No two boxing classes are the same, or so it seems, as I've recently worked my way around a number of new offerings available in London and around the country. The most recent one was DW Fitness First's new class, SPARR. SPARR is all about high-intensity boxing. Split into four rounds, you have to partner up (I partnered up with another lone attendee) to pound on pads (your partner holds them for you) using specific techniques and skills. It's fast, stress-relieving and hard. But by the end of it, you leave feeling like a boxing champ. Let's delve into it, shall we?
DW Fitness First
I'll admit that walking into the class, I felt nervous. DW Fitness First feels like one of those gyms where everyone knows someone, so going solo meant I not only had to enter a room full of people, well, solo. It also meant I had to find a partner I felt comfortable with, quickly. Lucky for me, another woman looked as nervous as I did, so we teamed up. You're each given a pair of pads and boxing gloves. The main premise of the class is that you swap every round, so you both get an opportunity to punch and be punched.
First of all, you start with a skipping warm-up. I'll admit I'm terrible at skipping (I can't do it—never could and probably never will). But much to my surprise, I was actually able to keep it up for about a minute, and then I just jumped on the spot for the rest of the time. (Hey, it warmed me up, so I'll take it.) As I mentioned, the class is split into four sections, the first being speed. During the speed part, you repeatedly punch the pads as quickly as you can, and then you swap places with your partner. Next comes power, an opportunity to practise using uppercuts.
The third round is agility. This was my favourite round, as I felt warm and ready to put my all into punching. This round requires you to move around your opponent all while using a combination of jabs, uppercuts and hooks. I felt strong, and it may have helped that the instructor complimented me on my technique. The fourth and final round is all about reaction. I'll be honest; I wasn't too quick with this. It required you to focus on where you stepped, to punch the pads while you ducked or took a step to the left, for example. I found it hard to move accordingly and punch while trying to manoeuvre my feet, but by the end of the round, I felt like I'd managed it.
I really enjoyed the class, and not just because I felt like I'd completed a full cardio session. I spoke to people I wouldn't normally have, honed my boxing skills and felt like I had really accomplished something. I went on a Monday evening, so I was able to bash out any stresses from my day and focus for a full hour on me, which doesn't happen often. It was also a lot of fun, and I laughed while working out. After all, it's not often you can laugh through an intense workout, is it?
Psst—below is what I'd wear for a boxing class. You want to be able to move fast and not feel too restricted, so shop my edit below.