The gym is my sanctuary, and my teammates are my family. My boxing gym is my home-away-from-home, and I’m lucky to have found the perfect match.
Finding the right boxing gym is no easy task. There are many factors to consider when you look for a new gym, and the task can quickly become overwhelming.
We make the decision process super easy. Here’s how to find a good boxing gym by following a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts.
The Three Do’s
Find a Qualified Instructor
Not all boxers are good teachers. Just because an instructor has won more belts than he has hooks to hang them on, it doesn’t mean he’s a good teacher.
Before you pick a boxing gym, try out a class with the instructor you would see the most. Many boxing gyms offer you a free trial class and you should take advantage of it. After the class, you can mingle and find out what the other students think about the gym, instructors, and teaching style.
Checking out online reviews is also an excellent way to learn if a gyms boxing classes are good and to get a peek at an instructors experience and past accomplishments.
And as strange as it sounds, if you see someone in public who looks like a boxer, strike up a conversation and ask him where he trains. However, take everything with a grain of salt – some gyms have serious grudges with one another and will trash talk their rivals until they’re blue in the face.
Consider all your sources and look at the reviews as a whole, and you should have a good idea of the quality of coaching on offer.
Be an Internet Stalker
Google is your friend. Use it (or any search engine) to find all of the boxing gyms close to you.
Sometimes, you need to search for martial arts, kickboxing, and MMA gyms to get an idea of all the places that offer boxing classes.
If you want to become a boxer, you would be best sticking to a dedicated boxing gym and not attending an MMA gym that also offers boxing classes as an afterthought. However, I have seen martial arts schools with incredible boxing instructors, and even the local YMCA might offer a good boxing class. Leave no stone unturned in exploring your options.
You should also use the internet to get some dirt on the fighters and people who train at your potential gyms.
If a gym has amateur or professional fighters, you can bet they’ll be posting about it on their website or social media. The posts, as well as the general interaction between gym members, will give you an idea what kind of people go to the gym, and what their relationship is like.
At my boxing gym, we’re all like one big family, and we get on like a house on fire.
Pick a Gym That’s Right for You
There are several different kinds of boxing gyms. Some cater to fighters, with a strong focus on preparing fighters for upcoming bouts with plenty of sparring sessions. Whereas other gyms are more “commercial”, and concentrate on offering boxing for fitness.
Many gyms accommodate both groups of people with a segregated area or dedicated classes for their fighters, and boxing themed fitness workouts for the rest of their students.
Hard-core boxing gyms aren’t necessarily better than boxercise gyms, and it comes down to personal preference.
That’s why you need to know your goals.
What do you want from boxing? If you want to fight, don’t settle for a gym that only focuses on boxing for weight loss. Likewise, don’t go to a fighting gym if you have no interest in sparring.
Be clear on your goals and find a gym that meets your needs.
The Three Don’ts
Don’t Be Star-struck
The worst way you can find a boxing gym is to get drawn in by fame.
The lead boxing instructor was on The Ultimate Fighter? Big wow. Mike Tyson’s fifth cousin used to train there? So what.
Having ties to famous people, even famous boxers, doesn’t mean the gym is the right place to teach you boxing. While past performance is usually a good indicator of future performance, there are no guarantees. Trainers may have moved on, or the well-known coaches may only be accessible to the gyms top fighters.
Do your research and find a gym that currently has knowledgeable instructors and a good bunch of students you can work alongside.
Don’t Worry About Appearances
The appearance of a boxing gym has nothing to do with the quality of training. In fact, dingy, little sweatboxes often produce some of the best fighters.
My favorite boxing gym was in an unfinished warehouse. The owner only had hand-me-down heavy bags, jump ropes, and free weights.
If you’re looking for a gym with tons of new exercise machines, brand-spanking-new punch bags, and sparkling wall-to-wall mirrors, you’re not looking for the right things.
Sure, new equipment is great. However, an old, beat-up boxing bag works just as well as a new one.
The quality of instructors and how you gel with them and the other fighters is much more important than top-of-the-line equipment – assuming your aim is to be a better boxer and not just spend time in a place with elegant décor and fancy equipment.
Don’t Commit Too Soon
Finding the right boxing gym is like finding the right marriage partner – it takes time to find the one. As boxing is something you take seriously and are committed to, it’s worth holding out until you find the right boxing gym for you.
Trial a few gyms, take advantage of free trials offered, and don’t be tempted to sign long-term contracts early on in your search.
Even if you love the first class you took, the schedule may not work well with yours or the commute might be too much. Give it some time, and if you can, pay as you train until you’re sure you feel at home in the gym.
The Best Boxing Gym for You
In summary, finding a good boxing gym takes time, and there may be some trial and error involved. Although, there may be many boxing gyms available, the best one for you will depend on your goals, the instructors, location, class times, and about a dozen other factors.
Take your time. Don’t rush the decision, and consider all of the Do’s and Don’ts above. When you find the right gym, you’ll know.
Main picture: dekard72 (flikr)