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.
Let’s go back to what I mentioned earlier about three minutes not being long enough to become proficient at any of the unfamiliar movements.
Sure, in a perfect world, where I had previously been to 9Round enough times to know the jargon and be able to throw myself immediately into each station, I would have gotten a better workout.
And again, in a perfect world where I had been trained properly in good punching and kicking form and technique, I would have maximized my time and not flailed about getting frustrated and risking injury. But in reality, even if I went to 9Round every day for a week, I would still only amass 21 minutes at the speed bag and I doubt I would have even begun to grasp the physics behind mastering the timing and hand-eye coordination necessary to exercise anything but my patience.
I understand that if they had allowed me to spend more time learning how to use each station correctly, I would have been there all morning. I also would have drastically impacted everyone else’s workouts because there was only one piece of equipment for each station. So, other than having a big warning sign on the door that says “if you don’t know what you are doing, you should probably do yoga next door” I don’t have a solution for them.
Aside from that major flaw in the structure of their workouts, my only other complaints are:
Lack of personal attention (especially for us noobs),
Lack of a warm-up (which I guess I would solve one my own, if I were to go again).
The Benefits of Fitness Boxing
Let me start by saying that fitness boxing isn’t vastly superior to any other types of exercise. There is nothing magical about it, but it does have a few decent health benefits.
One benefit is building strength. When you are swinging your arms around and moving muscles in ways that don’t generally happen in daily life, you will certainly gain some upper-body strength. And the same goes for your legs. My favorite exercise of the day combined burpees with kneeing a horizontal bag as hard as I could. It left me feeling strong and sore for a few days.
Punching with maximum power requires that you put your entire weight behind the punch, making your whole body (hips, arms, back, legs, shoulders, and abs) work together in one motion. This helps build overall strength because the muscles that you use in punching help support and stabilize all movement and proper alignment in your body.
Fitness boxing also provides some decent aerobic exercise. Anything that gets your heart pumping and makes you break a decent sweat is good in my book. And when I wasn’t getting frustrated or waiting for instructions, a was huffing and puffing. Plus the concentration and fun that I was having really made those three-minute stations fly by.
Boxing is also well known for improving hand-eye coordination, especially if you're sparring with an uncooperative speed bag, or hitting padded targets. When you practice movements like these, your eyes send electrical signals to your brain providing information about the visual stimuli. Your brain sends more signals to your hands telling them how to move in response to these stimuli. Errors in the process can result in difficulties coordinating movement, difficulties with balance, trouble focusing during sports, and difficulty learning tasks such as reading and writing. So, you can see why building and maintaining good hand-eye coordination is important for all of us, not just boxers.
And one last benefit of fitness boxing is that you are constantly changing your position and challenging your balance and the more you do that, the better your balance and proprioception reaction becomes.
Proprioception is known as body awareness and spatial awareness that ties in with hand-eye coordination. Or, in scientific terms, it is kinesthetic intelligence. This obviously matters in sport and fitness, but research has shown that increasing your proprioception can also increase your working memory used for holding short-term information that allows you to do things like math, solve logic problems, and even remember that person’s name who you just met.
9Round is a good full body workout. It is also a good and affordable option for people who only have 30 minutes and want to get a good mix of strength, agility, and coordination.
It is not good for anyone (like me) who is unfamiliar with boxing and kickboxing movements and punching bag physics mainly because in this short go-go-go style workout, there is no time for learning the nuance of a new skill.
It is also not good for anyone with mobility issues of movement limitations. People with low bone density, osteoporosis, or arthritis (especially in your hands) would also have serious issues with this workout.
But as always, the best way to determine if a particular workout style is right for you is to give it a try! But if I were to do it all again, I would first find a nice quiet boxing studio and spend some serious time getting the basics down before I threw myself into a situation where time is ticking, buzzers are buzzing, and the next round is only three minutes away.