When Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima is preparing for a show, she hits the ring. Lima is one of many stars who chooses former champion boxer Michael Olajide Jr., to whip her into shape at his boxing gym Aerospace, based in New York and recently opened in Los Angeles. In New Orleans, more and more women are also gloving up. “Boxing is simply the best way of getting your body in shape whether it’s for a modeling contract, a wedding or just to improve your health,” says Keith Director of Director Boxing in Mid-City. “Brides are usually really focused on their specific goals so we put them on a workout program to help them get there.”
Best of all Director recommends only two or three hour-long sessions per week with rest days in between.
Here’s why boxing works so well:
Full body workout
Boxing targets the whole body using all the muscle groups. It combines cardio and strength training to burn fat while improving balance, coordination, reactivity and agility for true overall fitness.
Upper body cardio and sculpting
The boxing part of the workout is an upper body cardio session, unlike most cardio that is usually generated by the legs (such as running or cycling). Boxing uses all of the muscles in your arms, but also your core, shoulders and obliques as you rotate to deliver punches. These movements sculpt and tone the upper body, tummy and waist.
Best HIIT fitness
Boxing delivers both aerobic exercise, when your heart works at 75-85 percent capacity to burn fat and improve cardiovascular health, and it also pushes you into anaerobic training which increases endurance, muscle mass, and metabolism and while boosting energy. The anaerobic exercise improves your body’s use of oxygen (VO2, which is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that your body can use) and makes you more fit. Punching with handheld pads and bags is mixed with plyometric exercises, such as jumping rope, jump squats, push-ups and high knees to deliver this High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) taking you into the anaerobic zone. Your body can only sustain this type of activity for short bursts so it is mixed with aerobic exercises and short periods of rest.
Keeps you on your toes
“Boxing is a never ending fitness challenge,” says Olajide. “No boxer who has ever gloved up has mastered all aspects of boxing, so when given a knowledgeable boxing trainer, it will never get boring.” You literally have to stay on your toes as you never know which punch combination is coming. “I make sure to constantly change and mix up the routines so my clients’ bodies can’t get used to the workout,” says Director. “By changing the moves and using a large variety, clients are less likely to experience stress from a repetitive strain.”
Any strenuous exercise releases adrenaline and endorphins that make you feel happier. With boxing, you also get to literally punch out any stresses and strains and because the drills are so fast, you have to focus your mind effectively releasing tension.
Sculpts and tones
Cardio exercise is important, but it needs to be balanced with weight-bearing exercises to build muscle and bone density. It is extremely hard for women to naturally bulk up: instead, weight exercises will increase tone and definition. In addition, more muscle mass will increase your metabolism and fat-burning capacity. Director has strict rules about keeping his workout sessions to small groups. “It’s critical that all the exercises are done with correct form,” he says. “Not only does this prevent injury but you’ll burn more calories, too.”
There’s no doubt that a full boxing workout makes you leaner, faster and stronger. Devotees say they also feel happier and more assertive as well. Perhaps the real beauty about boxing is that it won’t just prepare you for the wedding, it might actually prepare you to better handle life.
Keith Director can be reached at Director Boxing, 441 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans, 451-4962.