Get Fit The Boxer’s Way

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Vanessa and our instructor Jongi on the "rooftop gym"

There’s something a little out of the ordinary about being on the open rooftop of an inner city building in your workout clothes, a pair of boxing gloves at your feet and a big black man with biceps the sizes of wine barrels singing the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Yesterday afternoon I joined my friends Vanessa and Ilze for a private boxing lesson-something I’ve been promising to do for ages. Having chatted to Vanessa about it for some time, I sort of knew what to expect…but I don’t think my arms did!

We met on the rooftop that adjoins popular Cape Town bar, Tjing Tjing. It was actually the perfect “outdoor gym”. A slight breeze helped in cooling us down throughout the workout and the open space enabled a large area to move around. And move around we did! 

After getting our hands and knuckles bound by our instructor, Jongi Kamko, we donned our gloves and got ready for action. It was at this stage of the session that I felt a small surge of adrenaline rush through my veins.

Jongi took me aside and explained some of the key techniques of boxing. Although a lot of people think that it’s easy to put on a pair of gloves and box, one really needs to be taught the right footing, arm movement and face protection if one wants to do it properly and get the best workout.

Ilze has been boxing for years, so it was no surprise to see her jabbing and moving and pounding away like a pro.

“Have you fought before?” asked Jongi looking at me. Fight? Me? All 5ft2 of me? I laughed.

“No”, I said “look at me, I’m a pathetically small”.

With that, he began to show me how to jab and throw a real punch.

“Power! Show me power!” he shouted.

“Pah…Pah…Pah” he urged me with each loud thwack that hit his blocking pads.

And so it went, moving and jabbing. Left-Right- Left-Right. One- Two- One-Two. Faster and faster. More jabs, this time eight in a row...pah-pah-pah-pah-pah-pah-pah-pah!

It may sound silly to say but once you get into the rhythm, it feels as if some other force has take over your body and strange kind of killer instinct emerges.

Sweat started to drip from my brow and I could feel the thumping in my chest. Boxing is serious cardio and some of the fittest athletes in the world happen to be boxers. Their endurance and strength is something to be revered.

We finished the session with some ab work- crunches and sit-ups, and then a few arm exercises which looked much easier than they were. We had to hold our arms out straight to the sides in line with our shoulders and flick our fingers in and out like ‘twinkling’ stars.

I don’t think I’ll be facing Baby Jake anytime soon -but after yesterday’s experience, boxing has very quickly made its way onto my list of new favourite workouts!

A bit about our instructor: Jongi, a world class boxer in his own right, runs a boxing school in Khayelitsha called Grassroots Boxing Academy where he coaches youngsters and infuses them with his passion for the sport. For lessons you can contact Jongi on 084 849 5147 (He’s really not as scary as he looks!!)

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