Get fit by boxing
It’s a total body workout, no matter what shape you’re in.
Boxing became a total passion for Loraine Hilton the minute she thumped her first punchbag. “I was out of shape, but it was an instant take with me. I loved it,” she says. Now, after two years of working out three times a week, which includes rounds with a punchbag and speed bag and light sparing in the ring, the 50 plus women is in the best shape of her life, 23kg lighter and brimming with energy. Hilton has discovered a secret: the boxing gym is a great place for a total body workout, no matter your age or level of fitness.
Dr Ken Trinh, a physician for Canada’s boxing team at the 2004 Olympic Games, says boxing is a great cardiovascular, range-of-motion and muscle-toning exercise. “It may also help to improve your proprioception (position sense) and prevent falls,” he says. And because boxing requires concentration and focus it may also improve memory.
Bryon Mackie, former Canadian welterweight and middleweight champion and owner of Big Thyme Fitness in Ontario, where Hilton trains, says boxing is an excellent way to reduce stress.
Older participants have to get over the idea that boxing is only for the young. Hilton wasn’t sure she’d feel comfortable the first time she went to the gym, but she soon discovered that nobody cared how old she was. Everyone shared the facilities at the club, from 12-year olds taking their first lesson to young men training for pro careers to women like her looking for an invigorating workout. Mackie works hard to make his club accessible to everyone. To help Hilton overcome her self-consciousness about her age, he got her sparring with older boxers. “Byron doesn’t mind asking a young kid to get in the ring with me,” she says. The kids are happy to oblige.
Mackie also caters to clients who have physical limitations such as weak or injured knees. If a person is unable to run or skip, he will focus the work-out on her upper body and use low impact exercises on the lower joints, allowing them to strengthen safely.
Anyone new to boxing, no matter what age, wants to know whether the eventual goal is to get in the ring and fight – and possibly get hurt.
“That is a misconception,” says Johnny Kalbhenn. After winning many amateur and professional championships and representing Canada in the 1984 Olympics, Kalbhenn now coaches at the Cabbagetown Boxing Club in Toronto. “You’re not going to learn controlled hits with an instructor. Organised fights are only an option,” he says.
Of course, if you want to mix it up in the ring, you can. Jim Dimitrovski, 51, fought his first fight 11 years ago. “I wanted to see how good I was,” he says. “Nobody got hurt, and I had a good time.” Trinh confirms that any participant who wants to move beyond sparring can do so – with the right precautions. “Boxing is the most medically supervised sport,” he says. “With proper training and equipment, injuries can be minimised.”
Dimitrovski now spends two hours a night, three times a week, at Motor City Boxing Club and has added to his training by undertaking five amateur fights.
He doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon – he credits boxing with giving him more energy, improving his general health and making him more flexible. “I used to take vitamins, but now I’m very energetic,” he says. “I don’t get sick or get colds. I used to have a stiff neck, but not anymore. The older I get, the more I get hooked on the sport. If I had time, id go every night of the week.”
There are plenty of boxing classes on offer if you want a boxing workout without actually gloving up and jumping in the ring. Most gyms have aerobics-style boxing classes and there are also a handful of clubs that specialise in combat sports, including other boxing styles like Muay Thai and kickboxing.
WHERE TO GO
Here’s two local boxing clubs, here in the shire, with loads of expert first-hand experience to help you along the way.
1. EAGLE FITNESS (with Lauryn Eagle)
2. SOUTHSIDE BOXING GYM (with husband & wife team, Ryan and Cheri Waters)
Or go to www.boxing.org.au and get in touch with your state office for a list of boxing clubs in your area.