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Punch Your Way to Improved Mental and Physical Health

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April 2024 Cover Story

Boxing, specifically women’s boxing, has become extremely trendy, whether it be in the fitness space, amateur, or professional world.

Interest in boxing gyms and classes has increased alongside the increased demand for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes that have gained popularity due to the efficiencies of these types of workouts. Boxing can be considered the original HIIT class because of the intensity and full body workout you get in 20 minutes or less. For those of us with busy schedules and barely enough time to complete our daily tasks, boxing can be the solution to achieving a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle without spending hours at the gym.

Why Boxing?

Boxing provides the ultimate workout for both your physical and mental health. And it’s an inclusive sport all women can participate in—boxing offers weight classes from the minimum weight of 105 pounds to over 200 pounds.

Now, let’s get into the physical benefits. Boxing provides a full body workout from head to toe with punches, footwork, and defensive drills. It can help improve your heart health and endurance through cardiovascular burnouts on a heavy bag or hand pads. Boxing also provides strength training from rotating, pivoting, and full body engagement (including upper body, lower body, and core) with every punch and defensive move. Shifting weight within your punches and focusing on footwork also develops balance and a better understanding of your body.

Strength Building

Lots of women are intimidated by weight lifting, so boxing can be a great alternative to help strengthen your muscles using just your own bodyweight.

Building strength with weights can take time. Slowly increasing the weight of your lifts in the gym can take weeks, if not months. Boxing can help women feel strong regardless of where they are in their fitness journey. Boxing can help you experience the strength of your body in as quickly as one class!

Mental Health Benefits

For me, boxing’s mental benefits are even better than the physical. I have OCD (some of my subtypes include germs & contamination) and anxiety. Boxing has become an alternative form of therapy to deal with both, which led me to join Girls Just Wanna Box and become a coach—to pass on the benefits of boxing to other girls and women to help improve their lives like it has mine!

I started boxing in 2012 and quickly realized that the focus and attention the sport demanded caused my OCD and anxious thoughts to dissipate. Whether it’s a punch, a punch combination, footwork, defense, or all of the above, there’s no time to worry about anything other than the task at hand—boxing. Boxing requires presence of mind and can lead to an increased level of focus, attention to detail, and hand-eye coordination. Each of these benefits (as well as the many others of boxing) can also positively impact your work life and personal life—win-win. In addition, learning anything new, but especially something as empowering as boxing, can also lead to a boost in self-confidence.

Boost Self-Confidence

The first thing I start with in my classes is stance; nothing is more powerful than leading with this—imagine Wonder Woman or Storm. Self-confidence is not something you can buy, but something that develops with practice and time. Pushing outside of your comfort zone and doing something that you never thought was possible can help increase your confidence.

Aspects of social media and widespread unrealistic expectations of how women should look, dress, and feel has caused self-confidence issues for many girls and women. Recognizing the strength your body possesses, proving you can do the hard things, and allowing yourself time to recharge can really help elevate your self-confidence. Boxing is also a great way to relieve stress! Nothing can be more cathartic than putting your full energy and force into a combination on a heavy bag.

A Sport For All Ages

It’s important to keep moving as we age, and boxing can be a great way to stay active as we grow older.

As we age, our bones shrink, it gets harder to build muscle, and our memory starts to decline. Boxing can be your answer to a healthy body and brain. There are the cognitive benefits of boxing: the focus required to execute a move, the memory skills to recall combinations, problem-solving skills in defensive positions, and breathwork; and there are the physical benefits of boxing: heart health, strength building, and improved stamina. The combination of cognitive and physical benefits makes boxing an optimal choice.

So, what are you waiting for?! Find a local boxing gym near you, wrap those hands, and start punching your way to better mental and physical health!

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