When I think of boxing, I imagine the middle of a ring, one light shining down from the center onto the mat. I think of the blackened eyes, the bloody noses and the shiny red gloves. I think of the boxers, shuffling around the ring, their hands up ready for combat, ready to defend.

I have never participated in such a rigorous contact sport before, unless you count co-ed youth basketball, where the refs used to let us beat up on each other. I have never trained as intensely as a boxer: running, jumping rope, punching bags, completing relentless drills all to prepare myself physically and mentally for competition. My experience training for sports has always been more about developing a skill rather than developing my body – throwing a ball, making contact with a bat, shooting a free throw. This was one of the reasons I decided to try out the boxing class offered at Healthworks. I wanted to test my body and train it solely for the sake of defending itself.

I started by taking the Intro to Boxing class. This is a requirement for every new boxing participant at Healthworks. It’s a time to meet the instructor and learn the basics of boxing and what to expect in an hour-long class.

In the class I joined, I found myself in league with two other beginners, Jenny and Aleks. Each of us had had our own experience throwing a punch in an aerobics class but no one had actually trained before. Jenny and Aleks were both hesitant, but they agreed that if they survived the Intro session, they would do their best to stick out the actual hour-long workout.

We started by learning to wrap our hands. Teanna B. (from Punk Rope!) was our instructor and she gave a demonstration of how to wrap our hands, first placing our hand through the hook, then around the wrist and then the palm and then over each crease between fingers, around the palm again a few times and then finish off around the wrist and fastening the velcro.

When both hands were wrapped, we put on our gloves and got into our boxing stance. Facing a wall of mirrors, Teanna instructed us to use our heads as our own targets (take that, Kate!). With my body perpendicular to the mirrors, I took a step forward to put myself in the correct and more comfortable stance. The position was foreign at first, but as we started shuffling around I realized this position was easiest for me to get a full range of motion and increase my power.

Then we learned the 5 punches:

  1. Left handed jab
  2. Right handed cross
  3. Left handed hook
  4. Right upper cut
  5. Left uppercutIMG_5163

Note: Once you have trained with Teanna B., you can join the Facebook group “Teanna’s Boxers” and see videos for wrapping your hands, throwing punches, etc.

Once we were comfortable with the punches, Teanna came around and we each took turns punching at focus pads (see Aleks and Teanna demonstrating below). We’d receive an order of punches, “1-2-3-2,” and we practiced what we had learned.

After getting warm, Teanna debriefed us on the exercises to be completed in the actual class, the first step at throwing a real punch the right way– and being a boxer. More on that to come.