holding the core tight and strong is key to keeping stable, and ensuring should you ever step into the boxing ring for real, your core is hard ready to block punches and protect your body.
Counter punch is neither a full boxing class nor Fightklub. It’s a great bridge between the two. If you’ve always looked on the boxing class but worried about not having the confidence or the fitness to throw yourself in, then counter punch is a great place to start. It’s real boxing, with real pro-boxers without needing to worry about someone punching you on the nose!