DTLA - I started boxing 18 months ago, following recommendations from two friends. It was never something I intended to do; I’m a nonviolent person who never saw himself in a fight. 

Still, I’ve been physically active for years, getting into weight training, running 5Ks, even mud runs. But it all felt unfocused. I wanted something where I could work on skill, precision and put strength into a specific task. So I tried boxing. 

I was not expecting that I would be hooked.

It turns out, boxing is less about the actual violence of the sport and more about the technique. Yes, you put your force into a punch, but boxing is also about when to hit something as opposed to how hard. Trainers drill the mental aspect of the sport, testing out your opponent’s defenses, slowly working your way into striking distance, and timing the jab and cross combinations that will bring the other person down. The mix of footwork, punches, dodging and keeping an eye on your opponent can be overwhelming at first, but soon becomes a fun challenge.

Boxing is also just an incredible workout. Whether it’s basic fitness drills or clobbering away at a heavy bag until the clock ticks down to the buzzer, there’s a focus on stamina and endurance. 

It’s a full-body workout. The constant footwork leaves calves burning, while you work your core thanks to all of those hip twists and rolls from the punching. The padded gloves, which feel light and soft when you put them on, drag like anchors after a few rounds as you struggle to keep your hands up. Each hook or cross takes more effort to throw. By the end of a session you’re drenched in sweat.

Another bonus of boxing is that it’s rarely the same workout. You’re constantly moving around, facing off against different trainers or partners who each have their own fighting style, height, speed or skill level. 

I had to take a break last year due to a back injury, but after picking the sport up again in the last few months, it’s been a rewarding exercise, both physically and mentally.

Sometimes the best way to clear the mind is to put on some padded gloves and start hitting a heavy bag.

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2019