Power of the Punch

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Art of Fitness
Instructor Brandon Padilla leads his BoxFit class at Laguna’s Art of Fitness gym.

Boxing classes offer an exciting, full-body workout that can relieve stress, too.

By Briana Verdugo

Sweat drips onto the floor as heavy bags swing, carrying the momentum of powerful jabs and kicks. The sound of fists and feet hitting punch mitts melodically intermingles with heavy rock music that reverberates off the walls and feeds into the intensity of the moment. In the center of this flurry of activity, the instructor tweaks techniques and demands that you hit harder, kick through and let loose. This is the scene at Laguna’s Art of Fitness gym and inside the studio where instructor Brandon Padilla leads his BoxFit class, a unique workout that requires equal parts athleticism and enthusiasm—and that not only induces sweat but also relieves tension.

Unlike many other boxing or kickboxing classes available at gyms, where attendees are tasked with awkward, choreographed moves when all they really want to do is punch something, during Padilla’s workout, there’s no nonsense. Rather, visitors to the class are encouraged to use simple techniques and focused movement to get the most out of their workout. Beyond being a unique stress reliever, the BoxFit course taught by Padilla offers endurance-building cardio, muscle-strengthening calisthenics and distinct boxing and kickboxing practices that work many muscle groups. And, if fitness benefits are not enough of a draw, after an hour of punching and kicking, you’re bound to leave feeling like the toughest version of yourself.


Laguna Beach Magazine: How did you learn to box?

Brandon Padilla: One of my best friends, his dad was a really good amateur boxer. [He] did it through college—I believe he got his … [scholarship] that way—and I used to train with his son … .


What is the difference between boxing for fitness and competitive boxing in a ring?

BP: You want to train to get fit, not to get punched. If you go to a real boxing gym someplace, they’re going to have fighters. They’re going to put you in that ring with their fighters as, like, fodder. You’re going to get hit more than you’re going to do anything else. “… You’re going to get hit in the head, you’re going to get concussions, you’re going to get messed up, you’re not going to get paid [and,] if you get hurt, it’s too bad. And then what? You’re going to get hurt for no reason other than this guy [is] getting to practice beating somebody up for the ring. … If you’re just looking for fitness, do … [BoxFit].


How does boxing help people get in shape?

BP: If you’re doing everything right, … you’re pushing everything, everything in the front is working. And, after you make contact, you should contract everything on the way back just as hard as you went out. So, if you can imagine someone throwing a punch, then they let it hang and then they slowly bring it back, it’s not going to look as crisp as when it comes out and then comes right back. So it’s symmetrical: you push out, you pull in. I always have people switch hits—switch their stance—so, that way, you’re using power on both sides. You’re not getting any imbalance or we’re minimizing the imbalance. And it’s whole-body, you’re contracting for that punch. Otherwise, you would push yourself backward, so … everything has to be tight for the contact, that balance to bring it back. … You have to have that balance for punching, and of course the knees and the kicks completely change it. And [boxing] takes a lot of cardio. In the ring, we call it wind—either you can keep breathing, or you can’t. So … [it works] everything.


What are your smaller classes like?

BP: If I have, like, two people, it will be mostly instruction because I’m going to work you so hard. … We can work on technique, we can really dial things in and when people come back, … [they say,] “I feel it.”


If a person starts attending boxing classes, what sort of changes will they begin to feel in their body?

BP: Even for people who work out all the time, [this class] is different … the gloves only weigh a pound, typically, at the heaviest. … However, just that 1 pound, moving around for an hour will make all the difference. It’s a small motor unit, not a high motor unit like lifting a lot of weights, and if you haven’t been using that motor unit … you’re going to feel it.


Beyond working toward or improving physical fitness, are there any other reasons why you’d recommend that people take a BoxFit class?

BP: Nothing will relieve tension and stress like this [class] will. … Come hit the bags, come hit the instructor and feel better about things.


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