How To Start Boxing – What you need to know

boxing gloves

Boxing gyms are gaining popularity in the fitness industry as people are starting to realize it’s a fun, full-body workout that burns a TON of

calories. If you are thinking about joining a boxing gym either for fitness or you are interested in sparring and competing I’m sure you have some questions.

Most people have never stepped foot in a boxing gym, and it’s reasonable to be a little nervous. I was in your position only a couple of years ago, and I promise that you will be glad you took this first step. There are common questions I hear regarding how to start boxing, and I’ll do my best to help you walk in confidently on your first day.

I Am Not In Very Good Shape, Is That Okay?


If you are new to a gym or boxing class, no one is expecting you to be in pro fighting shape. After coaching for a year, I have realized there is not a lot you can do to prepare for an intense, full-body, boxing workout.

I have seen many students walk in on the first day confident in their ability to out-work the rest of the class. Regardless of how fit they thought they were, everyone walks out exhausted and covered in sweat. It’s a type of exercise you have most likely never experienced, and you must expect to be tired.

With this being said, don’t let that hold you back. Trainers and coaches understand that you are there to improve. As long as you show up each session and work hard, you will earn the respect of trainers and others in your class.

The Different Types Of Boxing Gyms

The two main types of gyms you will find if you do an online search will be fitness boxing gyms and sparring/competing boxing gyms. It is important to understand the difference between the two, so you can make an informed decision on which suits your needs, so you’re not surprised when you show up.

  • Fitness gyms: These are based entirely around interval training, you will do a different exercise every round (2 or 3 minutes long with a minute rest) until the allotted time is up.
    • Classes in these gyms are increasingly popular and are a super fun way for people to achieve a fast yet effective workout.
    • It can be a great workout but realize the trainer at a fitness gym may have never stepped in a ring and runs the class for fitness purposes only. Which is perfectly fine if you are only looking for a fat-burning workout.
    • If you are planning on competing in the future, this is an excellent way to get in shape and train the proper muscles before you step in the ring. Although… since the trainer may be less informed about proper form and technique, you could develop some bad habits that can take a long time to train out of you.
  • Sparring/Competing Gyms: These gyms will allow you to step in the ring and put your skills to the test against another person your size and experience.
    • Competing gyms have a much more serious atmosphere because boxers are there to compete and will train very hard to gain the edge against their opponents. Don’t let this scare you. Sparring is a great rush and can be incredibly rewarding and fun.
    • Form and proper technique will be stressed much more here than at a fitness gym to prevent injury and give a competitive edge.
    • If competing is your primary goal, you will have access to the resources at this type of gym to properly prepare and find registered fights to compete in
    • Just because sparring is an option at a competing gym, many will still offer non-contact classes similar to a fitness gym as well as full access to the equipment.
      • If you have any questions on what classes are available, call your local gym and ask some questions.
  • University Gyms: Many universities are beginning to form boxing clubs due to the increasing popularity of the fitness side of the sport. Many students who never had an opportunity in high school can experience boxing through a low cost, low commitment membership at their university’s club.
    • For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where I currently attend college and had the opportunity to be club Captain) has a large boxing club with multiple practices per week. These classes are for all levels of experience and allow training for fitness as well as competition opportunities.
    • These can be a great resource to get your foot in the door before committing to a more serious boxing gym. Each university will vary on what is offered, so do your research to see if this is a viable option for you!


You will most likely be a little intimidated starting out at a new gym … but that is perfectly normal. Just remember everyone started in your position and you are there to improve.

No gym should force you to spar, and they ALL should preach safety and constant improvement. Any legitimate boxing gym should make you feel safe and offer an encouraging atmosphere. If it doesn’t, discuss your concerns with the trainer or find a new gym. There are many excellent options out there.

What Equipment Do I Have To Bring?

Equipment requirements vary by the gym, so you have to do some searching on their website, almost all gyms will provide this information online.

From my experience, most gyms provide all boxing gear you need except hand wraps (which are typically sold at the gym for under $10) and mouth guards (if you plan on sparring). This includes gloves, pads, headgear, and groin protectors.

Shoe requirements vary gym by gym. Some require only athletic shoes while others may allow you to train barefoot, as is the case with my University’s Club. Boxing shoes are an excellent investment if you start getting serious about sparring but will most likely not be required initially at any gym.

Make sure you wear athletic clothes you aren’t afraid to sweat through!



Before you decide to start boxing, you should realize that no one expects you to be in great shape showing up, that’s why you are here, to IMPROVE. You should look into gyms near you to determine which fits your needs the best. You need very minimal equipment to start, so don’t expect a large investment in equipment. Assuming you already own athletic clothes, you should only need to spend around $10 on hand wraps to start.

Most importantly … If you ever feel unsafe in your gym, you need to stop and talk to your trainer or change gyms. Although boxing can be a fun alternative to traditional cardio and training, it has serious risks that can be significantly minimized with proper care.

Hopefully, I have answered some questions and concerns that you’ve had regarding how to start boxing. I hope you feel more confident in starting your first class or lesson.

Train hard! You will be glad you did.

Please feel free to leave a comment for any questions, concerns, or additional input you may have!

I hope this helps,