A few years ago, Sport&Health fitness director Ram Sharif realized that he could integrate boxing into personal training. And, the members loved it.
“The benefits include improving a client’s ability to harness and control explosive power, increasing overall strength and endurance, and sharpening hand eye coordination, reaction time and speed,” explained Sharif. “Many personal training clients are both intrigued and intimidated with the possibility of incorporating boxing into their training sessions. Developing a mutual understanding with clients that boxing sessions are focused on fitness needs and custom tailored to their fitness levels relieves a lot of the intimidation factors that may go into the stereotypical thought of a boxing session. With the combination of different types of core exercises, compound total body movements and agility drills, the session becomes very dynamic, fun and different from any previous personal training experience the member may have had.”
The program has been so popular that when people come into Sport&Health for SmartStart, a complimentary free personal training assessment upon joining, many who normally would not consider buying personal training packages sign up.
Here, Sharif shares his insights on why he thinks the program is so popular, and the benefits of personal training with boxing elements.
CS: Why do you think it’s been so popular?
RS: I feel boxing has become very popular in our fitness club because it is something different, new, extremely fun and to some degree addicting. Understanding our average client’s day offers a better idea of possible reasons behind this. Forbes ranked Washington D.C. last year as not only the top 10 worst cities to commute in, but also as one of the most stressful cities to live in. So what is a person to do with all this built up stress and anxiety? And most importantly, how do you get rid of it?
Exercise has scientifically been proven to increase endorphins, increase your metabolism, boost your mood, decrease fat and reduce stress so you can get a better night sleep. It is no surprise that after having a bad day at work our clients choose to skip sitting in the average 45-minute commute and instead come in to burn at least 500 calories in a high intensity boxing session that will only take them 30 minutes. Unleashing all their stress from work or their personal endeavors, we have our clients hone in on their aggression and turn it into motivation to push themselves through one of the most challenging workouts they have ever done. If sweat was fat crying, let’s just say your body will be thoroughly mourning the loss of lipids by the end of your session.
CS: How exactly have you integrated boxing into personal training?
RS: After a few bio-mechanical assessments to understand muscular compensations we show our clients some corrective exercises for injury prevention and start running through the basics of boxing. We always start every member with mitt training. With mitt training there are certain steps we always take as safety precautions. For example, my team always takes the extra time to wrap our clients’ hands to ensure safety of their most vital tool; this also increases the client’s level of confidence.
Mitts and pads are targets for clients and assist with the accuracy and precision of their punches. The person holding the mitts has the greatest responsibility because they have to ensure the safety of the client, but also have enough knowledge to walk them through all punches. I have been fortunate enough to have members on our team that are super knowledgeable and have boxing backgrounds.
It is important to remember that our clients are boxing as a hobby and do not plan on competing in a professional match. We make it fun without overwhelming the client with too many cues. Teaching a client a few punches at a time keeps the learning process easy and simple and is almost like a dance. We alter the sequence of punches and the intensity based on the client. Clients who integrate boxing into their personal training sessions report having more fun and pushing themselves harder. Some come in from bad day at work and after boxing, say they feel great.
CS: What do your clients like about this integration? What results are they seeing?
RS: We are glad, although not surprised, when clients say, “Can we box today?” It’s the simple code of them saying, “I could really use a high intensity workout or boxing therapy.” Punches and combinations with the mitts change all the time, they are always evolving. The style and the combinations are going to always be different trainer to trainer due to the uniqueness and creativity aspect for all of us. As we are putting the combinations together we are walking them through a simulated fight, explaining in great detail why they are slipping and rolling through punches, while finding openings for a counter.
CS: What can other personal trainers and personal training directors learn from this integration?
RS: As a personal trainer or director it is our imperative to create exciting and innovative workouts. Boxing is one of many integrations that we can bring into our program. There is not a one size fits all; therefore, these integrations allow us to diversify. I personally love boxing because of the release that it gives me from all of the daily stressors. The moment those gloves come on and that bell rings you are free, dominating all your challenges, fears and goals. Using your own passion for a specific routine can help guide you with integrations. Always find ways to be creative and pioneering in making working out fun and effective for members. Our end goal is to deliver the ultimate fitness experience to every member, every time.