Boxing is one of those sports that offers a lot of versatility in terms of where it can be practised. It’s easy to train individually, as part of a bigger group at your local boxing gym, or alongside a personal trainer - and here we’re going to look at how each of these options might benefit you when you practice boxing for beginners.
Even though there are lots of opportunities when it comes to practising boxing, you will need an introduction to the sport’s fundamentals. This is just to make sure you’re doing everything right, even if your long term goal is to train alone. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Always the best place to start boxing, the boxing gym is full of people passionate about the sport who will be happy to show you the basics. As footwork, power and hand speed are key to progressing within the discipline, a good trainer will have you moving like a pro after a few sessions.
Boxing gyms are also full of seasoned boxers and even the odd professional, so you can get tips just by watching others work the pads and bags. In general, a gym is cheaper than studio classes such as boxercise, and the training is similar to that of a fighter preparing for a full contact bout
Sparring is optional and usually takes place on set days so that participants don’t feel pressured to fight one-on-one. A standard session at a boxing gym lasts around 2 hours and is a mix of cardio training and boxing technique.
Boxercise is very much about fitness and stamina, a great cardio workout based on boxing without any actual one-on-one combat. It’s easy to pick up and is a lot less skills-focused than a boxing gym workout. It’s also a great way to participate in a class with a friend, a partner or just on your own.
There is generally a lot of pad work involved with intense 2-3 minute circuits with short 30 second intervals just like boxing rounds. Boxercise classes are generally available at leisure centres, local gyms and sports halls, with some even offering boxercise classes that involve kickboxing and Muay Thai techniques for the more nimble and adventurous.
If you have the money to invest, a personal trainer is by far the quickest and most efficient way to get up to perfect your boxing skills. One on one sessions help quickly identify areas for improvement, building solid technique and confidence faster than you would in a group.
Personal trainers can either come to your home to take you through your paces or to a gym they are familiar with. They are flexible and often give good dietary advice as an added bonus. If you’re someone who struggles at times to find motivation, then a personal trainer could be an ideal starting point on your way to becoming an accomplished boxer.
What equipment is needed for an introduction to boxing?
You can always check first what type of kit the club or class you are attending have in advance. Chances are they will have an old sweaty pair of gloves lying around for you to use in your first lesson. The two things you will need that clubs won’t have is a pair of hand wraps and a mouthguard that has been moulded to the shape of your teeth. Here are a few other pieces of kit you may want to consider.
If you’re considering full contact sparring, a head guard is a must. It acts as a further layer of protection between your opponent’s shots and your head and can offer added confidence if you’re new to full contact training.
Size is the major factor you’ll need to consider when choosing the right one. If a head guard is too big you risk being exposed to shots and having your vision restricted which will stop you seeing punches coming in. A head guard that is too tight will restrict blood flow, which will impact your overall performance negatively.
If you’re planning on taking up Kickboxing or Muay Thai, leg pads will help keep you free from niggling injuries. They cover your shins, along with the top of your feet and can be used for both sparring and training. Leg Pads come in various sizes and thicknesses, so it’s always handy to try a pair on before your purchase.
Standard western boxing requires a lot of movement to get in and out of range at speed. Due to this, the risk of foot and ankle injuries are high. To combat this, boxing boots help support your feet and combat the risk of rolling an ankle. They are also thinner than a regular sneaker and help you stay on your toes whilst feeling light on your feet.
Alternative ways to practice boxing
Once you’ve got the basics down and you start to move with ease, punching with power and accuracy - you can consider practising boxing from pretty much wherever you want. You can either use space at home (garden, garage) or throw your kit in the car and head off to an outdoor location with a mate or a training partner.
Practising Boxing at home
Boxing is very easy to practice alone at home if you have a spare room or garage with about five square metres of space. The most effective option for training at home is using a punching bag in one of its many forms. Punch bags can either be stand-alone with a heavy base and a flexible top or hung from a fixed chain and bracket usually from a beam within a ceiling.
When training alone it is also still important to fight in rounds as if you were in the gym, so some form of timing apparatus, that doesn’t require removing your gloves every two or three minutes, is really important. It is also essential to wear your wraps, gloves and mouthguard at all times.
Practising Boxing With A Friend or Training Partner
If you’re training at home with a friend, you may also want to purchase a set of pads for a more natural moving target. If you have a regular training partner it can add a lot more variation to your sessions and it also helps with motivation. You can even take your boxing on the road, by putting our kit in the car and heading into the great outdoors - there are no set rules in that respect.
What equipment do I need to train at home or with a friend?
Home training offers great flexibility and certainly works out cheaper in the long run. But, if you want to keep sessions interesting and of a high standard, investing in some basic boxing apparatus is a must.
There are many different weights and lengths of punching bags on the market for various combat disciplines such as Boxing, Muay Thai and Kickboxing. If you want to eventually start using your bag to practice kicks you must consider two things - bag resistance - making sure the bag is not too light or too heavy - and the space you have to work with.
There is no point buying a longer bag to practice roundhouse kicks if you’re going to clatter into shelving or dormant objects in your shed! Where possible, try out bags before purchase, or ask a store advisor about the types of products available for your chosen discipline.
Boxing Punching Pads
Again, the type of pads needed will be determined by whether you will solely use your hands or both hands and feet. Smaller pads for boxing are light, small and easy to store for the home gym and a great alternative to sparring. Pads for Thai boxing or kickboxing are much bigger and therefore less practical to store. Getting to grips with how to hold pads is also pretty important to avoid injury, which is why a few sessions at a local class before attempting at home is well advised.
When you train at a gym, the timing is all done for you. If you’re training at home or with a mate, you’re going to have to look after it yourself to ensure progress and adequate rests between rounds. Many people argue that this can be done with modern smartphone apps, but if you’re working out alone, the last thing you want to be doing is removing your gloves constantly to restart the timer.
A proper boxing timer will be more expensive than an app but will go some way to making your training easy - leaving you focused on pushing your limits and improving technique. Timers can be set for multiple length rounds with varying options for intervals. The key is to start with shorter rounds and build over time.