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You Talkin' to Me?

Fitness
posted: 02/05/2001

Box your way to better ski balance.

What does every serious boxer have that most skiers wish they had (aside from primo cardiovascular health, lightning-fast reflexes, a chiseled torso, and the self-confidence of knowing that anybody who talks smack about your stem christie is flirting with a serious ass-whipping)? Supreme balance. Think about it: Boxers have to constantly stay centered on their feet, even when they're dodging, weaving, throwing punches, and getting pummeled back. When boxers lose their balance, they go down. So they have to stay centered like a gyroscope.

On the slopes, that kind of balance could mean smooth flow in the bumps, fearlessness in off-piste chop, rock-solid landings on air tricks. But balance like that isn't the kind of thing you can develop with bench presses and ab crunches. You have to cross train in a dynamic, balance-intensive sport. And if you're going to cross train, there ain't no training like a boxer's.

"Boxing is both an aerobic and an anaerobic workout," says Dave Gaudette, owner of Front Range Boxing in Boulder, Colorado. "It really develops a tremendous body awareness."

Start boxing, and it won't take you long to feel that body awareness. Boxers do a lot of work on their basic fitness-they run, jump rope, throw medicine balls around-but it's the punching itself that really develops their athleticism. To throw an effective power punch, you have to harness energy from your feet, legs, and trunk and channel it to your fist. Balance is the key to putting it all together, punch after punch.

The best way to get started is to find a local gym that offers boxing instruction. Don't worry about getting hit: You'll be able to get most of the benefits by working out on the bags alone. Once you feel ready, you can step it up to light sparring in the ring.



GETTING PUNCHY
Stance: Decide whether you're a righty or a southpaw (punch your buddy in the shoulder-which hand feels more coordinated and powerful?). Put your weight on your strong-side foot and take a short step forward with your other foot, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your hands up, protecting your face, elbows tucked in. Bend zee knees.

Jab: Snap your forward hand straight out from the shoulder, rotating your fist palm-side down as you punch.

Straight: With your weight solidly on the ball of your back foot, twist that heel out as you throw your strong hand forward, fist rotating palm-side down, trunk twisting to deliver maximum power.

Hook: Starting with your body twisted toward your weak-hand side, twist your forward heel out and whip your body back around to your strong side, your forward elbow up and away from your body, your fist's palm side pointing toward your own face.

Go to town: Start throwing punches and combinations, checking your form in a mirror. Remember to stay on that back foot and to feel your power flowing from your feet and legs. As soon as you punch, snap that hand back to protect your face. Move your feet, always widening your stance before you narrow it (remember: balance). Bob your head. Duck imaginary punches. Punch back. Do it until you're good and tired.

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