Boxing bootcamp can be tough at best, but add a Nike master trainer into the mix and what you have is something so mind-boggling hard it can land you in hysterics at the end of the session. A dangerous place to be, if you’re threatened with two minutes of burpees for not keeping pace.
But the reason why I’m at the Equinox gym just off High Street Kensington (which is just about the best gym I’ve been in – all art deco glass wall tiles, masses of space and a five-star slick changing room) is Sonja Moses.
I first spotted her name in the Nike fitness app I use religiously, and after further enquiry her name came up as one to ask about boxing.
At the start of the session, I wonder if this is true as we begin a sedate jog around the room. Oh you fool, I think later. This gentle run turns into a quicker sprint with high kicks and then we stop.
Only we don’t. Sonja divides the room in two, and while half the room does skipping, the rest do burpees.
Burpees – for those of you lucky enough to not know – begin with a standing position, jumping back into plank, jumping back into standing and adding a jump at the end. They are bloody knackering which is why their announcement is always accompanied by a long groan.
I’m in the burpees team, and there’s no slowing down. When it looks like we might be, Sonja keeps us going and urging us on. Skipping is starting to look really good right now.
When I start the skipping – panting like a dog – it turns out that my technique is more hop-scotch than Rocky. Skipping is also bloody hard.
At the end of this round, I expect a break. But at some point in my life I also expected a pony, and similarly – this doesn’t arrive.
We head straight into press-ups. “Down, up, down!” says Sonja, and we do a mixture of normal press-ups, holding at the top and at the bottom.
At we lie there panting on the floor, the only way I can tell I haven’t died is that my life hasn’t flashed before my eyes, and I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign.
As we peel ourselves up off the floor, we take a short break (thank GOD) and then we’re asked to partner up.
I’m with Louise – who manages to push me through despite my whinging. We take turns on the bag. While one of us does push-ups, the other does very fast punching on the bag for about 20 seconds, and then we swap, bumping fists as we go.
It’s very hard, high intensity training, and although I can’t gauge how much we’re burning, the sweat is literally pouring down. In any given class like this, you’re easily burning through about 500 calories.
After that, we do a bout of sparring, so one person on the pads while the other is punching. A mixture of right and left jab, right hook and knee kick has our heart rates up again in no time.
I seriously don’t know how much more I can do.
“You need to keep the pace fast and regular,” says Sonja, “because if I see you punching half-heartedly, that’ll be two minutes of burpees for everyone.”
Yes, that works as motivation.
Somehow, Louise and I get through the session. Also, holding the pads looks deceptively simple, but while your partner is punching away, you need to keep your core stiff and your leg muscles engaged, so it also feels like a workout.
After that, we go into kicks. So Sonja shouts out the number of kicks we need to do on each side, and this ranges from two to 10.
With our legs feeling like feeble twigs, we then have the option to do some core exercises to finish off with.
Half the class scampers off, but I stay (glutton for punishment) and am glad I’ve done so. The core is hard but at a lower intensity, although at one point I do burst into hysterics.
How on earth am I physically going get home? I ask Louise and Sonja.
"An ambulance," the ladies joke.
For a moment, I consider it.
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