"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." Muhammad Ali
Women's boxing is an art, at least as much as age-old Karate or Jui Jitsu. This discipline is distinguishable from men's boxing and has specificities of its own. From its history through to its techniques and current practice, here are all the secret's of women's boxing, a discipline of the mind, body and spirit!
England Boxing, the national governing body for boxing, has seen a significant increase in the feminization of boxing following a new craze for the discipline. Beginning in 2008, after the movie Million Dollar Baby was released and since then, with the inclusion of women's boxing in the Olympics in 2012, registered female boxers in the UK has jumped from 900 in 2009 to 35,000 in 2017! Women now make up 21% of England Boxing's participation overall.
Women's Boxing: Stay in Shape and Lose Weight
Coming from the practices of pankration and pugilism, dating from many centuries ago, boxing is an ancient sport that is a part of martial arts, just like aikido, judo or taekwondo. A boxer must have full control of his gestures (his foot, leg, arm, fist), to perform precise and effective movements.
It's not enough to just hit in boxing, you must always have a goal in mind.
Given that intense effort is needed in women's boxing training, boxing for weight loss can also be considered a goal. Why? Simply because, even if you are a beginner, boxing enables you to add muscles very quickly, thanks to strength training exercises, including weight lighting. Better than Pilates, Zumba or going to the gym, boxing allows you to lose weight quickly, but also to lose weight in a sustainable way. With muscle and strength building, you gain flexibility, ab exercises allow you to be more resistant to the punch of your partner, stretching helps you to improve your punch. With three sports activities mixed into one, it's worth an hour or two in the ring to sculpt one's body, right?
In truth, boxing has many virtues:
- General fitness
- To sculpt a dream body
- Lose inches in your arms, legs and hips
- Improve your cardio
With some variations, you can focus on a training program adapted to weight loss, with for example Sweatbox which, as the name suggests, will make you sweat!
More than helping you shed unwanted pounds, boxing will help you get in shape: between warming up, stretching, free fighting or training on punch bags, your body is quickly subjected to intense activity!
Practising boxing to lose weight is like everything else: it's all just a matter of mind over matter! This is something that every dojo master might tell you.
Discover How Female Boxing is Different from Male Boxing
Between strategy, tactics and aggression, you will probably be wondering what distinguishes women's boxing from men's boxing. This is normal because men's boxing is more often shown in the media than women's boxing: it is easier to name a men's world champion than a professional female boxer. This is why it is important to know the advantages of practising women's boxing, especially as compared to men's boxing. Sports disciplines that are similar, but have different histories and goals.
If boxing is considered a combat sport, it's for a good reason: apart from a few variants that can be practised with bare hands, most are done with specific boxing equipment for men and women. We find, for example, the following unavoidable components:
- Boxing gloves
- Mouth protector
- Boxing shoes
- Shin pads
- Boxing shorts
- Boxing helmet
- Jock strap (for men of course)
- Equipment: punching bag, punching ball, skipping rope
Practitioners are predominantly male (79% of those registered in England Boxing), but it also depends on the type of boxing. Women's boxing and boxing men each have their particularities.
Men can be very competitive, one might think of famous boxers such as Floyd Mayweather or Mike Tyson, heavyweights who go full-out on their opponent. Kung fu, kickboxing, UFC- many men seem to prefer intense contact sports. Or is it the challenge they crave?
For these types of sports, an intense physical preparation is necessary: weightlifting, bodybuilding, diet; every aspect of the athlete's life is tackled in order to become the best among the competitors.
Women can also be very competitive: such as with the UK champions Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams who won gold in boxing at the London Summer Olympics in 2012. This was the first ever Olympic medals awarded to women for boxing and two of the three gold medalists were from the UK!
However, for most women, 80% say they prefer to practice educational boxing or boxing training, that is to say, focusing on other aspects, such as fitness, self-defence or getting into shape.
For many male boxers, the end goal is to be victorious in the ring whereas, for women, the victory often lies elsewhere: from shedding unwanted inches, toning, refining, becoming more dynamic and flexible, but, of course, these are also beautiful victories, obtained in the ring!
Instead of searching the Internet for boxing classes near me, why not check out Superprof's boxing coaches?
Know the Different Types of Boxing for Women
Being more rhythmic, athletic or gymnastic, it is difficult to know which boxing to choose when facing the wide choice of traditional boxing options and variations. Women will often hesitate between combat boxing and fitness boxing, the first emphasizing technique and strength, the second, rather on overall goals of health and well-being.
Among traditional boxing rings, women remain a minority, but this does not stop them from practising:
- French boxing
- French savate style boxing
- British boxing
- Thai boxing
- American boxing or full contact
- Chinese boxing
There is a variant to full contact, called light contact, which focuses more on global play tactics and not on the effectiveness of hits. To vary it up and progress quickly, or for improvement, if you do boxing competition, some boxing variations may interest you:
- Muay thai
- Jui jitsu
- Krav Maga
They each focus on one part of the body, or have a specific goal. Self-defence courses are very popular in larger cities: they are self-mastery disciplines, where you learn to defend yourself against an aggressor.
Other boxing variants are dedicated exclusively to female participants. They sometimes help you to gain in endurance, by working on raising your heart rate, sometimes in flexibility, thanks to an improvement in footwork. Among the most trendy disciplines, we find:
- Cardio boxing, focusing on building physical stamina and fitness
- Boxing gym classes, to work on abs and glutes
- Ladies only boxing, offering a women-only practice
- Boxercise and Boxfit, halfway between boxing and fitness (look up for boxercise classes near me)
- Ladies only self-defence, where mental and physical conditioning are equal halves of the discipline.
Give your chosen class a trial run before you commit, because once inside, your coaches will be focused on only one goal: to help you perfect and improve.
Boxing Classes Created and Adapted for Women
Faced with all these variations, you may already want to take a women's boxing class near you. For that, you still need to know where to go, and where to fit in an organised boxing class. Luckily, because of the diversity of boxing clubs and courses for women, you can practice your discipline in many places:
- Boxing club
- Sports association/centre
- Boxing gym
- Boxing/sports hall
- Municipal gymnasium
These days, practising in person and in groups are not the only ways to practice boxing. In fact, you can find women's boxing classes online. For online courses, it's easy to subscribe (and often free):
- Courses on DVD's
- Course on Youtube (channels)
- Specialized websites of former champions
- You may even want to work with a boxing coach online!
These courses may also include physical training, perfecting boxing sequences, or how to master the glove-to-glove combat between athletes. It is not uncommon for a former champion of the UK to become a coach, to give group lessons or private lessons, on the Internet or in-home.
Finally, you can also look for a boxing coach through platforms like Superprof, which allows you to find a teacher near you: if you find yourself getting tired of over-crowded boxing classes, an in-home personal trainer is the solution.
They could be an independent instructor, sometimes a personal trainer or a former boxing champion, who will come to your private or group boxing lessons. Being coached individually offers the advantage of a personalized approach, and enables rapid progression!
Now, to get your prepared for your first boxing lesson, we've prepared answers to some of the more frequent questions novice boxers always ask.
How does Boxing Tone Your Body?
As opposed to many workout regimens, those that focus on one or only a few aspects of fitness, boxing involves virtually all muscle groups including the most important muscle of all: your heart.
I use kettlebells and dumbbells in my workout and I thought my workout targeted all of the muscle groups!
Unfortunately, that is not necessarily so. Let’s take a close look at workouts involving weights.
Those do involve several muscle groups: abs, legs, glutes, arms and your back muscles (at least, they should!). The trouble is that most of them work specific muscle groups in turn; seldom do they work your entire body at once.
It is quite common to hear a personal trainer ask a new client: “What do you want to work on first?”. You may have even overheard someone at your gym say: “I need to work on my arms (my legs, my buns, etc.).
Another point to consider: even though your heart rate rises a bit as you do your reps, it doesn’t necessarily get into the toning, fat-burning realm of cardio.
I switch up between cardio routines every few weeks: some involve more leg work and others stress upper body muscle groups. Isn’t that a good thing?
The answer to that is concentric.
You might start off with ‘you’re working out: great!’, go one layer deeper by exclaiming: ‘raising your heart rate is a good start to toning up.’. And alternating your workout, albeit without too much time between alternations, is also a good idea.
But then, we end up with the same situation as before: you work some muscle groups more intensively than others.
Well, I swim: that works arms and legs as well as my heart!
Indeed, swimming is an excellent, low-impact way to tone up. Low-impact?
When you swim, the effect of water on your body is twofold. First, it acts as an insulator shielding you from the impacts and stresses of a non-waterborne workout. It is a fact that you cannot move briskly or violently in water because you are constantly fighting against its weight and pressure on you.
You can, of course, cut through the water and glide on/in it.
It is the pressure and weight of the water that forms resistance to virtually every movement you make that makes swimming a type of mild resistance training. However, it is not truly resistant because the surface tension of water permits you to glide through it rather than work against it.
By its very nature, resistance training stresses body tissues: joints, bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Those stresses are minimised by the water.
A feature that makes resistance training so effective in toning muscles is called progressive overload. As the body gets used to the weight it is working against, one adds progressively more weight to challenge those muscles anew.
You might argue that, once you get used to swimming 40 laps, you could simply increase the number of times you swim back and forth across the pool but that would be like comparing barbells to dumbbells.
Increasing the number of reps a resistance trainer does is not equal to the amount of weight s/he lifts with each rep.
Because you continue to work against the same level of resistance, increasing the number of laps you swim would be the same as a weight lifter lifting the same weight more often. Of course, you would end up fatigued but not necessarily more toned because your muscles have plateau'ed; they will need greater resistance to continue to develop.
How does boxing provide resistance training?
Because boxer training is so varied, boxers meet resistance in just about every facet of their training!
Skipping rope impacts lower extremity muscles, joints and other tissues. Isometric and isotonic exercises such as pushups and planking work the body against itself.
Working any of the bags – speed bag, double-end bag or the heavy bag impacts upper body tissues. Naturally, bag work involves footwork too; here again, the lower body gets conditioning treatment.
Boxers also train with weights – although, for them, the same holds true as with anyone else lifting weights: they are only working specific muscle groups at a time.
Sparring works the entire body including your heart and, yes, even your brain! Sparring is a mock-fight; a training exercise wherein two similarly-classed boxers take each other on in the ring.
Through strategy, speed; strength and skill, boxers inevitably undergo a total body conditioning that other workouts, taken singly, would be hard-pressed to equal!
What Are the Benefits of Boxing?
Listing the many ways that boxing can be beneficial risks being a long article indeed, so let’s break the benefits you could reap into categories, highlighting those main features. We’ll start with the easiest one.
Physical Benefits of Boxing
In its purest form, boxing is an equal-opportunity workout: by the time you complete a training session, you will have worked every muscle group and your heart.
Next, add sub-specialities of boxing: kickboxing, Muay Thai, Savate (a French style of boxing involving kicks as well as punches) and even mixed martial arts fighting and you have a physical activity that calls for both strength and endurance.
Naturally, one must be at one’s peak athletic conditioning to compete in these sports!
Mental Benefits of Boxing
In the ring, you cannot afford distractions; any loss of focus might result in your opponent landing a knockout blow.
Boxers are unusually focused athletes; their fierce concentration – on their opponent, on their strategy and on their own self-preservation serves not just to win the match but to keep them from serious injury.
So, if you wanted to improve your ability to not be swayed by distractions, to strategise and, yes, even to improve your agility and hand-eye coordination, you should consider taking up boxing!
Psychological Benefits of Boxing
Have you had a bad day at work? Has your partner decided to not partner with you any more? Do you simply have a lot of stress in your life that you need to work out?
Could you suggest a better way to relieve stress and anger than by repeatedly pummelling a heavy bag?
Could anyone find a more exacting means of ridding oneself of negative energy than by channelling it through a measured, rhythmic activity such as jumping rope or working a speed bag?
Besides the considerable benefits brought by boxing, you can improve your mental and psychological conditioning by engaging in this all-encompassing physical activity!
Is Boxing Really a Good Way to Lose Weight?
The short answer is... no. Why?
Because as you work your body, you will indeed lose inches and fat but, in return, you will gain muscle mass – and everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat!
Besides, boxing to lose weight is really the wrong question. Or, more specifically, too limited a question.
One should really ask if boxing would make you more fit, toned and mentally prepared for the challenges in and outside the ring.
Were you to ask that question, the answer would be a resounding ‘YES’!
Consider the physical evolution of someone learning how to box. She would first have to build strength and stamina, meaning that she would change her eating habits, her workouts and even her state of mind to those of an athlete.
And then, she would undergo changes in her thinking: critically analysing her opponents’ strategies and calculating strategies of her own to compensate for challenger’s strengths and overcome her weaknesses.
Once the new thought patterns have been established, all of this happens lightning-fast while she’s engaged in the fight but, best of all, these skills carry over into every aspect of her life.
Furthermore, as this all-inclusive development occurs, she would find a change in her emotional state.
Would you like to feel the confidence a fighter embodies? Seize it and make it your own?
In general, boxers are possessed of an enviable sureness, in and out of the ring.
It comes from knowing they are in their best shape ever, that they have the strength and fortitude to see any situation through be it physical or intellectual, and that all of these desirable qualities are a direct result of their hard work; work they will happily continue to do!
They have the privilege of bonding and working with other individuals who have the same outlook on life and on their sport; an inclusive activity that, by necessity, is an all-in proposition.
What does that mean?
If you want to box to lose weight... that’s a good goal but you’re not thinking far enough.
If you want to box, you should prepare to become toned, fit and well-nigh indomitable. You should gear yourself up for changes in your frames of mind and in your psyche; in how you think and even on your perspective of life.
You should be prepared for the inclusion and solidarity you will find at any boxing club and be willing and ready to reciprocate that positive energy with your fellow boxers.
On the other hand, if you want to lose weight...
Head on over to your nearest boxing club. Talk with the coaches; slip on those gloves and give the sport a try. You may find that boxing gives you so much more than you could have hoped for!
Whether it is to tone up, gain self-confidence or simply because you like contact sports, women's boxing can be practised at any time, anywhere, and for all purposes!
I'll be waiting for you in the ring, no excuses!