- Jennifer Aniston‘s personal trainer, Leyon Azubuike, opened the first New York City location for his boxing gym Gloveworx in January 2019.
- During a class with Azubuike and coach Dustin Enriquez, I learned about the importance of a dynamic warm-up and regular cardiovascular exercise.
- I also worked one-on-one with Azubuike, throwing punch combinations for 30 minutes in the studio’s ring and breaking a major sweat in the process.
Jennifer Aniston is no stranger to the full-body workout. Her always-rotating fitness routine involves barre classes, at-home yoga DVDs, and spin sessions. So when I learned that one of Aniston’s trainers was opening a boxing gym in New York City, I was game to try it and add a new class to my exercise regimen.
Gloveworx sets itself apart from other studios in that it offers more one-on-one time between trainers and students, something that is difficult to come by in New York City’s boutique fitness scene. At most, there are six people assigned to a coach during each session, so everyone has time to perfect their boxing form and complete an intense workout.
For my class, I, along with five others, worked with Azubuike and coach Dustin Enriquez, both of whom have competed as professional boxers.
Every class begins with an active warm-up to help prevent injuries and get the blood flowing.
Before we started throwing punches, Enriquez led us through an active warm-up, which he said can prevent injuries more effectively than static stretches, like touching your toes.
“An active dynamic warm-up not only gets the blood flowing and increases your core body temperature, but it helps improve the active range of motion that your muscles and joints are able to move through,” Enriquez told me.
One of those dynamic warm-up exercises involved getting into a modified push-up position and, with the help of a plastic slider, creating circles with my arm. During this, I was to hold my core tight and avoid moving the rest of my body.
“The more stable your core is, the more efficient you can move,” Enriquez said.
I also warmed up my quads and glutes with squats.
I also did a series of squats to fire up my glutes and quads. At this point, we were only 10 minutes into class and I was already breaking a sweat. But Enriquez and Azubuike challenged me to perfect my squat form, instructing me to sink lower into the stance while keeping my head up and back as straight as possible.
I held a squat in place, did small pulses, and also did full-range squats to finish off the warm-up.
After reviewing punch combinations, I completed a 30-minute boxing session.
Before getting into the ring, Enriquez demonstrated a jab, cross, front hook, back hook, and duck – the fundamental movements in boxing. Although I’ve taken plenty of boxing classes in the past, I liked reviewing the punches and learning how to perfect my form.
According to Enriquez, this educational approach sets Gloveworx apart from other boxing gyms.
“Many people, when they hear the words ‘boxing gym,’ think traditional, rugged, grungy, getting punched in the face, and all of the negative aspects that are typically associated with what you see in the movies,” he told INSIDER. Gloveworx, on the other hand, believes in acceptance and helping people of all fitness levels achieve their goals, according to Enriquez.
I did series after series of punches, which tested my mental and physical agility.
Once Enriquez made sure I had the form down, I got to work one-on-one with Azubuike. He would call out multiple punches for me to throw until I was doing five- or six-punch combinations.
Unlike other high-intensity workouts that focus on repetition, the boxing-style class allowed me to also work out my brain since I had to think about what Azubuike was saying before executing it.
By the end of the boxing portion of class, which lasted about 30 minutes, I was soaked in sweat and out of breath, but I also felt super accomplished.
“When you feel that crack on the mitts, there is nothing like it,” Enriquez told me. “It builds confidence, perseverance, and discipline while providing an escape from the stresses of everyday life.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
I was also introduced to the VersaClimber, a unique cardio machine.
To work on stamina, a skill Enriquez said is necessary for a boxer, we headed over to the VersaClimber. I had never used a VersaClimber before, but soon after being introduced to the machine, I knew I was in for an experience.
To use the cardio machine, I stood straight up with my feet on the pedals below me and my hands on the handles directly in front of my face. I was then instructed to drive my knees towards my chest one after the other, over and over again: Essentially, I was doing vertical mountain climbers. I did four 30-second rounds on the VersaClimber, which doesn’t sound like much, but left me feeling like I’d done enough cardio to last a year.
Still, Enriquez stressed the importance of incorporating cardio into your workout routines. “Cardio is the cornerstone of fitness, especially for those that are not professional athletes, and high cardiovascular fitness will help you live longer,” he said.
For boxers, Enriquez said cardio is just as important since they compete in three-minute rounds and they have to give their all the entire time.
Following cardio, I performed strength training exercises that didn’t require any weights.
After cardio, we entered the boxing ring again, this time to work on full-body strength. I did lunges, planks, push-ups, and other exercises to strengthen my body. In some cases, like with side lunges, I used a resistance band for extra intensity.
Although a boxer wouldn’t be seen doing lunges in the ring, these exercises improve overall fitness, Enriquez explained, making them perfect for anyone looking to get in better shape.
We ended with core exercises and simple stretches.
The class concluded with a few more ab exercises, including side planks, crunches, and push-ups. We also did some static stretching, which Enriquez said should be reserved for the end of a workout because “your heart rate gets lower and you get into a more relaxed state when you stretch this way.”
When class ended, it was only 7:30 a.m., but I felt refreshed and ready to start my day. As someone who only started taking boxing classes two years ago, I appreciated the friendly and educational approach Gloveworx offered, something I wish I had more access to when I began.
Still, I’m happy to know these types of workouts are available and effective for people of all fitness levels, from the beginner to even the expert boxer.
“It is infinitely progressive and regressive which means that there is always more to learn, no matter how far you progress,” Enriquez said.
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