The First Rule Of Fight Club…

Author: Miranda Eason

Most Monday mornings at 6.45am you’ll find me in a BoxFit class, punching, kicking, leaping, squatting and crunching my way into the week soundtracked by heavy-on-the-bass tunes played at an eardrum-bothering volume. We work (incredibly) hard for the duration of a song, catch our breath for around 30 seconds and then we’re back on it. By 7.30am I’m red-faced, sweaty and on a happy high, anything that was annoying me kicked and/or punched into touch. Several months on there’s a noticeable difference in my body, which is increasingly toned and stronger than ever.

Keen to take things up a level, pull on a pair of boxing gloves and actually hit something, a couple of weeks ago I signed up for a Skills and Drills boxing class at Work It, a boutique gym in Central London. Arriving at a more civilised 8am on a Friday morning, I joined a class of two guys and three other women and, with The Eye Of The Tiger playing on a loop in my head, I summoned up my inner Rocky Balboa/Nicola Adams/Jake G in Southpaw (without the anger management issues).

After a warm up that left me gasping for breath and thinking, ‘That was the warm up?!” we got into pairs and took it in turns to punch or be punched. Aside from the physical hard work I had no idea how much concentration is involved in boxing, I frequently forgot how many jabs or crosses there was supposed to be in each combo. As the class progressed the punching element was interspersed with short, sharp bursts of floor exercises, the combos got longer and we swapped partners. When one of the guys told me to lower my pads, because he didn’t want to hit my face, I suddenly remembered that we were actually hitting each other and that fist to face contact was actually a possibility. Eek! There was a motivating, uplifting soundtrack, but I was concentrating too hard to take mental notes of what was on it. It took everything I had to finish the final combo of 100 punches, but I did it, feeling a massive sense of achievement and that addictive happy high.

After class I talked to Work It founder, owner and kick ass trainer Charlie Enstone-Watts, a former professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter who used to train twice a day, every day – including with pro boxers at least four times a week – as well as working as a personal trainer. You could say he knows his stuff. I asked him about the growing popularity of boxing, the mind and body benefits, and persuaded him to share one of Work It’s signature workouts that you can do at home (see right!).

“Boxing has definitely grown in popularity,” confirms Charlie. “Years ago, boxing was only available in spit and sawdust type gyms which may have intimidated or put people off. But with British boxers – Nicola Adams in particular – doing so well at events like the Olympics, boxing has become more mainstream and boxing classes are widely available.”

If you thought boxing would work your arms but not much else, well, wrong. “Boxing is an amazing whole body workout,” says Charlie. “You’re constantly moving your arms, twisting through your core and moving around using your legs, making it great for toning arms, legs and stomach. In addition, it will seriously improve your fitness, focus your mind and is great for stress relief.”

Work It classes are 40 or 60 minutes long (I did a 40 minute class). “You work at a high intensity in intervals, of three minutes long, the length of a boxing round,” explains Charlie. “There will always be a full body, pulse-raising warm up, followed by a main technical focus. We finish with some toning and endurance exercises for the arms and stomach. Music is very important as it helps with rhythm, motivation and atmosphere.” (See box to find Work It playlists on Spotify).

{Box & Tone}
A Work It Signature Workout

3 minutes skipping

10 star jumps
20 straight air punches
10 squats
20 straight air punches
Repeat x 3

3 minutes skipping

10 press ups
10 crunches
10 burpees
Repeat x 3

3 minutes skipping

This is a great workout and will take no longer than 30 minutes. Do it three times a week to sculpt your body into a firm, toned, fighting-fit goddess. For music to soundtrack your workout search for charlieewatts-gb on Spotify and choose from a Work It or a Hip Hop playlist. Follow @workitlondon on Twitter and @workitlondon on Instagram for more health and fitness inspiration.

Even better there’s no need to invest in lots of fancy kit. “It’s always good to wear something comfortable like a loose t-shirt or vest, that will allow full range of movement,” says Charlie. I was glad I’d worn lightweight trainers because you’re constantly moving, and a high impact sports bra, as there was lots of jogging and jumping in between punching.

Anyone else given boxing a try? How did you find it? How’s everyone doing with their fitness goals over the summer? I’ve been doing my best to stick to a routine of doing at least a couple of cardio classes and a yoga class most weeks, booking them in on weekday mornings to make sure I do them, and I can relax on the weekend (or do an extra class if I’m feeling energetic, or in need of a stretch!). Now I’ve found boxing I definitely plan to include it in my workout week as often as possible, and I can’t wait to try Work It’s Hip Hop boxing class, starting in September.

Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.
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13 thoughts on “The First Rule Of Fight Club…

  1. I love the home workout. I currently go to the gym once a week, and would love to go more but just do not have the time at the moment. 30 minutes I can do at home seems much more manageable. Fingers crossed I can do it and stick to it! X

    1. It’s definitely harder some weeks than others to fit in classes/gym sessions Emma. Hope this helps! x

  2. That class sounds awesome! I love hearing about things like this.
    However, I just found out I’m pregnant so reckon boxing is off the cards for a while. I know there’s been a few mentions of pregnancy fitness, but do you think one of the lovely RMS ladies who’ve been pregnant might fancy doing a fitness post about how to stay fit whole pregnant…? Just an idea. It seems to be a minefield.
    Anyway, sorry to go off topic! I still love hearing about your gym exploits, even though mine are a bit less high intensity now.

      1. Ah thank you. A pregnancy fitness post would be super awesome. I love my exercise classes so finding it frustrating being restricted!

        1. Mel, I’m 8 months pregnant now so hopefully able to offer a little bit of insight. I would suggest firstly, don’t beat yourself up if you find you don’t want to/don’t feel up to exercise. In my first trimester I had very little energy so despite my best intentions I ended up pretty much stopping all exercise apart from a weekly pilates class. I was disappointed because previously I’d been fairly fit so felt sluggish & didn’t enjoy sitting around. However, by about 12/13 weeks my energy returned and I was able to resume running. I’ve kept running throughout since then – only slowly and with plenty of walk breaks when needed, but I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s helped me feel more like me. Recently I’ve added more swimming in as it’s lovely to feel weightless in the pool so I’d recommend that. Have a chat to your midwife – mine was all for me continuing to exercise as long as I felt up to it. However, like I said at the beginning, if you find that it’s not right for your body then don’t worry about it – it’s only a few months after all (she says despite feeling like I’ve been pregnant forever!!).
          Good luck with it all,
          Katie x

        2. Hi Mel,

          Worth noting too that Charlotte recommended Tracy Anderson’s pregnancy project in one of her maternity posts – I bought this when I got pregnant and so far (at 24 weeks!) it’s really helping me keep my sanity when missing my usual workouts! A bit spendy compared to other pregnancy workout dvds out there but you get a different workout every month so worth it I reckon!

        3. Hi Mel,
          Congratulations 🙂 I’ve just given birth to our first and completely agree with the other comments. Swimming (& aqua aerobics), Tracey Anderson’s pregnancy project dvd, pregnancy yoga, sitting on a pilates ball and lots of walking all helped keep me limber for labour as well as weight control & toning.
          I’d also add that rest and healthy diet is just as important because your body is going through huge demands. I found it hard to accept at first that i couldn’t keep doing everything I’d normally do but making my own, little ‘fitness plan’ helped me feel like I wasn’t letting myself go (or feel guilty about the extra treats!).
          I’m now on the hunt for postpartum exercises that I can do with the little one.
          All the best. X

  3. I’ve always fancied boxing as there is a boxing place just a 10 minute walk away from home, but never quite plucked up the courage to go in and book a session. It does look really fun and having now done most of my weight loss for the year, I really need to start working on toning up and it looks like this could be great for that.
    As for my August goals, failing miserably! Lol I’m now averaging once a week at the gym and I’ve been cheating on my diet 🙁 I’ve lost over 4st this year and I really need to get my head back in the game to do the last 1.5st by the end of the year.

    1. I say definitely give it a go Gracie, I definitely feel like I work harder in both BoxFit and boxing classes than any other class, as Charlie says it really is a full body workout. I hear you about it being hard to keep at it in the summer, being outside is so much more appealing than being in a gym. Are there are outdoor classes near you, to change things up and get you working out away from the gym environment?

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