FFrom a distance, boxing looks like the least Covid-compliant exercise possible: a contact sport with more sweat than you ever dreamed of and a presumably concomitant amount of heavy breathing. But look again: there isn’t a lot of real contact in a boxing class. It’s you against the bag, and bags have been socially distancing themselves since before the term was invented.
So for my first live-action aerobics class in over a year, I found myself at Kobox, a boxing gym in London. Maybe he was overexcited even to be there, but he was dazzled from the start. The receptionist was on leave to act in Phantom of the Opera. Everyone in the class was built like a model and had a seriousness of purpose that made me think they had been told to attend as part of their induction to SAS. Aidan, the instructor, had a Ph.D. in the legal definition of art. They were the kind of people who made you wish David Bowie was still alive, so he could write a song about them. If you didn’t want it already, of course you were.
Everyone has their own formula for knowing how much more they work with an instructor than when they do their own training, or one online: mine is live = online + ∞ (yes, I did Google how to type the infinity symbol, thanks for realize).
The class followed a classic HIIT (high intensity interval training) formula, divided into four minute blocks: four in the bag; four floor work; a minute resting in the middle. The floor work was burpees, mountain climbs, bikes, a lot of Emom (every minute, in the minute), which is basically a ruse to get you to do difficult things faster than you want to. Fortunately, it was dark, so no one could see me slowing down, until every minute, in the 45 seconds, the rest were sitting. It has a disco feel to it, thanks to the extreme darkness and radical southern rap soundtrack, so all I could see were my sneakers, which was fine as they were by far the most aesthetic of all. my.
The bags were a different story. If you’ve ever boxed, you’ll know the basics: one and two are fast, straight jabs with alternating hands; three and four are hooks, semi-round side punches; five and six are uppercuts. A projector lit up routines on the wall, and everyone did. You could feel the pent-up anger hitting the bags. “Why do all these beautiful young men have to be so angry?” I was wondering. “They should try to be perimenopausal and lose a little dispute with Europcar.”
I felt strong as an ox and as fast as a gazelle. My bag wasn’t moving at all, no matter how hard I hit it, and I didn’t care. Aidan, amid motivational shouts, was dancing, which absolutely and positively met the legal definition of art, as far as I’m concerned. My heart rate got so high that it should have scientifically died. Sometimes to do a backflip Joni mitchell, you don’t know what you’re missing until he comes back.
What I learned
Boxing is a known endorphin sport, due to the combination of cardio intensity and naked aggression. I was high for about a day and a half.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism