I've always been obsessed with Gigi Hadid, and the reason is simple: She radiates health. From her glowing complexion to her strong, toned physique, it's clear the Victoria's Secret model is doing right by her body on a daily basis. And as a health editor, I have endless admiration for anyone who puts wellness first.
The past few weeks have delivered perfect temperatures, pastel pink blossoms, and striking blue skies. As I watched the seasons change around me, I packed away my wool sweaters, chopped a few inches off my hair, and ordered a pair of metallic sneakers. While I was at it, I decided to swap my steady diet of yoga and running for something a little more fierce: boxing.
Why boxing? Other than the fact that new boxing studios have popped up all over New York City over the past few months, making it a more accessible workout than ever, boxing is Gigi's workout of choice. In fact, she boxes every single day. Why couldn't I do the same?
So, as part of my spring update, I decided to box every day for a week. Here's what happened.
What the workouts looked like.
"It's all about how hard you work and how much you put in—Gigi is a hard worker," Rob Piela, owner of New York's Gotham Gym and Gigi Hadid's trainer said in an interview with Vogue last year. "Staying fit is all about consistency. Don't miss workout days; don't get lazy in the winter."
I was pretty good at all of the things Rob mentioned—working hard, not missing workout days, and I typically don't get lazy in the winter except on serious snow days. The only thing I was doing differently from Gigi, it seemed, was running and downward dogging instead of boxing.
So I signed up for seven workouts. Three were at boutique boxing gyms—one at Rumble, two at Shadowbox—both of which combine boxing with body-weight exercises, as Gigi's workouts do. The other four were at Circuit of Change, a "mind-body boot camp" that combines kickboxing with yoga and strength training. Each class was 45 to 50 minutes long.
The mental benefits.
The mental benefits of a week spent hitting punching bags were incredible. Maybe it's because I run and do yoga all the time, but usually by the time I finish either of these activities I'm ready for them to be over so I can move on to the next part of my day.
That was not the case with boxing. Something about the rhythm of hitting those bags got me in the zone. I felt like I was getting anger I didn't know I had out, and everything I was worried about seemed to melt away as I jabbed, crossed, and hooked my way through a 45-minute workout session. The best part? When it was over, I was legitimately disappointed. As much as I love working out, that's not a feeling I have often.
Another positive side effect was how well I slept all week. I'm not a good sleeper, and often how well I'm sleeping seems random and completely out of my control. But boxing had a mixed effect of exhausting my body and calming me down—a perfect recipe for a good night's sleep.
Finally, my week of nonstop boxing helped me commit certain moves to muscle memory and helped me feel safer. I don't have to think twice about what an uppercut is anymore. As a woman living in New York City, I'm always a little on edge when it comes to my safety. But having boxing moves in my back pocket that I can use whenever I need to is a comforting thought.
If you ask me, every woman should at least learn basic boxing moves. They can come in handy in a sticky situation.
What happened physically.
I'm not one to go crazy for physical transformations—when it comes to exercise, I'm usually in it for the mental benefits—and I typically don't think physical changes can happen in just a week without doing something really extreme and probably unhealthy. But by Day 4 of my boxing week, I noticed that my upper back and shoulders looked a lot more toned than usual. And those aren't parts of my body that tone up easily! But it made sense because I was really sore in those areas.
My arms and abs looked about the same, and the ab part surprised me. I was doing a lot of pivoting between punches on top of planks during the strength training segments. I didn't mind, though—stronger shoulders in just four days was good enough for me.
A word of caution.
While boxing every day felt great for a week, I was really sore and often wondered if certain moves could lead to injuries down the line. So I consulted personal trainer and 12 Minute Athlete founder Krista Stryker, and she confirmed that boxing probably isn't the best activity to do every single day.
"Just like any form of high intensity interval training, three or four times a week is probably ideal for most people," she tell mbg. "That will give people enough time to rest and recover and also do any other types of resistance training, yoga, or other workouts they enjoy."
If you, too, aspire to get the kick-ass mental benefits of regular boxing, I would suggest working one-on-one with a trainer who can show you exactly how to do certain moves correctly and point out when you're doing them wrong.
And with that, all I have left to say is that everyone should take up boxing. It's an amazing workout, and you'll feel so much stronger mentally.
Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.