#FitnessFriday: Boxing as Therapy

We all have stresses in our lives, and we’re all looking to take them out in a healthy way. I might be the president of “let’s find a healthy stress outlet via exercise” club. Sometimes a heart-pounding run through the park does it for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. A great yoga class can calm me down after a rough day, but there are times when — as nonviolent as I am — I just want to hit something.

Have you ever felt that way? Things get so aggravating that you wish a heavy punching bag would appear and descend from the ceiling so you could just let loose on it? This vision has come up in my mind more than once, hence my draw to the gyms filled with gloves and Everlast bags suspended from the ceiling.

Something I appreciated about boxing was how similar it is to choreography. The coach calls out numbers to indicate which punches you throw, similarly to how a choreographer or dance teacher calls out eight counts to guide you through a dance. There are moves, and there’s a right way and a wrong way to do each —  form is everything. Posture is important and muscle memory plays a huge roll. Even the footwork felt like a dance, especially with partner-work, stepping and pivoting in sync. It’s this need to concentrate on the numbers and hand positions that helps with depression and anxiety. By focusing the mind and body so intensely on your coach’s movements and reacting accordingly, you end up being present in the moment and forgetting all the ruminating thoughts or worries.

Due to the intense nature of the sport and exercise, learning proper form is so incredibly important for preventing injury. How often have you gone to a new, dynamic class, without knowing proper form, and hurt yourself? And when was the last time a workout required you to take a beginner class and learn the right form before you jumped into group fitness?

In addition to being really excellent cardio training, boxing gave me soreness in places I don’t usually feel post-workout. Keeping your core firm and your posture centered and squatted works the abs and butt, while quick hops and jumping works the legs, and the punches (naturally) work the arms, core, back — even legs, as you’re powering some of these throws through your feet and hips.

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