Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Week in the Ring

So I was strolling down the street one day when I spotted this gem.

I've always wanted to learn how to box and having finally reached a decent level of fitness I decided to give it a shot. After signing up and attending my free trial, I found out that not only did I get a free class but also a free WEEK of unlimited membership. Sweet!

The entrance to the Ring is a small door just off the street, immediately followed by a flight of stairs. The Ring is located on the second floor, and having just climbed a barren flight of stairs, I felt like I was walking onto the set of Million Dollar Baby. It was essentially one large room with a boxing ring and a ton of heavy punching bags. For those of you who don't know me, I really like to train in bare and minimalistic environments. With the rap music in the background and a minimalistic design, the vibe of the place was pretty cool. I particularly enjoyed the graffiti art, boxing magazine's wallpaper, and tipped trash cans used for storing belongings.

Wallpaper by the water fountain

Tipped trash cans (very cool)

The gym had great hours and was even open during the weekends. With a free week, I made the most of it and took a break from training so that I could go everyday. The unlimited membership meant that I could attend as many classes as I wanted and could even enter to train on my own during working hours.

In my first trial class, I learned how to put on hand wraps as well as the five basic punches. I then proceeded to do some drills on the bag with some basic calisthenics thrown in. The drills worked like this. Each basic punch is assigned a number ranging from 1 to 5, with odd numbers referring to the left hand and even numbers referring to the right. The coach would call out a sequence of numbers and I would then throw those punches on the bag. So if the coach said 1,2,3, back, 1, 2, that would correspond to a jab, right cross, left hook, step back, jab, and right cross. Pretty simple. Every so often the coach would call out 15 push-ups! or 30 jumping jacks! which I would then do and immediately get back onto the bag. The training intensity was always kept high, but still nothing compared to the high-intensity training that Crossfit calls for. Then again, the drills lasted much longer than the typical Crossfit WOD.

Me putting on a pair of handwraps

I attended a mix of classes, the majority of which were based on technique. I found that the technique classes and conditioning sessions (dubbed 12 round workouts) were more or less equally tiring. Hence, I decided to focus more on technique so that I could beat up a punching bag as opposed to doing burpees, push-ups, and jump rope. Everyday I had a different coach, each with their own training style. Some of them emphasized more footwork while others would throw in more physical conditioning such as medicine ball throws and calisthenics. One of the coaches particularly favored drills where people would partner up and practice punches with each other. The person who wasn't throwing punches of course had mitts on to block the blows.

Two classes in a row. Very sweaty. Check out the Fivefingers.

When classes were over, I would typically stay after and practice on my own. I would spend about 15-30 minutes doing more drills on the bag, coming up with my own combinations, and maybe even practice some jump rope. After that, I would then move on to the speed bag. If you don't know what that is, I took a picture.

A Speed Bag

Here is also a youtube video of how a speed bag works. I can't go as fast as this guy but did manage to reach a consistent speed.

The speed bag was probably one of the most hypnotizing things ever and I loved it. The first day I tried, I had stayed after for an hour punching away. It wasn't too hard and didn't take long for me to pick up and become at least somewhat proficient.

Action shot: playing with the speed bag

My free week at The Ring was a great experience and I really felt like I had learned a lot. The coaches were charismatic and experienced, making their classes even more enjoyable. My only complaint would be the use of conventional muscle isolation methodology for strengthening the core. Every class always ended with an "abs-workout," which most crossfitters know doesn't really provide any functional purpose. Other than that, the Ring is still a great facility.

I would love to become a member of The Ring but I really just can't afford it. I loved the adrenaline rush that I got when punching a bag and even looked forward to some sparring. But Crossfit takes priority, and there's no way I could pull off paying for two separate gyms. Maybe I will continue to box on my own (I know there are boxing bags in the BU gym) and become serious about it in the future. I'll just have to wait and see.


  1. I like the tipped trash cans a lot! Cool pictures too... how'd you take that last black and white action shot?

  2. I found out that my camera phone has all these cool effects. Hence the black and white and aqua. Working out just looks cooler in black and white.