How to Get Into the Right Headspace for Boxing
Hint: You don’t have to be angry.
By Catherine Hopkinson•
Jab, cross, jab, hook, slip, cross…wait, what?! Starting a new fitness program can be daunting, even if it’s something that seems relatively simple, like walking or running. And if it’s something complex, like shadowboxing, where you have to think about footwork and hand placement and the order of moves in a combination—and it’s all brand-new to your brain—it can be truly intimidating. But we can do hard things! And Peloton boxing instructors Rad Lopez and Becs Gentry have all the advice you need to get going.
Take it Easy at First
“We all started somewhere,” says Rad, a learned boxer himself. “Boxing will humble you, just like yoga humbles me. But shying away from it isn’t going to make you any better. Tackle it head on. Go into it with a student’s mindset: willing to make mistakes and learn in order to become better.”
Becs advises Members who may be a little nervous to try the Get Hooked program or take her classes, which she says are shorter and more beginner-level. “There is so much coordination and concentration required—we all know this isn't something I am renowned for being great at,” she admits. “However, taking it slowly and practicing as much as you can will help.”
Focus & Visualize
So let’s say you’ve settled on a class to jump into. How do you get into the right headspace to be successful? Some might think it would be helpful to have an opponent in mind, maybe even tap into any anger you might be holding onto in order to release it. But the instructors say there’s no need. “You don’t need to be angry to have something to fight for,” Rad says. “It might add a little more fire to your practice, but it’s not necessary whatsoever.”
Becs agrees, adding: “Openness is the best attitude. We want to be focused and open to these workouts. They are going to challenge you, and they will require you to have patience with your progress.”
You’ll want to prepare for class in some way though. How do our instructors do it? Rad says about his fighting days: “I would visualize myself executing my game plan to perfection. I’d dance to ease the pressure; I’d make it fun and remind myself of how good I am. Confident.” Gotta remember that footwork!
Becs has a routine too: “I psyche myself up mentally with music and with movement before class—I want to feel relaxed and ready to roll through a shadowboxing class. When I was training in boxing and MMA, I would focus my mind by doing this in front of a mirror in order to make eye contact with myself. This always brings me to the present moment and allows the opportunity to encourage my body and mind.”
Talk to Yourself
Mantras can also be motivating, both to psyche up for a class and also to sustain yourself through a session. Rad is a big fan of “I got this”—and you’ll probably hear him telling you “you got this” in any given class in case you forget. Becs has a couple of different mantras that she keeps coming back to: “I find myself saying ‘Come on’ a great deal and ‘Slow down’—the first being a motivator and the second being a discipliner. Encouraging myself to continue through that shoulder/arm ache is real, even when teaching! I tell myself to slow down because I tend to lose form when I start to speed up my punches, and that is not something we want.”
Oh, and about that ache. It’s important to realize that this will be challenging. “When you first start a shadowboxing class—especially if you're new to it—you are going to experience a whole new fatigue. Acknowledging and accepting this is hugely important to your progress in boxing,” says Becs. “Allowing yourself grace to be tired, to be exhausted, is fabulous. Do it all with a smile and you'll be flying in no time!”
When you’re starting out, it’s also helpful to remember what you can achieve by engaging in a new fitness practice like shadowboxing. Rad is a big believer in the benefits of boxing in particular and wants Peloton Members to feel like they’ve learned something new, refined their shadowboxing skills, and can carry the lessons learned in class with them into their everyday life. “Boxing has given me so much discipline, self-awareness, and confidence,” he says, “all traits that have helped me grow as a human, and without it I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Ready to experience the benefits of shadowboxing? Try a class on the Peloton App today!