Boxing classes are blowing up. With speciality studios and gyms popping up from coast to coast, people who had never considered boxing workouts before are now getting a chance to try them. But because most people don’t grow up learning to box the way they might with other sports — like running and cycling, for example — it can be a more challenging (and intimidating) activity for first-timers.
The good news is, knowing some key intel before you set foot in a boxing studio or gym can help ensure your first class goes smoothly, and that you actually enjoy the workout.
Here’s what boxing pros want you to know:
If you’re wondering how to prepare for your first class, being well-recovered from any other workout routine is a good idea, experts say. “I’d recommend staying properly hydrated, and if you’re on a strength-training regimen, I’d recommend taking the day off before so your muscles aren’t tight before you try a boxing workout,” says AJ Perez, trainer at Rumble Boxing in Los Angeles.
It’s always a good idea to rest before trying a tough new workout, but with boxing, there’s a very specific reason you want to bring your A game: “One of the toughest hurdles to get over as a beginner boxer is teaching your body to relax and be fluid with the technique,” Perez says. “It’s a lot harder to accomplish learning the proper form while your muscles are sore or tight.”
“Boxing is a head-to-toe sport,” notes Alberto Ortiz, founder of Work Train Fight. “People often think it is just arms and upper body, but you are using a ton of core and lower body as well.” On top of that, boxing classes are generally fast-paced, so you’ll be getting a great cardio workout too, he says.
In your first class, one of the best things to focus on is getting the boxing stance right. “A solid, balanced boxing stance will set you up for success in your boxing journey,” says Milan Costich, founder of Prevail Boxing. “Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a big step forward with your non-dominant foot. Point your toes to about 2 o’clock, sit your butt down a couple inches to relax into your stance and lift your back heel off the ground.” You’ll also want to engage your core, which will allow you to stay in control during quick punches. “You should feel like your weight is distributed equally on each leg, enabling you to move around quickly and easily,” he adds.
Getting overzealous can lead to injury when you don’t have the technique down, so keep things controlled when you’re getting started with boxing. “While punching, the two most important things to remember to avoid injury are to keep your wrists straight and to make contact with your two strongest knuckles — your index and middle fingers,” Costich says. “You might be hitting a punching bag that weighs twice as much as you, so we recommend starting out by punching softly and working your way up with power.”
“Boxing is challenging mentally and physically,” Ortiz says. Workouts often consist of various combinations of punches and other movements that need to be remembered throughout the class, and it’s not always easy to keep what you’re supposed to be doing (and in what order) straight. “Be ready to mess up, feel awkward and forget the combinations (a lot),” Ortiz says. “Don’t let it discourage you! Keep focused and keep trying!”
Your effort definitely won’t be wasted. “It’s completely normal not to get all of the technique down initially, but you can absolutely still get a great workout as long as you’re having fun learning,” Costich says. “Try to approach boxing with some humility; the expectation is not to be great after one class, but rather to take each boxing class as an opportunity to improve 1% in technique and push yourself 1% harder.”
And remember, the experience should be fun. “Try not to get frustrated when you mess up. Take a deep breath, shake it out and start again,” Ortiz suggests.
If you think boxing is something you could really get into, there are ways to speed up the process of getting your technique on point. “I highly recommend spending time in a private training session with a seasoned boxing coach or trainer,” Perez says.
That’s not your only option though. “If your budget is tight, there is a whole library of tips and tricks available online,” Perez points out. By searching something simple like “beginner boxing tips,” you’ll find tons of videos on how to advance your technique. “I learned a lot this way while I was a beginner boxer. The information is there if you really want it!”