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Do Fitness Boxing Gyms Offer a Good Workout?

If you type “Fitness Boxing” into your search engine, you will be dazzled by the array of gyms providing this type of class. But do boxing workouts work? Are they effective? Get-Fit Guy goes undercover at 9Round to find out.

By
Brock Armstrong,
Episode #432
Photo of a woman hitting a heavy bag

With all the mounting evidence of how impactful an impact to the head can be on our health and wellbeing, there is no way that I would recommend any of you put yourself in danger of getting hit. But with gyms like 9Round popping up around the world, where there is no chance of you getting into a ring, let alone taking any punches, I feel confident including boxing workouts in my fitness toolkit.

So, with that out of the way, when a listener named Morgan called the Get-Fit Guy hotline and asked about boxing workouts, I was excited to dig in. This is what Morgan said: “I have a question about boxing. Can you get fit by doing a boxing type of class? I really enjoy them but are they really enough to get me fit?” That is a great question, Morgan, let's take a look.

Fitness Boxing

The genre known as fitness boxing is simply an adaptation of the movements from the sport most of us associate with a fellow named Rocky. Personal trainers and fitness entrepreneurs alike have taken many elements of boxing, both the punching and the general fitness, and blended them into an exercise routine that we all can do. In a nutshell, these workouts use heavy bags, boxing gloves, and other boxing and kickboxing gear, combined with aerobic and resistance training exercises to provide a full body, sweat-inducing, and somewhat cathartic workout. 

Unlike traditional boxing which requires that you spar with a partner, fitness boxing involves throwing punches (sometimes kicks) at a punching bag. Generally speaking, there are two main types of classes:

  1. One type has you follow an instructor to perform a series of boxing movements that have been set to music, similar to aerobics, BodyPump, or SoulCycle. The class includes a mix of tight punches (jabs), large punches (hooks, uppercuts), ducks, squats, and some fancy footwork.
  2. The other type of fitness boxing class involves circuit training that is a combination of strength training, agility, HIIT, and punching bags. This is the style that seemed the most appealing to me. So, with the help of an internet search, I booked my first session.

Get-Fit Guy Goes Undercover at 9Round

I put on my false nose and fake glasses to attend a (free) trial session at a boxing fitness gym called 9Round.

9Round bills itself as “a specialized fitness center for people who want a unique, fun, and proven workout that guarantees results.” With workouts that are all 30 minutes long, that can be started any time you arrive (as opposed to scheduled classes). Their goal is to offer "a kickboxing themed fitness program that incorporates a functional, interval, cardiovascular, and circuit training regimens.” Sounds good, right?

When I walked into the gym, I could see how this was going to play out. There was clearly going to be a combination of heavy bag work, kickboxing work, cardio conditioning, and drills. And from what I had read on their website, this was all set to a three-minute timer which keeps you moving through the nine stations ending your workout in 30 minutes… ish.

A buzzer sounds to signify the beginning of that round, another buzzer goes off when you have 30-seconds left (and you are supposed to increase your intensity), a third buzzer signifies the end of that round, and then you have 30 seconds to let your heart rate come down or to join in the transition exercise which the trainers shout out. Then it starts all over again. It’s a pretty slick idea (in theory, anyway). 

I got there pretty early (thank you Vancouver transit system) which happily turned out not to be an issue. At 9Round there is no sitting around waiting for a class to start. Whenever you show up, you can basically dive straight into the first of the three-minute stations and get punchin’.

As a franchise, every 9Round gym is set up in basically the same way but the exercises change from day to day. This is the general gist:

  • Round 1 and 2 are focused on conditioning work. These involve exercises like lunge twists, jump rope, jogging with high knees, jumping jacks, burpees, and mountain climbers.

  • Rounds 3 to 8 are boxing and kickboxing work. These involve speed bags, heavy bags (for punching and kicking) combined with agility work and cardio exercises.

  • Round 9 is the core strength round. This involves exercises that are designed to strengthen your core and by that, I mean your hips, abs, and low back.

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