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The mental health benefits of boxing

The physical benefits of boxing have long been glorified by sporting professionals around the world, but while the sport is sure to do wonders for your fitness, strength and physique, there are greater benefits to be explored for our mental health and focus. 

There’s a reason why boxing-inspired workouts are taking over gyms and classes across the country. Less than an hour in some gloves will leave your heart racing, blood pumping and body dripping from head to toe. Endorsed by fitness experts everywhere, boxing is one of the most efficient and beneficial workouts you can put your body through.

But for the average boxer, it’s not all about sporting washboard abs and packing a powerful punch. Professional and amateur boxers owe their laser-sharp focus and disciplined mental state to the hours spent in the gym. Boxing at its core is an art form, albeit an intense one. Of course, the almost-molecular level of focus achieved by professional boxers holds an entirely different purpose than just coping with stress. In the ring, if your focus wavers by even a second, you risk a fist in your face, ribs, stomach or neck. The athletes are trained to not only function but thrive in survival mode

Boxing is as much a mental workout as it is a physical one, but while an intense session pushing you to your cardio limits may leave your muscles aching the next day, it will also leave you feeling mentally refreshed, refined and ready to tackle your week. 

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There’s more to the sport than knockouts and training montages

I’ve watched the better part of boxing fights on TV with my partner (a long-time boxing fan with multiple fights, trophies, and hours in the gym to his name), and been absolutely floored by the results. I’m usually left wondering how the shorter, slimmer, and less experienced fighter manages to come out on top, in true Rocky fashion. 

“It’s not about any of that,” I’m told. “He just wants it more, needs it more.”

But the mainstream movies and multi-million dollar commercialised fights between the big names don’t quite paint the complete picture when it comes to the sport. Boxing has, and always will be, about more than just fighting. At an elite level, boxers will push their bodies and minds to extreme states, training in gruelling conditions for months before any big fight. They’ll isolate themselves from their families and friends, deeming anything outside the ring a distraction that could cost them a victory. 

It’s a process that’s inspired some of the best training montages in Hollywood, but while the hardship can sometimes be justified by a knockout victory, it’s not a method most people can embrace in their own lives. Professional boxers emerge from their training seasons with laser-sharp focus and drive, a benefit almost anyone can unlock in much more attainable circumstances. 

Rachel Ashton is a Master Instructor for Rumble Boxing, where each class is designed to streamline your focus and fitness, opening up the benefits of boxing to absolutely anyone, regardless of their experience level. According to Ashton, stress, frustration and self-doubt are usually your true opponents in the ring, not the glove-bearing individual (or bag) facing you. 

“Boxing is a great way to physically stay active and improve your fitness, but just as importantly, it’s a way to box any frustrations away, which is fantastic for mental health,” explains Ashton, seeing more and more studios across Australia book out each session, finding the 45-minute workouts are embraced by busy working Aussies throughout the week. 

“It’s more than just a sport, it can help you in other areas of your life, by developing strength– physical and mental–, toughness, resilience and discipline,” explains Ashton. “Boxing creates confidence and confidence leads to happiness, it’s a win-win.”

The ultimate workout, inside and out

As esteemed Olympic boxer Harry Garside told Body+Soul earlier this year, “Boxing has humbled me when I needed to be humbled. [Boxing] has taught me respect for others, and most importantly respect for self.”

“Boxing’s one of those sports where you don’t need to be rich and you don’t need to have all this equipment. You just need a good attitude and work ethic,” he adds. 

But you don’t need to have qualified for an Olympic Games to understand the power a high-intensity boxing session can have on your body, mind and spirit. For Ashton, the short-term euphoria and long-term benefits can be seen on the (red) faces of each of her clients exiting a session guided by her team of expert coaches. 

“Our coaches are some of the most inspiring fitness instructors around, they step onto the Rumble podium as part DJ, part motivational speaker and complete Master of Ceremony and they will leave you feeling better, stronger and in a better head space than when you entered the studio,” says Ashton. “You’ll never regret a Rumble workout, but you will regret missing one!”

Whether it’s about making the most out of time away from the kids at witching hour, mentally preparing your mind for a tough day in the office, or beating the life out of a bag (because to do so to your ex would warrant your arrest), there’s a good reason for everyone to switch up their routine with a little boxing. But don’t just take my word for it, slip on some gloves and find out for yourself. 

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