“It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.” Muhammad Ali
For the past nine months (give or take) I have been a member of a new gym only seven minutes from my house. It is called “Grit Box Fitness” and I am so glad I was introduced to it. I have a dear friend who is a member and talked me into going to a free boxing class. Over the years I have been to many gyms and tried lots of exercise classes and have worked out with trainers weight lifting but I never was in a gym where there were classes using a punching bag. There is nothing cute or chic or sexy about this space. On the contrary, to me it looked quite intimidating. But being always up for trying something new I was all in! For 45 minutes I worked out as hard as I could. Did I have a few doubts that I would not make it to the end of the class? Did that little voice in my head telling me I am NUTS being MY AGE and working out with KIDS who could be my kids? Of course. Did that stop me? NO!!! When I am “all in” I am ALL IN. After the class I was a sweaty, happy mess. I felt great. So I joined and have been loving those evenings when I can kick and punch the crap out of that black bag.
I love yoga. I love that I can refocus myself, breathe, meditate for an hour and leave knowing I have done something good and healthy for myself. It is a purge in a way. Well this boxing thing is just like my yoga practice except the music is a lot louder and not a calming, the teacher is yelling and not speaking in gentle tones, the lights are brighter and there is grunting (well there is grunting in yoga too I suppose!). It is the best pairing of physical activities for me anyway. On Saturday mornings I have been attending my yoga class and go straight to my gym for boxing. My boxing on Saturday mornings somehow feels different and by the time I get home at noon I feel GREAT!
So I thought I would share with you some of the things I have learned about the benefits of this kicking and punching thing that I do.
The heavy bag is a stuffed bag made of leather or vinyl, which weighs between 40 and 100 pounds, and is used primarily among boxers for building punching power and improving boxing technique. Hitting the heavy bag is physically demanding and a true test of strength and stamina. For a relatively simple piece of equipment, it delivers many amazing benefits.
- Improves Aerobic Fitness – Training on the heavy bag at the right intensity, will greatly tax the cardio respiratory system. The mere act of moving around a bag, while changing body position, equates to an aerobic (utilizing oxygen at a lower intensity) workout.
- Improve Power – The heavy bag was actually designed for boxers to enhance their punching power. It allows for the perfect opportunity to focus on using as many muscles as possible, to ensure a punch is thrown with perfect technique, and with the greatest possible force – the bag never hits back. Main muscles worked on the heavy bag include the shoulders, arms, back, chest and waist. Legs are also used in the process of punching the bag, to generate power through the upper body. Straight punches, such as the right cross and jab, will help develop power through the shoulders and chest, while uppercuts and hooks will utilize the back and arms to a greater extent.
- Improve Core Stability and Coordination – Circling the heavy bag and throwing off combinations of punches will help with coordination. Keeping on the toes, and transferring weight from one foot to the other, to throw a specific punch, will help develop core stability, and, as a result, overall body coordination. Boxers move with grace!
- Develop Self Defense Skills – The bag cannot retaliate, therefore making it a great way in which to perfect self defense technique. Visualize the bag as an opponent (or someone you would love to take a swing at) and hit as if being hit.
- Improve Body Shape – I have personally witnessed an improvement in terms of shoulder, biceps and back detail, as a result of heavy bag training. Although hitting the heavy bag does not equate to a pure bodybuilding workout – as would weight-training – it does provide an excellent way in which to add detail and strip body-fat. I have even gone back to do some weight training!
- Decrease Stress – My favorite. Hitting the heavy bag is one way to dissolve negative stress. Although any form of exercise has special stress-countering qualities, boxing is probably unique in that it is a physically exhausting, aggressive, activity, which demands total concentration while allowing one to literally strike-out at an inanimate object.
So go find a good gym that has a bag, find a good trainer and enjoy!!!