You’re looking to get started in boxing? Great decision. Seriously. You won’t regret it. Nearly all boxing gyms offer classes for beginners but before you turn up for your first class, let’s break down three key things for you to consider:
- What to expect from boxing classes
- How to pick the right gym for you
- What to wear and bring
And if you’re still wavering on whether to give the Sweet Science a go then head over to the article I wrote all about why I believe everyone should try it. The sport changed my life.
What to expect from boxing classes 👊
1. Hard work
It’s full body, it’s both cardio and strength, and studies show shown that it is the single most intense sport for burning calories.
Boxing is nothing if not exhausting. I’ve tried all sorts of intense sports like long distance running and squash and can safely say that my body has never been put through its paces in the way that it is in 60 minutes of boxing training. Honestly, box 2 or 3 times a week and after 6 months you’ll be in the shape of your life.
A big part of this is the physicality of the sport but another major factor is the values of commitment, discipline, and hard work that are inherent to boxing. Boxing has toughness and determination in its DNA and all proper boxing coaches will work to push you to your limit.
So, if you’re a noob heading to boxing classes for the first time, don’t expect selfie opportunities and getting away with half-hearted participation. You’re gonna be made to work as hard as you ever have in a gym but, I promise, you’ll feel incredible for it.
They say that nothing galvanizes respect for another person like going through something rough with them. That’s why at the end of most fights you see on TV the two fighters are gushing in praise for one another (despite weeks of publicity-fueling trash talk beforehand).
The same happens in a boxing gym. When you’re training hard with the same people day-in-day out, week-in-week out, punching them in the face and getting hit back, you develop a unique bond forged in sweat and (sometimes) blood.
I live and train in Barcelona and barely speak Spanish but have still made great mates in the boxing gym and spend time with them outside the gym.
Boxing gyms have communities and environments unlike anything you’ll find in a standard gym or Pilates class. They often form core parts of the local community and regularly have initiatives to help local kids and people struggling with illness or addiction.
3. Great fun
Ok, I get it, from the outside it might sound like getting punched in the face isn’t much fun. And maybe I’m just strange, but I find fighting is uniquely exhilarating.
There’s no adrenaline rush quite like it. It might seem intimidating but in reality boxing classes are extremely fun and satisfying as you learn an awesome new skill and punch things!
Don’t worry, if you don’t want to fight anyone else (known as sparring), no one will ever force you too.
How to pick a gym 🏠
This is really important. Get it wrong and you’ll be put off the sport for good. Get it right and you’ll change your life. No pressure.
1. Type of gym
There are boxing gyms and then there are boxing gyms. My preference is always for those authentic, pure boxing gyms.
You know, the type where there is duct tape around the bags, the head coach is a former pro fighter, and the passion for the sport is seeping out of the walls. At these places you’ll learn the real art and spirit of boxing and, if you’re up for it, train to compete.
There are many MMA gyms that have boxing classes, generic gyms with some punch bags, and boxercise studios that will all give you a great workout and some sort of boxing instruction but they are a very different experience to what you’ll find in a traditional pure boxing gym.
When you’re searching for a gym, make sure to bear this in mind. If you want superfood smoothies and hot people in leggings then look for boxercise places like Rumble, but if you want the real deal, find an independent, old-school boxing gym.
Location – I’m lucky as my gym is literally on the same block so I have no excuse not to go. Try and find somewhere as close to your home or work as possible so that it’s easy to integrate into your routine and you don’t start resenting the time it takes to travel there.
Class schedule – Most (but not all) boxing gyms offer various classes throughout the day that you can join as a member. Some offer 6,7,8 a day, from early morning to late night, while others may only offer 1 or 2 a day in the afternoon. You obviously need to find a gym with classes that fit your schedule so make sure to find this information out before joining. The other, but more expensive option, is to hire one-on-one coaching every time you want to train.
Gyms will often differ in the types of classes they offer. For example, some have dedicated boxing classes for beginners while others combine all skills in the same class. Or some gyms will have fitness-focused sessions in the schedule, while others will incorporate fitness into their standard boxing classes.
3. Cost & membership structure
Boxing shouldn’t be expensive but it of course it heavily depends on the location of the gym. You’ll have to pay more for a city centre gym in NYC than you will for a gym in the suburbs or Jacksonville.
Membership structure can differ a lot. The best types are those that offer unlimited classes for a fixed amount (this way you’ll be incentivised to go more often), others limit the number of classes you can attend, and some just provide you with access to the gym and then you have to pay for 1-on-1 coaching when you are there.
For unlimited classes per moth expected to pay $100-$250 / month depending on where you live, and the longer you sign-up for, the bigger discount you will get.
1-on-1 training can cost between $50-$150 per hour, and many gyms offer drop in class options for $15-$30 per class.
Also, it’s quite common for boxing gyms to charge a one-off initiation fee that usually costs $50-$100. I’m not a fan of these but such is life.
4. Free trial class
The vast majority of gyms offer a free trial class for beginners so you can get a feel for the gym and the sport before making a commitment. If they don’t offer, ask.
There’s nothing worse than a place full of big egos and anger management problems. Proper boxing gyms will weed this sort of thing out but try and get a sense if the gym has a welcoming, supportive, and friendly atmosphere. It will make all the difference to your motivation. Google reviews are generally a great place to do some background research on a gym.
The best boxing classes make beginners and pros alike feel welcome and cared for – don’t settle for anything less.
This nearly goes without saying but a decent coach makes all the difference. A great coach with motivate you, a poor coach will make you feel small. A great coach will welcome you, a poor coach will wait for you to prove yourself. A great coach will help you perfect your technique, a poor coach is only interested in filling the class with as many students as possible.
The best gyms out there are the ones that make its members feel like family and this is a direct result of the environment created by the owners and coaches. If you’re going to be serious about boxing then you’ll spend plenty of time with your coach so might as well find a good one!
What you need for your boxing classes 🥊
- Gloves – I wouldn’t buy a pair of gloves for your first class. Most gyms will have spare pairs that you can borrow for the first few classes while you try out the sport and decide if it’s something you want to continue with. Once you’re set, then you can go and buy a pair. We wrote about boxing gloves for beginners here which should give you all the info you need to help choose. You can get a decent pair like these Everlasts to get you started for just $50.
- Hand wraps – Do not skip the wraps. I repeat: do not skip the wraps! Not only do wraps prevent you from loosing all the skin on your knuckles, they act as a hygiene layer between your hands and the gloves, absorbing lots of sweat and preventing an awful smell. You can pick them up for $10 online and learn how to put them on here.
- Sports clothes – No rocket science here. Wear something comfortable and bear in mind that you’re going to sweat, lots. A white t-shirt may not be the best idea…Shorts, t-shirt, and some running shoes will do the job just fine.
- Water – Did I mention how tiring boxing is? You’re gonna want to drink and rehydrate throughout your training so don’t forget to bring as a big a bottle as you can find!
12th Round 🔔
Getting started in boxing might seem intimidating but once you’ve got going you’ll quickly wonder why you didn’t give it a try years ago.
Despite being a combat sport, boxing is an extremely welcoming sport where beginners can take classes alongside seasoned pros in motivating, exciting environments.
Make no mistake, boxing is hard work but it is also extremely rewarding on so many levels. Make sure you pick the right gym though, that will make all the difference.
Happy fighting! 🥊🥊
“Getting hit motivates me. It makes me punish the guy more. A fighter takes a punch, hits back with three punches.” — Roberto Duran