Knock yourself out

Zarelda Marie Goh learns that boxing is one kickass workout, thanks to the fancy footwork and serious punches.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Zarelda Marie Goh learns that boxing is one kickass workout, thanks to the fancy footwork and serious punches. 

<b>photo</b> Vernon Wong
<b>photo</b> Vernon Wong

You may think that boxing is a man’s sport. after all, the greatest professional fighters in the world are men – the late muhammad ali, manny pacquiao, Floyd mayweather... the list goes on. 

But the sport has also been growing in popularity among celebrities and models. Kim Kardashian, Gigi hadid, and adriana Lima are just a handful who swear that boxing is a fantastic way to stay in shape. 

Curious about its effectiveness as a workout, i jumped at the chance to check out a recently launched all-female boxing class at Juggernaut Fight Club. 

What’s unique is that the class is conducted by Singapore’s first professional woman boxer Nurshahidah roslie. She trains at Juggernaut herself, and her biggest achievement to date is snagging the 2016 Universal boxing Organisation intercontinental super featherweight title. 

In fact, Nurshahidah initiated starting the all-female boxing class because she wants to “encourage more women to learn boxing and show that it isn’t just a sport for men”. this class focuses on boxing for fitness, without the sparring component. 

I attended it with Shape writer Dawn and Caron, who heads our sales and marketing team. the session began with Nurshahidah teaching us the proper way to stand. Since all of us are right-handed, she taught us the orthodox stance, where we spread our feet shoulder-width apart, with knees slightly bent, and then placed our left legs in front with the right slightly behind. 

As for our hands, we had to bring them up to our chins and make fists, with our lefts placed a little further in front than our rights. as a warm-up, we jumped from one end of the gym to the other while holding this posture. We did this repeatedly for only several minutes, but were sweating buckets by end of it! For a brief moment, i wondered if i would survive the entire hour-long class. 

Then, we got into drills for footwork and punches. this is where things got more interesting. While in boxing stance, we learnt how to move forward and backwards, and to the left and right. We had to move quickly, following Nurshahidah’s cues. We partnered each other to practise moving swiftly. 

One person would move in any direction and the other had to move accordingly to complement her position. if your partner moved backwards, you’d have to move forward; if she moved to the left, you’d have to move to your right, and so on. this forced me to really focus because i didn’t know what my partner would do next. 

The drills for punches were similar. We were taught two basic punches – the jab and the cross. in the former, our lead fists (in our case, that’s our left fists) are thrown straight ahead with the arms fully extended. the latter is where the dominant hand is used to throw a punch instead, and this move required us to rotate our hips forward since the right hand was slightly behind in the boxing stance. 

For partner work, one person would lift either hand and we had to react by lightly punching the hand that goes up. the person also had the option of raising both hands, and we’d then have to react with two punches – a jab and a cross.  

The drills took up most of our session and we were quite fatigued by then. I hadn’t realised how much of a mind and body workout boxing was. We weren’t just working out physically, but mentally too as we had to anticipate our partner’s movements while practising the boxing drills. 

Nurshahidah’s a stickler for proper technique and told us at the beginning of the class that getting the fundamentals right in boxing is the most important thing. She said, “the basics are easy to pick up, but difficult to master.” i totally believe her. We learnt just a few simple moves, but it was hard to maintain the correct posture throughout while executing each move with precision. 

After the drills, there was high-intensity interval training (hiit) to end the class. We were really tired by then, but pushed on with a variety of bodyweight moves, like push-ups, mountain climbers and jump squats. this portion of the class was to help further condition the body.  

Needless to say, we were spent after the boxing class, and it was definitely a total- body workout. i liked that Nurshahidah was encouraging and gave clear instructions. it was also an honour to take a class by a professional boxer! 

My arms, abs and butt ached the next day, but i’d do this again. as an avid runner, who completed a full marathon a few months ago, i thought that running was the most brutal exercise you could put your body through. after this class, boxing comes in a close second, for sure.