The Burn: I Took One Boxing Class, So Don’t Mess with Me

Watch out world; I can kind of throw a punch now.

Despite my usual cheery attitude and ear-to-ear grin (got to show of those grueling years of orthodontic work), I’ll admit I have some anger. Perhaps I hold too many grudges. Perhaps I need to take a break from the internet. Perhaps the fury I feel about the colonial violence, environmental destruction, and systemic inequality ever-present within our society and around the world is totally justified. I’m not one to take out my feelings physically (unless you count crying as physical), but I’ve also never been in an environment in which it was okay to really hit something. That is, until I tried a BOX class at Studeo 55.I know that boxing is far more than an excuse to punch something—it is demanding exercise, a transformative workout, and a sport that requires a lot of discipline and a lot of heart. For a total amateur like me, though, this class was part recreation and part curiosity. Just how powerful could I be? Also, how does one put on a second boxing glove without the help of the already-gloved hand?The SpaceStudeo 55 looks more like a nightclub than a fitness studio, from the black rope stanchions lining the windowless entrance to the custom shake bar to the lounge area, where leather couches and intricate hanging egg chairs are lit by a soft pink glow. The space inspires me to ponder the similarities between an early-morning exercise class and a late night at the club. Sweaty darkness, check. Petty envy towards people with nicer bodies than mine, check. Strangers encouraging me to drink water, check. The boxing room at the centre of the studio has its own unique air of exclusivity. Massive orange, pink and yellow squares tile the outside walls, sealing it off from the rest of the space. The neon orange square arch looks like a portal into an alternate universe—a universe with free water and towels, where hitting things is encouraged (with proper training and technique, of course). Inside, giant water-filled globes are suspended from the ceiling, numbered from 1-18. Those numbers correspond to cubbies lining the walls of the room, where you can store water bottles, towels and other personal equipment. The room is illuminated by the intense glow of a purple blacklight, a foreshadowing of the class ahead: this health club means business.The WorkoutMy instructor, Jason Noel, began the class with an introduction to Studeo 55’s BOX classes. There are six types of numbered punches—three with one hand, three with the other. Even though the bag wouldn’t be punching us back, my instructor stressed the importance of staying focused and alert. At times of rest, we were to keep our hands by our cheekbones. Something about standing like this made me feel strong, even though I’d never taken a class like this and certainly had no idea what I was doing. Hands wrapped, stance wide, and fists protecting my face, I felt ready.We started with practicing the hits standing next to the ball, sans gloves, with light weights. Even though they were only a few pounds, the weights felt heavy after a few reps. We moved on to testing each hit on the bag, gloves on. Unlike throwing a ball, you aren’t meant to follow through when throwing a punch at a bag – a fundamental skill that I failed at at first, my bag jiggling and swinging forward embarrassingly. After more instruction and practice, I learned to strike and then pull back quickly, kind of like giving a hard high five with my fist.Jason alternated boxing exercises with floor exercises, giving participants in the class a full-body workout. We learned different combinations of the hits and performed them with varying intensity, sometimes focusing on speed and sometimes on power. Jason moved around the room giving pointers to the novices and vets alike, often donning punch mitts so we could test out our skills on a less globular target. We finished the class with a cycle of medicine ball exercises and a stretch, at which point I had to check in the mirror to make sure that my arms were indeed still attached to my earthly body.The VerdictIn general, I love the idea of working out, I love the feeling I get after I work out, but I’m not a huge fan of the actual workout, particularly when my muscles are screaming and I can hear my heart beat in my ears. Taking all of this into account, this boxing class felt like the shortest group class I’ve ever taken. There was no point at which I was looking at the time or thinking about what kind of bagel I was going to reward myself with. The short intervals of activity, varying types of exercises, and super fun nature of the workout made time fly by. As I was descending the stairs back down to street level, legs jelly, I tried to take a picture of the studio wall and realized that my hands were shaking. I was exhausted but still totally pumped. Even though one boxing class certainly won’t give you the skills of an athlete, it might give you the attitude of one, plus the drive to go back for more. So don’t mess with me—I’ve got a sub-par uppercut and I’m not afraid to use it.The DeetsStudeo 55202 – 865 Hornby Streetstudeogyms.comClasses from $32