What to Look for in Boxing Gyms

Martial sports have become ever more popular as a means of staying in shape, especially the intense workouts associated with boxing. As the trend has progressed, more people have begun taking a second look at boxing as a serious martial art. Others want to move beyond mere "boxercise" and into something more demanding. The result is a growing interest in real boxing gyms, the sorts of places where everyone from amateurs to hardened journeymen boxers go to train their bodies and hone their skills. However, not all boxing gyms are as good as the legendary Gleason's of Brooklyn; many boxing gyms have a laissez-faire attitude toward their patrons. Unlike at a health club, after new customers pay the gym dues, they are more or less on their own. This makes knowing what makes for a good boxing gym very handy, and perhaps even crucial.

The basics
The first thing to look at in a boxing gym is the equipment. A good gym should have multiple heavy bags; a few double-end bags; at least one speedball platform; full-length mirrors; open floor space for shadowboxing, stretching, jumping rope and doing calisthenics; medicine balls; an incline board for ab work and at least one small ring. A loud boxing timer is standard, and other articles of equipment are gravy. If the gym does not have free weights, do not let that concern you. Old school boxing discourages weightlifting since it is bad for flexibility and fluidity.

There are some things that many are accustomed to having in health clubs that might not be present in a boxing gym. Think you're going to find a locker room or shower on site? Not necessarily. A good boxing gym is a place that is all business and light on luxury.

A boxer's main considerations
For a person who already knows how to box, the primary concern is free use of the boxing gym. If you are already a boxer, being stuck with a gym that only allows you to use the gym inside  class schedule is extremely confining. This is the problem with boxers trying to use most health clubs. With the popularity of boxercise programs, many health clubs and sports gyms have some boxing equipment, but they generally only allow use of the equipment during their boxercise classes. For an already-trained boxer, that is frustrating and counterproductive.

What a person who already knows how to box needs from a boxing gym is flexibility. He needs to be able to come in, work out on his own, freely arrange sparring or punch mitt time with his training partners, and arrange for time with a trainer if he so desires. All of this can be done working around a boxing gym's class schedule, if necessary, but none of it can be done within a class schedule. A boxing gym that offers only structured classes is not for the person who already knows how to box.

A beginner's main considerations
Beginners have very different needs from the veteran boxer, simply because they need to be taught how to box. A real professional fighter's gym is not very likely to have the one thing most beginners need: structured classes. While some of the bigger pro boxing gyms have started offering classes, many still do not.

What a novice needs to do is learn the fundamentals of boxing, and the most cost-effective way of doing that is through boxing classes. Classes also offer the advantage of putting beginners together with their own kind, creating a readymade pool of potential training and sparring partners on roughly the same skill level. However, what a beginner should want are boxing classes at a boxing gym, not boxercise classes at a health club.

Without classes, a novice must turn to hiring a boxing trainer. All pro boxing gyms will have trainers hanging around, and many are looking for more students. However, hiring one means hiring a personal trainer, with all the expense that involves. For learning the fundamentals, those costs are excessive. So, for the beginner, picking a boxing gym should be all about classes, classes and classes.

This is not to say that the needs of an experienced boxer and a beginner are mutually exclusive. There are boxing gyms that cater to both, charging basic dues for use of the facility, but also offering structured classes and charging extra for them. The important thing is to match requirements to features when choosing a boxing gym. 

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