Four-time world champion boxer Jaime Clampitt calls out the four basic boxing punches, nodding encouragement as I swing my way through the air. When she turns her back to me to demonstrate the moves, it’s easy to see how she got the nickname — “The Hurricane” — during her 20-year boxing career.
Once my basic technique was passable, Clampitt handed me a pair of pink weighted gloves (available as part of Empower’s Boxing Boot Camp product, which hits stores in October), and it was time for the real workout. “Fast, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast,” hollered Clampitt. “Can’t you see what a great workout this is?” All I could manage was a nod, as my arms began to feel the burn.
“It’s been said that boxers are the best-trained athletes, which I completely believe,” Clampitt said the next day, after I had a chance to recover. “A lot of workouts are a little bit one-dimensional, but with boxing you can really work on every aspect of your fitness level. You gain a lot of strength and speed, which is great for toning and weight loss, and you’re also getting an anaerobic and aerobic workout.”
The Thrills — and Risks — of Throwing Punches
If you’re not ready to punch a person (and get punched back), Clampitt and Dena Paolino, the president of the all-women boxing gym Striking Beauties in North Attleboro, Mass., have a workout for you. Together, they created a fast-and-furious boxing DVD that will help women master the basics of boxing and torch some serious calories. With or without a punching bag, Clampitt says the strength that comes with any type of boxing can be empowering for women. “After training in boxing, you’re a different, more confident person,” she says.
But like all sports, boxing comes with its own set of risks. The most famous fighter of all time, Muhammad Ali, now lives with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that some scientists believe is linked to boxing-caused brain damage. His daughter, retired pro boxer Laila Ali, has said that she wouldn’t encourage anyone to take up the sport. “You’re getting hit in the head, so who can say it’s not dangerous?” Ali says. “It definitely is.”
Everyday Health medical director Mallika Marshall, MD, offers a similar warning. “Many boxing workouts do not involve punching bags or actual contact, but those that do can obviously lead to injury,” she warns. “If you choose to include sparring in your workout, you must wear protective gear, such as a helmet, mouthguard, and gloves to protect your head, teeth, jaw, and hands.” Marshall also cautions people with an underlying medical condition — particularly a heart or respiratory issue — to consult a doctor before beginning such a high-intensity workout.
If your doctor approves you for boxing, Marshall says you’re in for a stress-relieving exercise that can burn calories, improve mental focus, build self-confidence, and more.
A No-Contact Boxing Workout
Have 20 minutes? Then you have enough time to break a serious sweat under Clampitt’s watch. Once you can get through the four basic punches (jab, right punch, hook, uppercut), try this workout at home or at your gym for a quick calorie-torcher.
Warm up: 3 x 2-minute rounds of jump rope with 30 seconds rest between each round.
Workout: 3 x 2-minute continuous rounds of shadow boxing to work on fundamental skills. Alternate between two minutes of speed punching; two minutes of the “jab, right punch, hook, uppercut” sequence; and two minutes of the “jab, right punch, hook, right punch” sequence. Between each round, complete 30 seconds of push ups.
2 x 2-minute continuous rounds of lateral movements with a medicine ball. Holding a 5- to 10-pound ball, shuffle side to side in a circle, changing directions every 15 seconds or so. In between each round, complete 30 seconds of squats with the medicine ball.
Abs: Without resting, grab a weighted medicine ball and complete one minute of Russian twists. Sit with your legs bent in front of you, knees on the floor. Tilt your torso back to a 45-degree angle and twist the medicine ball from side to side as fast as you can, touching it to the ground on each side. For a more difficult modification, lift your feet off the ground.
Finish with one minute of medicine ball crunches with your arms extended above your chest.