Don’t let the word “boxing” intimidate you! This class focuses on practicing the motions of boxing without contact at your own pace.
Boxing might just be the perfect form of exercise for older adults. You might be questioning whether you just read that right as the mental image of older people throwing punches at one another seems inconceivable as the best exercise. This isn’t that. Boxing for exercise uses the techniques of boxing without contact. Participants go through the motions at their own pace in repetition. It’s a great cardio workout, but it’s so much more—it’s good for improving balance and brain health too! St. Louis Oasis’ new “Boxing for Exercise” class offers a new spin on traditional fitness regimens. Two partners work together face-to-face, studying movement and building trust that makes for an exceptionally socializing experience. Partakers foster a symbiotic connection that motivates continued class participation leading to long-term positive outcomes.
It might be obvious that boxing for exercise is a terrific cardio workout. What’s less obvious is that boxing classes are structured as ‘high intensity interval training’ or HIIT. That means that you work really hard for a period of time (in the case of boxing, a three-minute round), that is followed by a short break (one minute) before returning to the exercise. This format raises your heart rate quickly and has been shown to improve fitness, cardiovascular health, cholesterol profiles and insulin sensitivity, which helps stabilize blood glucose or sugar levels – of particular significance to diabetics. HIIT also reduces fat – both abdominal and the deep, visceral kind that engulfs your inner organs – while maintaining muscle mass or, in less active individuals, increasing it. This technique makes your cardio exercise more efficient and you get a ‘bigger bang for the buck.’
Boxing for exercise is good for balance in the same way that Tai Chi is good for balance. Your ‘boxing stance’ utilizes your center of gravity and places you in a position to shift your weight from front to back or side to side with ease. The power behind punches does not come from your arm. Your arm is simply an extension of your core powering your weight below the waist. You never want to be off balance as a boxer as it leaves you vulnerable if you are actually boxing. As you move around, you’re constantly readjusting your center of gravity and improving your balance through building muscle memory.
The toughest ‘sell’ about boxing as the perfect exercise may be that it’s good for your brain. When you think of a fighter getting their head repeatedly punched, brain health seems far-fetched. However, boxing includes the very tenants that create a strong brain health program: thinking and moving at the same time. You have to learn a new combination of punching motions every three minutes as the puncher and then you must practice the reverse combination as the mitt-holder. Some combinations are easier than others and there are countless combinations to learn at your own comfort of pace with six primary punches and defensive movements. Keeping your brain engaged while exercising is tremendously more beneficial for brain health than performing an exercise you don’t have to think about.
And finally, boxing is social! You may come alone and work with a partner in cohorts that meet twice every week for weeks, months and even years, and develop new friendships with the people in your class. Or you may come with a friend or family member and bond in a new way! A married couple were boxing together and the wife of the pair was overheard saying to her husband, “I haven’t seen you laugh this hard in years!” as they were boxing for exercise. Socializing is important for your health and makes exercising more fun and holds you accountable to your partner. That means you’re more likely to show up to class, which is how good habits form.
Boxing is a skillset you never master, but always improve. This keeps the practice interesting, intellectual, and engaging. You don’t have to spar to reap the myriad of benefits from boxing—box for exercise!
Erik’s class format for one-hour classes:
Warm-Up: 8 minutes
Partner 1 punches, Partner 2 holds mitts: boxes three 3-minute rounds with a break and instruction between (about 20 minutes).
Partners switch roles and Partner 2 punches, Partner 1 holds mitts: boxes three 3-minute rounds with a break and instruction between (about 20 minutes).
Abdominal exercises and cool down: 12 minutes