Looking to get fighting fit or let out stress in an unconventional way? Louise Ramsay looks into why boxing could be the best way to workout and stay level headed.

Pick up your gloves and duck under the rope, boxing is fighting its way to the top of the fitness chain with incredible results.

While it may bring to mind bloody noses and a chorus of ‘let’s get ready to rumble’, boxing workouts are far away from the televised sport – more focus on form that it’s almost graceful, an emphasis on community it feels more like a home away from home and the addictive nature of feeling stronger with each session. What’s more, it could be one of the best workouts for women over 50.

Boxing coach Emma McCaffery explains, “As we age we lose muscle mass, strength, flexibility, and balance. Boxing helps to reverse this, giving us back what we lose and developing hand-eye coordination and entire body strength. For women over 50, boxing is one of the most complete cardiovascular and resistance workouts. Plus it is a lot of fun – as exercise should be!”

What’s more, boxing is a workout for any fitness level. Emma says, “I may be a coach, but I would honestly recommend boxing to everyone, as it’s FOR everyone. It is a great aerobic exercise, fun sport, social, gets your heart pumping and helps lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can strengthen bones and muscles, burn more calories, and lift mood.

“However, similar to any exercise, if you are returning from specific injuries there are particular moves you might want to avoid and can speak to a coach or expert about amending your workouts. But I would not write boxing or any form of exercise off, as we’re all trying to stay fighting fit.”

While many PTs and coaches are looking to turn the tide over fears of looking ‘bulky’ whilst promoting strength training, there are still groups who worry picking up a weight or pulling on a pair of gloves could do just that.

“Women often fear strength training, a common myth being that it will give them a “bulky” look,” Emma says. “While weight training is actually great for women, and certainly won’t turn you into the incredible hulk, with boxing you don’t have to fret. It will give your muscles tone and definition but not build them.

“I would say that is totally normal as it may feel intimidating to start boxing, but please don’t let that stop you, feel the fear and do it anyway! Ask a friend to come along with you and have a look in your local area for women friendly clubs or women only session if that feels less scary. You never progress if you do not step out of your comfort zone and one of the key benefits of exercising is that it empowers you and gives you confidence.”

It’s that buzz under your skin that keeps you coming back to the bag and punching for longer, harder and feeling your strength grow. For too long, strength training has made us feel like becoming bulky would be the ultimate sin – but in doing so, we’re depriving ourselves the chance to feel powerful and strong. Feeling the itch yet?

Emma shares her advice for those eager to step up to the plate for the first time, saying, “For beginners I would advise clients to avoid some of the more complicated strategic moves and instead make sure you start with the basic moves and technique for: jabs and crosses, hook and upper cuts.

“A lot of the time in boxing fitness classes, you’ll throw arm punches and won’t use your legs and rest of your body, my advice would be don’t throw arm punches! Don’t forget to breathe, don’t break your positioning or stance while throwing punches. B sure to keep your hands up and focus on footwork. It’s as much as a mental workout as it is a physical one.”

Emma grins, “On a personal note, I love boxing as it makes you feel alive and absorbs you in the moment and you are not able to think about anything else. you need to be present or you will get punched (playfully of course!). It is the best and safest stress reliever, you can progress steadily, it makes you feel physically strong and as a by-product, mentally strong.”

“Another cool thing with boxing is the link with the basic primal instincts “fight or flight”. It is the most basic and human interaction between people and it has been around forever. So why shouldn’t more women get involved and start boxing? There’s nothing like feeling powerful yet exhausted after a satisfying boxing workout.

“If you’re looking for a sign to try, consider this it.”