How to box, by one girl who’s ready for a fight, and one who’s ready to throw in the towel before she’s even started.
THIS GIRL CAN
by Hannah Swerling
I’ve got a mean right hook. Sure, day to day I’m all blithe smiles and carefree conversation but get me in the ring and I become a straight-up brawler. What can I say? Boxing is fun, cathartic and ridiculously good exercise. What’s not to like, Holly?
I’m not going to lie. I’m hardly Ronda Rousey. I’ve never had a straight up fight in the actual ring, one on one. I’ve never knocked out another human being. I’ve thought about it, but mostly when I’m on the phone to IT at work, not in the actual gym. But boxing training is brilliant. It’s all about stamina, strength, agility and co-ordination. Throwing punches at pads with a sparring partner demands serious concentration and yet you still get lost in the thumping chaos of it all.
I pulled on my first pair of cartoon-sized red boxing gloves 4 years ago when I was far more conscientious about fitness and had a personal trainer once a week. We would run through punching sequences – right hook, left hook, cross, cross, punch. And repeat. As someone with minimal coordination, it was tough. I messed up constantly and got really frustrated with myself. But then I took out that frustration on the pads. Problem. Solution. Thwack! Kapow!
And the skipping. I hadn’t skipped since the <Apples, Peaches, Pears and Plums> days in the playground at school. Again, a lack of coordination is not your friend here but you can improve really quickly and it makes you feel so nimble and sprightly and I almost never feel like that. In the last couple of years, I’ve ditched the trainer but I can still pack a punch whenever the opportunity arises.
Last week, the ELLE Fit crew descended on the Third Space gym in Soho for a boxing training session. It was like a <Rocky> training montage with fewer muscles and more giggling. Yes, we were all a bit nervous about accidentally catching the editor with a rogue left hook but as a group activity, it was a stupid amount of fun.
It’s really easy to confuse boxing with aggression but as a sport, it’s actually all about control and a calm temperament. Exercise for me, in whatever form, is all about release but it has to be low maintenance too. That’s why boxing is so great. All you need is a pair of gloves, a cool head and the eye of the tiger. Holly, I’ll see you in the ring.
THIS GIRL CAN'T BE BOTHERED
by Holly Rains
Boxing’s become a bit trendy now, hasn’t it? It could be something to do with Ronda Rousey and her gloriously efficient takedowns (both physical and vocal), or the social clout of the Victoria’s Secret Angels hashtag #TrainLikeAnAngel which is trending worldwide. Whatever the reason, the sport is definitely having a moment. And like all things that become popular, juicing or Justin Bieber, getting fit via the medium of padded gloves and mouth guards has suddenly become an accessible reality. Cue my first foray into the world of boxing.
I usually have an excuse ready to get me out of anything fitness related, one that generally consists of me blaming my 5’10” height (I’m too tall for yoga/jogging/life), and explains why I haven’t ever joined ELLE’s Wednesday run club. ‘Sorry guys, I’m just too tall today…’, but unlike running, reps and various other high intensity training initiatives, aside from a few jabs and strategical lunges, boxing appears relatively static. Spoiler: This is a laughably inaccurate assessment of the sport.
In the lead up to ELLE’s Team Boxing session, I became obsessed with Gigi Hadid’s Instagram videos. After 15 seconds of the model demonstrating her impressive jab-jab-duck routine, I was thankful that if I learnt nothing else, I knew that a high ponytail and grey marl hoody were both suitable options for boxing, which left me feeling both mentally and sartorially prepared for the class ahead.
I soon realised, however, that once again my bodily proportions were all wrong for boxing. As the rest of ELLE stood fierce and focused, listening to pro-tips and watching boxing seuqences expertly delivered by our trainer Cathy, I was stood in the corner of the gym, getting my comically long wraps bandaged around my uncoordinated hands like some sort of petulant child who didn’t want to get dressed that morning. Neon yellow. I presume so to act like a high vis jacket to expressly highlight my boxing ineptitude.
During the 20 minutes of class in, I did feel an overwhelming sense of… something. I’m still not quite sure what, but I defy anyone not to get a sudden rush of adrenalin when your sparring partner appears to be intent on punching you in the face, followed by the ensuing joy of delivering a semi-decent right hook in response.
So, Hannah, it’s on. I’ll see you in the ring.
Literally. I’ll be watching you from the side-lines whilst I get wrapped up.