Boxing is not all tracksuits and selfies

It might seem easy, but it’s not all fun and games

The+front+of+the+Glendale+Fighting+Club

Rita Bilamejian

The front of the Glendale Fighting Club

Rita Bilamejian, Business Manager

As someone who dreaded PE class and other activities that required exercise, I found myself willing to try out boxing due to the sport’s immense popularity. After a long and tiring day of school, I decided boxing classes would help keep me in shape and promote a healthier lifestyle.   

After weeks of planning to go boxing with my cousins, the day had finally come.

As the days got closer, I began to regret the decision. Not having PE for nearly two years, I had become immensely inactive. A simple flight of stairs could cause my heart rate to pound heavily against my chest. I feared the embarrassment that would come as others watched me pass out during the first few minutes of training.

Rita Bilamejian

By the time 7 p.m. arrived, the time the boxing classes started, I could barely stand up straight because I was so tired from school. As I drove into the parking lot in front of the Glendale Fighting Club, a wave of heat hit my forehead. I instantly regretted the decision I had made as the class was composed of mostly men who were so strong that they could wipe me out with a single punch. I had thought that more women would be involved in the class. In fact, according to a Sport England survey, 40 percent of boxing classes are for women only and 20,500 women box every week.

Still sitting in the car, I attempted to persuade my cousins and my mother to drive me back home. My cousins persuaded me to go in and pointed to the eight year old girl who was boxing against the punch bag. “If she can do it then so can you,” said my cousin Aren Barsikhian.

After much nudging, my cousins as well as my mother were able to bring me in. As I walked into class I instantly felt out of place. As a girl who loves to shop and hates anything that has to do with sweating, I wondered what had gotten me in this position in the first place. Because more celebrities post themselves boxing they have “helped to generate awareness and excitement around a workout that has long been considered intimidating and inaccessible,” wrote Popsugar writer Dominique Astorino. Instagram posts of models like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid looking fabulous in their training gear while boxing with their trainers was far from reality. When I saw the men sweating as they boxed and ferociously looking at their target, I was obviously expecting something way different when I signed up.

The room was filled with people with many different ages: as young as eight and as old as fifty. However, the biggest gap was in gender, as the girls were outnumbered by the men by eight to one, approximately. I was extremely shocked by this because of the popularity of boxing. True, boxing has been seen by some as a masculine sport, but it has gained momentum throughout the years especially in teenagers and girls. According to Hello Magazine, online sportswear store Fashersice has seen a 130 percent increase in the sales of boxing gloves since last year.

Due to the padded floor, everyone had to take of their shoes and socks. As I saw the wet feet and sweat marks on the floor, I was very disgusted. I regretted buying the new sneakers that now stood against the wall the whole time.  

Like any other sport, we began to warm up. I dreaded this part of the class the most as it felt like a waste of time, when really it wasn’t. We started running in circles around the room and later did some push ups and sit ups. “It’s really important not to miss the warm-up,” said my cousin Aren Barsikhian. “Once I missed it and I felt sore all of class.” It had been ten minutes since we started and I was ready to go home and take a shower. But it was only the beginning. After warming up, training began. Since it was still my first time, the trainer provided me with the boxing gloves that protected my fingers and knuckles. Seeming easy to put on, it was actually hard to put my hands in the gloves at first because I did not know where to put my fingers. With much difficulty I was finally able to put them on, but it was no use as I had already endured the humiliation. As the trainer told me to hit the pads he was holding I hit them with all my force. However, I soon realized that all my punch was a mere tap at his gloves.

As I continued punching the trainer’s gloves, my knuckles and hands began to ache. The gloves did not seem to have a use because I could feel my skin tearing against the thick fabric. It was obvious that I was new to the whole boxing idea, or even even exercise as a whole. After completing the one-on-one punching activity with the trainer, we moved onto the boxing bags.

“It is way harder than it seems,” said Harout Barsikhian, my cousin who came with me to practice. He was right. In movies, it seems that the boxing bag is filled with air and, with one punch, the bag will fly across the room. However, it takes an enormous amount of force to simply make the boxing bag slightly swing to one direction. I tried punching the bag a couple of times but saw that it was no use because the bag moved an inch, barely. Knowing I had no other option but to keep punching, I kept on hitting the bag until the trainers called time.

After completing the activities with the punching gloves, I was ready to go home and sleep for days. However, it was still not over. The trainers called for another round of situps and pushups. I could not feel my hands and legs. I kept thinking whether I should pretend to faint to get out of it, but I soon decided that I should push through because fainting would simply prolong my way home. Completing the last few sit ups, this session had been the longest hour of my life.

The walk to the car was very satisfying; I was not only going home but had completed an hourlong session of a boxing class. While my cousins mocked the weary faces I would make during the lesson, they too were exhausted. “I didn’t think it would be this hard,” said Harout Barsikhian. “I knew it would be tiring but I didn’t expect that completing the lessons would be that big of a challenge.”

When I finally went home, I felt relieved yet proud.“Boxing is a therapy,” Astorino wrote. “The women who have tried boxing are hooked.” Although it was a long hour, I felt that if I continue the lessons, I would feel much healthier, no matter how sore I would be the next day.