Box Your Way to Fitness

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It’s a brand new year and also the time when you are looking for new ways to stay fit. Well after all, we all need some motivation to keep the zing alive in our fitness regimen. So this year, why not look at boxing as a way to stay fit? Yes, boxing is ruling the roost as far as new age fitness trends for 2018 are concerned and is now coming out of the ring to a fitness center near you. After all the term “as fit as an athlete” is so commonplace that we all understand how fit they are. We give you the low down on what this means for you.

Boxing is a growing sport in the country. Gym goers have gotten inspired by the fitness levels of these athletes. “Looking at the fitness levels of these athletes, regular gym goers have adopted recreational boxing into their fitness routine as it gives results along with breaking the monotony of regular cardio on the treadmill. The addition of the fun element of cardio into the routine makes people more motivated not to skip cardio day,” says Prabodh Davkhare, Entrepreneur, Founder & MD, Nitrro Wellness & Fitness Hub. Samee Ahmed, Fitness Coach Fitness Celebrity Coach of actors like Sushant Singh Rajput and Karan Kundra explains, “boxing is not just in the ring anymore. The sport has become a fitness phenomenon, invading gyms across the country to provide a high intensity workout. Boxing is definitely an effective workout and the best part is that you get to punch stuff.” Shantanu Singh, MPT Sports, AktivHealth, New Delhi explains the process. “Jab is the lead hand punch thrown straight ahead with your non-dominant hand. Hook can be done with either hand, but you should focus more on the hook done with the lead (non-dominant) hand (hooks done with the other hand can leave you more vulnerable). The cross is thrown with the rear, dominant hand, which is farthest away from your target. Boxing routines such as shadow boxing and foot movement can be used with a slower pace for almost all of population unless they have a pathological condition that needs a more individualised program. Although boxing as well, has its own set of rules and technicalities to be followed but its relatively easier to modify them according to the needs of an individual, parameters such as speed of punching, weight of the sand bags, equipment used (speed bag, double end bag) and level of difficulty can be modified to fit the skills and level of fitness of a person regardless of age, weight and height and slowly it can be modified to make it more challenging and demanding in terms of energy and attention, using a sparring partner, using a double end bag or a speed bag makes the task more challenging and can be used for high intensity interval training (HIIT).”

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Packing a Punch

The benefit of boxing for non-sports persons is immense and improves cardiovascular endurance, hand-eye coordination, muscular endurance and strength in the muscles and connective tissues. Rishabh Telang, Master Trainer at CULT explains, “because of the nature of the sport boxing, because it involves a lot of impact, the drills are designed to make people attain their peak performance in order to allow their bodies to embrace impact without getting injured. Also he attacking mechanism through straight punches, hook, upper cuts are such that you end up recruiting all major muscles to transfer power into those punches. A straight punch or a hook might look like an upper body movement pre dominantly, but it engages your hamstrings, glutes and back muscles to generate power.” The reason why boxing is getting popular as a fitness option these days is because it helps people to achieve the fitness of a fighter, which is very holistic in nature. “Overall, boxing for one hour has all these benefits which in turn improves overall fitness levels. Apart from the fitness benefits, boxing also helps people learn some self-defense moves to help protect themselves better in unforeseen events,” adds Davkhare.

Accessibility Matters

Many gyms are now incorporating cardio boxing as an alternative to regular cardio and other group classes as the demand for these classes is in vogue. Boxing for regular people is not the same as it would be for professionals. The difference is that boxing can be added with bodyweight functional exercises in intervals for example punching the boxing pads for one min and performing a plank right after. This gives people the fun element of preforming the boxing routine which would be boring if they had to just punch the pads for one hour. “Boxing has helped me boost my overall fat burning process and has made me comparatively more agile than I used to be in a span of 3 months. Besides, it has kept me motivated to come to the gym regularly as I look forward to my boxing sessions,” says Anu Kumar, a 20 year old student based in Pune. Ajinkya Chavan, Club Manager, MultiFit avers, “boxing is becoming a trend in regular people because boxing is a complete fitness package. Combination of strength and endurance training with some agility and flexibility is playing a significant role. The trend of boxing is being adapted by film stars and regular people in their workout is also contributing to its popularity.”

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Scaling it Down

Boxing as a sport is universally scalable. Non athletes who participate in boxing training for fitness would still learn all the bio mechanics of the sport such as hitting a jab, cross, hook, uppercut along with all defense techniques such as slip, duck, etc. but all of them driven towards making people fit. “The training involves a good element of strength building movements along with movements that improve cardiovascular endurance and all the skills associated with the sport. The training is definitely scaled down for non-athletes by removing hard impact and using more cardio punches. The idea is to improve speed and reflexes through the training rather than making them hard core boxers,” says Telang. Boxing for nonprofessionals is less toned down and in the initial stages focuses more on strength and endurance building. Running and skipping, pushups and squats and some abs are the best way to initially start training for boxing,” explains Chavan who incidentally is a national gold medalist in the sport.

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Holistic Training

Boxing helps in self-defense more than any other technique. The training helps in improving reflexes, hand eye coordination, stamina, endurance and durability of joints and muscles. It also helps you to move faster as boxing involves quick foot work drills. “Boxing also has a huge element of conditioning involved and it definitely trains all three metabolic pathways to perform at their peak capacity, they are functional in nature and help you perform better at tasks that occur in everyday life and sport,” says Telang. In addition to boosting strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, boxing improves a number of skill-related parameters of fitness, including balance, coordination, reactivity, and agility. Apart from this it also fastens incineration of calories, flattens the belly, knocks out stress, builds grace, upper body cardio, keeps improving your body and safely pushes your limits. “According to measurements of health related quality of life outcome, those in the boxing workout group experienced an amazing 54% increase in vitality and a 25% improvement in general health. Also, one can never go wrong with punching and getting rid of all that stress,” adds Ahmed. Naturally it is finding a lot of acceptance among young girls as well. “Boxing has helped me enhance my overall fitness routine and is like cherry on the cake. It has not only helped me tone my upper body but has also helped in getting rid of anger and has improved my mood as well. Punching something is all I need when I am agitated and that is exactly how boxing helps me and it is also a great method of self-defense,” says Saumya Swamy, 21, a content writer based in Mumbai. The fact that young women are taking to boxing is quite heartening and it goes without saying that there is a technique that will keep you fit and also protect yourself. Now that is a deal you cannot say no to.

Boxing workout plan example by Shantanu Singh:

  • Warmup:
    • 10 minutes jump rope
    • 20 squats
    • 20 pushups
    • 40 crunches
    • Shadow boxing:
    • 3-minute round: Basic jab, cross, and hook punches
    • Rest 30 seconds
    • x5
  • Heavy bag workout: Basic combinations
    • 3-minute round
    • Rest 30 seconds
    • x5

(If you are new to this kind of intensity, do three rounds, not five, and give yourself a minute rest between them. “Pace yourself”)

  • Finisher:
    • 20 pushups
    • 20 squats
    • 20 sit-ups
    • Rest as little as possible

This story appeared in the Feb-2018 issue of Smartlife magazine here:

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All pics in this post are courtesy Cult

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