Life Lessons From A Boxer

Editors Note: This is a contribution from Jay Bowers of Jay’s Fitness Blog.

Boxing is an amazing workout. Whether you simply hit the bag for 10 minutes a few times a week, do some kind of conditioning class in the gym which integrates punching or actually practice in a real boxing gym the workout is unrivalled. Your shoulders, back, abs and pretty much the whole body get a great conditioning workout. As well as this boxing is probably one of the best ways to improve your fitness as it is a natural form of interval training.

If you follow my blog you have probably heard me rant and rave about the greatest sport ever: boxing.  Some call it old-fashioned, others call it suicide.  I call it life.  Here are some life lessons I learned in the ring:

Lesson #1:  Practice right

The single most important bit of advice my boxing coach ever gave me was simple.  “Act like the bag hits back.” That’s it.  But somehow, my boxing abilities improved exponentially after he told me that.  Instead of doing my regular routine every Tuesday and Thursday and mindlessly whaling on the inanimate heavy bag, I began to visualize the bag as an opponent.  I went from a state of unconsciousness to consciousness.  I started imagining what my opponent might do, then I would work on countering it.

When it came time to actually spar with a real-life person I would be much more prepared.  Why?  Because I practiced for the real thing.  Because I visualized myself in a real-life scenario, my focus during practice was tenfold its normal strength and my practice sessions were much more intense (and fruitful).  Going through the motions isn’t enough.  Practicing right means visualizing success, then consciously taking actions that will make it happen.

Lesson #2:  Practice often

Consistency is King. This applies to anything.  If I go one week without boxing, I fall behind.  If you want something to get done or change in your life, you have to take some sort of action – consistently.  Rome wasn’t built-in a day, and neither was my body.  I remember when I started working out.  I was the puny little kid that looked like a stick figure next to the other guys at the gym.  I’ll never forget what one guy told me in that first year (I called him Action Figure at the time because that’s exactly what he looked like).  I saw Action Figure coming up to me and I immediately put down my 15lb dumbbells to grab some 30′s (even though I couldn’t lift them). Unimpressed, Action Figure grabbed some 90′s, pumped out a set, then looked at me. “Son,” he said.  ”How long you been working out?”  I told him it had been almost a year.  ”Wanna know the secret to getting big?  Stick with it.  I’ve been in here for ten years.”  I wanted to say something to the extent of “I can tell – you are a freaking hulk,” but I refrained.  Instead, I digested his words and applied them.  Almost ten years later, here I am telling you the same thing – stick with it.

Lesson #3:  Practice hard

Normally, I’m a pretty laid back person.  I rarely get into verbal jousts and only got in a fist fight once (technically more of a slap fight but we’ll go with the former in sake of retaining my manhood).  When I hit the boxing gym, all this changes.  I go primal.  It’s purely in the name self-preservation; if I don’t I get pounded.  That’s why I practice – HARD.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. – Muhammad Ali

You can practice often and practice right, but if you aren’t practicing hard you aren’t going to go far. You will see initial results, sure.  But what I’m talking about are exponential results. Practicing hard is the difference between losing 10 pounds in a year… or a month.  This is a pretty obvious point:  everyone knows if you work harder you get results faster.  What you may not realize, though, is how practice intensity acts like compound interest.  If you practice hard for two weeks, you may see a tiny improvement over if you had practiced at a medium intensity.  If you practice hard for a year, you are going to see a huge difference.  Want exponential results? Make every day count.

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