Class crashers: HIIB (High-Intensity Interval Boxing)
‘Laura! Do you fancy trying a boxing class for the mag?’ they said. ‘Sure,’ I replied, naïvely. I’d been to a few women’s boxing classes; a bit of skipping, some bag work, maybe punching pads, a quick circuit. Easy. ‘Great,’ they said. ‘We’ll whizz you over the info.’
Here’s the info: ‘HIIB, or high-intensity interval boxing, is a heart-thumping, body-drenching, boxing-centric workout that’ll leave you exhausted, exhilarated and with the skills of a boxer to boot.’ And they weren’t exaggerating. Twenty-seven minutes into the 30-minute class, my face is puce, veins I didn’t know I had are popping out of my forehead and my muscles are screaming.
The Total Boxer gym is in North London, slap bang in the middle of a suitably gritty industrial estate. The instructor Bobby greeted me and ominously hinted at what was to come: ‘It’s a brutal class, but it’s only 30-minutes,’ he said, before wrapping my hands. I gloved up and he ran me through the punches, footwork and defensive moves we’d use. Then, as people arrived, he passed me a skipping rope, turned up the tunes (The Prodigy) and the class began.
Every session is different, but the premise is the same: half an hour made up of 30-second bouts of intense drills. No breaks. We began by mixing skipping with shadow boxing. Skipping used to be easy, even fun, but it’s exhausting now! At least it’s in quick bursts to motivating music, with clear instructions and plenty of variety, creating the ideal distraction. Next, we ditched the ropes and grabbed hand weights, mixing up squats, planks and sit-ups with more shadow boxing.
Floor work over, we dragged our trembling bodies to the bags. The first circuit? Jumping squats! Three rounds of those interspersed with boxing combinations on the bags. Each time, the 30-seconds of jumping squats seemingly getting longer. Then a round of mountain climbers, and finally – with sweat pouring – Bobby shouted, ‘Burpees!” Burpees’ As the final move in a high-intensity intervals workout? When I do HIIT workouts at home, the burpees are always first. Who does three sets of burpees after 27 minutes of hardcore cardio? Us, it seems. We broke them up with some punching on the bags, where we were told to smash them like our lives depended on it. Mine was swinging like a Parisian showgirl on a chandelier in Moulin Rouge.
We warmed down by jogging on the spot, arms aloft, and sprinting, heads down, until Bobby declared class over. The verdict? The instruction was great, the workout tough but varied. The next day, as I got up, I realised my back muscles had been given the best workout of their lives. I expected soreness in my arms, abs and legs, but this class works every muscle in your body. And don’t you know it.
Classes start at £10 for members, and £15 for non-members. Visit totalboxer.com/hiib
Photographs: Juan Trujillo Andrades