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Feeling Strong Now: Boxing For Fitness

Feeling Strong Now: Boxing For Fitness, boxing at 50, boxing in middle age
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BY KITT WALSH

You don’t pass more than five decades on this planet without wanting to punch somebody. Well, now is your chance and it will help you get fit, too.

Boxing, once the province of guys named Ali and Graziano, has broken out of dark warehouses equipped with a run-down rings and made its way into upscale fitness centers. Its proponents are both women and men—many of them Boomers like you. The secret is out: A vigorous boxing session can burn 800-1000 calories; give you a trim, lightly muscled body; helps your endurance, balance and agility as well as your strength, keeps your mind sharp, and is flat out fun.

Check your own fitness center to see if classes are offered. You don’t really have to even hit anybody. Lots of classes are non-contact meaning you are punching a bag, not a body. You’ll get the same cardio-vascular benefit.

One type of boxing is called “Cardio” and mixes up punches, jabs, defensive moves and kicks into a high-energy aerobics workout concentrating on helping you discover your power (something it is never too late to learn.) You can punch only the air, work with a heavy bag or, in some classes, train with a partner who has baseball mitt-like pads on his or her hands.

Tae Bo is another type of boxing to consider. (Tae means “foot or leg” in Korean and Bo is short for boxing. Mix these in with dance moves and you’ve got Tae Bo.) In 1998, one of the most famous instructors in the sport, Billy Banks, put on the Rocky theme to workout in his basement. He started shaking his booty to the tune and realized how much extra energy the dance music gave him. Tae Bo was born. Classes are held everywhere.

Check with your doctor first as some of these can be a bit hard on your knees, but here’s a few exercises to get your ready to jump into the ring and give boxing a try:

(For all of these drills, stretch gently first then work hard for two minutes and rest for 30 seconds. Remember to hydrate during your down time. Set your cell phone alarm and don’t overtax your muscles.)

Knees up: Standing straight, arms above your head, bring one knee up to your waist, then up to your chest. Repeat with other knee. At 1:30 seconds, punch the air above your head and speed up your knee action.

Grab a ball: Medicine balls (available at any sports equipment store) come in different weights. Buy a 5 lb. one if your are new to this. With your back against a wall and your knees slightly bent, hold the ball straight out in from of you. Twist to the left and tap the wall with the ball. Repeat to the right.

Be a frog: Standing with your feet facing straight out from your shoulders, drop down into a squat and jump right back up—at least a foot from the ground (swing your arms out if you need help.) Be careful not to lean forward.

Jump rope: Yes, boxers really do this. Keep your elbows close to your sides and your knees slightly bent and then, just like in elementary school, let your wrists rotate the rope and start skipping.

If you practice these exercises consistently, you will be ready to learn the bobbing and weaving, proper punch technique and fancy footwork that will have you dancing like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

Whichever type of boxing you try, you will gain strength, balance and agility, tone your legs and arms while strengthening your core (vital as you get older) and, though you may never have the urge to run up all those Philadelphia steps, you may start feeling a little like a bad-ass (and that is a good thing.)

 

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