3 Lessons I Wish I Knew Before I Started Boxing

When starting any new activity, there will be a teething process where you have to figure out the do’s and don’ts. For a dangerous job, like working on power-lines or working as an electrician, consequences can be fatal if you make a wrong move while learning the safe procedures. Luckily, when starting boxing classes, although the rules may not be written down anywhere, common sense will usually tell you whether you are doing the right thing or not.

Here are a few lessons for beginners on how to act in a boxing gym…some of these were learned the hard way!

1. Know your strength

When doing light contact drills training with a partner, or sparring (practice fighting), be sure to control the power of your punches.

Most people have absolutely no idea how hard they are hitting, so it is a good idea to be overly cautious of your power especially during drills that involve your partner blocking. The idea of a drill is to burn in a certain motion so that it becomes natural, and once this movement is committed to the body and mind, slowly increase the intensity to replicate a real fight scenario. If the power is too intense early into the learning process, the movement won’t be executed properly, and the participant will likely become flustered or frustrated making it even harder for them to learn the movement. The “sink or swim” in hard punches approach does not usually yield great results in terms of technique as it doesn’t allow them to burn in the correct motion, because they are simply reacting out of instinct.

You definitely don’t want to have the reputation for being the person in the gym that punches too hard, as this will make it very difficult for you to find training partners when it is time for partner drills, and sparring. Remember that the punches always feel harder when you are on the receiving end of them! A good rule of thumb to follow is taking your power to a level that you think is acceptable, then take another 20% power from that. Communication will solve the issue most of them time, by simply occasionally asking “How’s that, too hard? Or would you like me to go a little harder?”. Your partner will be grateful!

You must also take into account the size of you and your opponent. If for some reason you do find yourself paired with someone much smaller, or younger, be sure to be EXTRA careful while training. If you happen are the smaller person in the partnership, this doesn’t give you the permission to throw with as much power as you want. It can be frustrating being a bigger person training with a smaller person, seeing them trying to throw at 90% power, while trying to only deliver shots at 30% power.

It really comes down to using common sense and having RESPECT. Treat others how you expect to be treated.

2. Look after your personal hygiene

Spray on a fresh coat of deodorant under those armpits before class!

This one was learned the hard way! Not by me being smelly (at least I hope not…) but by training with another person that had a particular pungent body odour. We all know how hard it can be to stand near someone that has a B-O issue, but imagine being partnered up with someone for a lesson where you have to be in close quarters with them the whole time… now imagine that person being you! Save yourself the embarrassment and your partner the stinging nose by a quick application of deodorant before you start class. Many gym goers keep a can of deodorant in their training bag, and it’s the first thing to come out when they get to the gym.

Another aromatic issue, is people not taking care of their own equipment. Gloves that get thrown in the gym bag after a sweaty session and left for a few days can be a breeding ground for bacteria, and the foul odours that come along with it. Remember that your gloves are going near, or on, your partners face. A simple trick is to take them out of the bag and hang them when you get home, to let them air out. There are also some items on the market which allow you to put odour neutralisers in your gloves to stop them from stinking out your bag.

General cleanliness is a great idea to avoid the spread of a bacterial infection, such as staph or ringworm. Although boxing doesn’t have as big of an issue with staph as some other sports, like jiujitsu and wrestling, being a gym and an environment where people sweat, there can always be a slightly higher risk of the spread of staph infection. Our facility gets mopped with disinfectant 4 times per week, but basic hygiene practices can go a long way. In the unlikely event that you find a funny looking rash or abrasion on your body, its best to see a doctor and get it cleared up before returning to gym.

Although we wear boxing gloves most of the time at training, occasional there are some drills that are performed without the use of gloves. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep your nails trimmed for boxing training.

It’s also worth reminding people that the coffee they just had before training to get a little energy boost may be noticed by their partner while doing drills… by the smell of their breath! Boxing can be tough, and while you’re training it is likely that you will start to breath heavily. Just be mindful that you may be breathing that coffee breath on your partner!

3. Always try your hardest!

Nothing makes a trainer happier than someone giving 100 percent effort!

It’s not about the output (how hard/fast you punch), it’s about the input (how hard/fast you are TRYING to punch).This serves 2 purposes: the trainer will take notice and be far more likely to go above and beyond to give you the feedback, and also it helps you improve at a faster rate without the trainer’s guidance. Think of it like lifting weights. If you were to lift a light weight once per month where it didn’t challenge your body, you will never force your muscles to adapt and therefor get stronger, but if are putting in the effort and lift heavier weights on a regular basis, you will of course get stronger. This is the same for Boxing. If you are showing up to class occasionally, going through the motions without really trying hard enough to break a sweat, then going home again, you won’t find yourself professing very quickly, if at all. But, if you are showing up regularly, trying to perform the drills as best you can, you WILL progress! You may not notice it, but your trainer will!

Logan boxing gym

This is of course the same as all other areas of life. Consistency and effort will make you improve at whatever skill you choose to apply it to, INCLUDING putting in effort! If you practice being focussed in a boxing class, you will find it easier having focus in other areas of life as well. The act of exerting yourself becomes normal, whether it be in sport, business, or personal aspects of life like spending time with your family. This may be the most valuable lesson that you can take away from your training. Most people that start boxing lessons will never jump in the ring, but everyone can take the mindset and skills that a boxing training helps develop, such as determination and resilience, and turn that into part of their personality. Who doesn’t want to be more determined and resilient?

Common-sense really is they key when training with a partner.

Ask yourself, What would I think if someone else was doing this?” Asking that question will definitely help evaluate situations and tell you whether something is appropriate or not. At the end of the day, trainers are used to people not knowing the rules of a gym when they first start, so if you get told not to do something, it isn’t personal. Trainers understand that people don’t know all the rules and etiquette of a boxing gym when they first start training, so don’t feel bad if they make you aware they you’re doing something wrong.