Jab, cross, punch, duck! Your first boxing class can be intimidating, to say the least. Suit up with wraps and gloves, then get ready to kick the BOB dummy, punch the bag, or aim for your partner’s mitts. Whatever it is you’re aiming at, a boxing workout tests all of your muscles — especially your core — and will leave you drenched in sweat. We talked to seven pros to help you channel your inner Muhammad Ali.
Boxer Stance: Stand with feet parallel and hip-width distance apart, hands in fists close to face. Take your right foot back behind your left so left shoulder is facing your opponent or the bag. Stay light on your feet.
Jab: Start in boxer stance. Take a slight step forward as you extend left arm towards bag or opponent, fingernails facing down. As soon as your fist makes contact pull it back to start, and bring your feet back to hips-width distance.
Cross: Start in boxer stance. Start to straighten right arm with fingers and thumb facing toward the ground in a fist. Pivot right knee forward in the same direction as fist, twisting hips. Use the power from your hips to quickly make contact with the bag and then return to start.
Hook: A punch thrown with both the right and left hands, where you start outside the body and punch toward the midline of your body.
Upper Cut: Another punch thrown on both the right and left (typically called a front uppercut and back uppercut). You make a scooping motion with this punch.
Pro Tip: We highly recommend you arrive early to your first class. It’s not uncommon for the instructor to only review the punches before class starts. While it’s always best to let the teacher know if it’s your first time attending, knowing the terms above will act as a solid primer before your first class. (All of the terms above are for right-handed fighters, as opposed to left-handed ones, or Southpaw boxers. )
We chatted with Kendall Toole, a founding trainer at Rumble Boxing in Los Angeles, Jess Sims, a trainer at Shadowbox in NYC, Rob McCullough, trainer at UFC Gyms, and Rise by We instructors Leonit Shaashua, Liv Adler, Mark Sayer and Maurice Hood.
While you can likely get find gloves at the boxing studio, they’re going to stink. “When you first start to train, you need only one pair of gloves, and they should be 14 to 16 ounces and allow you to make a proper fist,” Sayer says. “I’ve used a dozen brands over the years and my current favorite by far is Warrior Style. They allow you to make a proper fist.” What to look out for: “Cheap gloves will often only allow for what I call the ‘hitch-hiker fist,’ meaning the thumb up and not close to the proper closed position,” Sayer says.
Fighting Sports 12-ounce lace-ups are what Liv Adler, NASM CPT certified and registered USA Boxing Amateur fighter, recommends. “They feel broken in the second you put them on — not stiff and are a close fit to your hand,” she says. “They give me excellent wrist support and aren’t bulky or heavy feeling. They’re great for beginners and they’re only $100.” And when you’re ready to upgrade to something a little fancier and more technical than those gloves, Adler says Winnings gloves are the best. “These gloves start at $400, but they’re a perfect boxing glove. If you can afford it, this would be my number one recommendation.”
“Just like you wouldn’t wear regular sneakers to a spin class, you’d ideally get a pair of boxing shoes because you need a lightweight, supportive, flexible shoe with good grip,” Sims says. “As far as boxing shoes go, I like Adidas the best, especially the Adidas Box Hogs,” Hood, a USA Boxing certified coach, says. “They feel as light as feathers and have great ankle support, which makes it easier to move around the ring.”
“When buying boxing boots, it’s essential to have a thin and flexible sole to keep you light on the toes. These Nike Hyperko boxing boots are swaggy and stylish. Opt for the classic black and silver, or go crazy with neon,” Toole says.
Handwraps are your first line of defense and protection against the bag or mitts, and will also help dilute the stinky smell of used gloves if you aren’t quite ready to make that buying decision. Adler likes the Everlast 180 hand wraps because they’re “always 180 cm in length — never shorter — soft and don’t get messed up in the laundry.”
“My all-time favorite wraps [are the] BoxRaw yellow wraps,” Toole says. “The fabric holds up very well in the wash (always use a garment bag to prevent tangles!) and the velcro has a great sheen and thickness to it, that gives a little extra support to the wrists.”
And in terms of how to put them on — you can always opt for quick wraps, ask the head trainer, or check out YouTube for a how-to video, Sims recommends.
This simple tool is one you should definitely have. “It’s cheap, portable, and crucial to help you understand being on your toes, and works your stamina,” Sims say.