About six months ago a 50+ friend of mine in London started sharing posts on Facebook about her boxing class. I was surprised. Why would an elegant Italian expert on the poetry of Dante want to partake in pugilism? Did she fancy herself as the Venetian version of Jake LaMotta or Rocky Balboa? Thankfully no, she started classes because it made her feel empowered and fit. And, it seems that boxing classes are attracting a growing number of older females. So, what’s the appeal of putting the gloves on and not pulling your punches?
Boxing goes against the grain of everything that girls are taught to be when growing up. We’re not supposed to hit and physically harm others; it’s just not ladylike. Then again, as my friend pointed out to me, taking up boxing as a form of exercise doesn’t mean that a woman is suddenly going to walk out of a session and turn into a street fighter. It’s fun dancing around a punch bag and jabbing at it, working up a sweat and burning off calories while releasing tension through the pleasure of punching the bag, she told me.
Fitness boxing (boxercise)
This new exercise regime is more correctly known as ‘fitness’ or ‘non-contact’ boxing and, ladies, that means you never have to spar with another person. It’s just you and the punch bag, or a trainer wearing resistance mitts, having a fab cardio workout session. Having just watched the movie Creed, which sees Rocky Balboa come out of retirement to train a young fighter, and having enjoyed Million Dollar Baby with Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood many years ago, it is clear that a boxer’s training regime really does get you in tip-top shape. I doubt even my younger self could have skipped as fast as they do. But, apart from a cardio workout, what other benefits are there from a fitness boxing class for women over 50?
Physical fitness for over 50s
We all know that as we age it’s harder to maintain muscle strength and definition. Boxing can go a long way to sort that out and in a way that is far less monotonous than doing weights. Boxing teaches you that power is centred in the hips and from that central point, the hands, arms, legs, shoulders and hips work in unison to exercise all your muscles. From the moment you start a session of throwing punches, your heart pumps faster and your breathing is heavier, plus you build stamina, ramp up your metabolism and burn off over 500 calories per hour. Over weeks of practise, boxing reverses the deterioration in lean muscles and builds it up, plus it helps maintain hand-eye co-ordination at more youthful levels. In short, it offers women a complete cardio and resistance exercise routine that is actually fun. At least, that’s why the majority of women who go to boxercise give as the reason that they keep going back for more.
We are constantly reminded as we age that we need to keep ourselves mentally fit. Usually, it’s recommended that we do crosswords, Sudoku or learn a new language. However, when you participate in fitness boxing, this mental stimulation is a part of the package. For a start, boxing forces women to break through the barrier of our cultural norms about women, which can then alter our perceptions of other ideas we’ve never questioned. It also requires total concentration and the need to employ strategy in order to land those punches in the right place, which stimulates the brain in new ways. Keeping up with the rhythm and co-ordination needed for boxing is a way of tuning up your overall mental agility as well.
Finding moments of stillness
It may seem a contradiction, but boxing has the ability to take you into a meditative state. Because it requires absolute focus, boxing can help you find the stillness within that meditation teachers talk about. As one female fan of fitness boxing explained, “If my mind is rushing through a to-do list, my coordination is off and I trip up.” It’s also an excellent way to calm your mind, especially for those who lead stressful lives.
If you’re interested in joining a class, search for fitness boxing classes—sometimes called Ladies Boxercise—in your local area. It’s time to put the gloves on ladies; personally, I rather like the pink ones.