I began teaching aerobic boxing in 1988 at the local Y.M.C.A. Aerobic dancing was the rage those days and instructors were more often than not former dancers. Being a physical education major with a masters in exercise physiology I always chuckled when someone told me they were an aerobic instructor. The definition of aerobic means the catabolism of energy substrates with oxygen so that could mean that particular individual was a “walking” instructor. Fortunately for me I had a background in boxing and taught physical education before becoming a firefighter and fitness instructor.
Since dance wasn’t my forte I decided to incorporate boxing into a group class. Fabulous footwork and the strong upper body movement that develops from punching in combinations catapulted my 60 minute sweat box to the top of the charts. My class was featured on “The Today Show”, “Good Day N.Y.” and “Fox Five News”. Your class will always be evolving to keep up with the competition but I’m going to lay out the basics for a starter class, and if I can do this anybody can.
Provide each class with a five minute orientation for proper stance, footwork and punching. Warm your class up to music of about 135-150 beats per minute. You don’t have to stay with an 8 count because boxing is too fast but it is wise to punch to the beat or use double time. Shake them out to get loose and warm by moving around, throwing punches and stretching the entire body. The key is to incorporate as many functional boxing moves as possible in your warm-up. The music you use for the class body should be recent and upbeat at about 150-175 beats per minute. Begin with footwork and lead by example. All rooms are fully mirrored so you are able to keep an eye on the participants. Move them in and out, lateral and as if circling an opponent. After five minutes (one song) begin with basic punches. Have the students throw the punches from both sides for muscle balance sake. Remember, most are there for a workout and not to become boxers. Taking a gander at my face might derail those thinking of a fight career but I do teach defensive maneuver’s (slipping, weaving, parrying and rolling with a punch) to prevent anyone from looking like me.
The beauty of this class is to learn a skill you will be able to use the rest of your life (self-defense) while receiving top-notch exercise. All students hands are wrapped before the class because each will have an opportunity to spar with me while I operate the focus mitts. (wear mitts on my hands they can punch at my direction. I will put the class in a working mode e.g. left right hook and duck) while I personally spar with a student. I keep changing the boxing modes until I have sparred with every student and we have covered at least six combinations. We do have a sprint session where the entire class moves to one side of a room with our back to the other wall. With their hands on the mirror each member pumps their legs furiously until I say sprint. All of us turn and sprint to the other side and pump the legs until my next command. This is fantastic for anaerobic training.
From here we will begin cooling down with more footwork,punching and defense before ending with floor work on the mat including push-ups, bar work and abdominal progressions, topped off with a five minute stretch. If you don’t like this class I will clean your house for a week. In twenty years I haven’t had to pick up a broom. I hope this gives you the inspiration to initiate your personal program. Lead by example and keep on punching. Yours in health, “The Fighting Fireman”.