What To Expect in Your First Boxing Class

It can be intimidating to do any martial art for the first time, and this can be especially true for boxing. Knowing what to expect in your first boxing class could ease some of your worries in case you’re feeling anxious, so what can you expect in your first boxing class?

In your first boxing class, you can expect warm-ups, shadow-boxing, boxing drills, working out with pads, heavy bag work, and oftentimes basic calisthenics strength training exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges.

The rest of this article will discuss what to expect in your first boxing class in greater detail. This includes what you should wear, the things you should bring, and how a typical boxing class is structured.

What Should I Wear to My First Boxing Class?

You should wear comfortable clothing that gives you freedom of movement to your first boxing class. For men, wearing a normal shirt and athletic shorts that allow complete flexibility are the best option. For women, workout shirts and a sports bra alongside athletic shorts or leggings work best.

When it comes to shoes, it’s best to avoid regular running shoes. If you are wearing athletic shoes, wear cross-training shoes since the grips on the soles go in multiple directions instead of mostly front to back. This allows better traction through boxing movements.

However, in your first class, you can usually wear any comfortable athletic shoes. Since boxing shoes are costly, it’s best to try out the classes a couple of times before spending money on specialized boxing shoes. Most classes don’t even require people to wear boxing shoes, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Since boxing shoes have less protection on the soles, they let you get a better feel of the ground. This makes it easier for you to react quickly while boxing and training, so investing in a pair of boxing sneakers is a good idea.

Make sure you wear clothes and shoes that let your body breathe. You’ll be sweating a lot in this class, so you don’t want to wear restrictive or heavy clothing that makes you sweat and overheat even more than you need to. 

Your clothes should fit you as well as possible to keep movement fluid while not needing constant adjustment. For example, if your shirt is too tight or your shorts are too loose, you might have to keep adjusting them. This can be annoying and disruptive to your workout.

If you are still concerned about what to wear, you can contact the gym directly to get more information on what other people choose to wear, but it really is not that complicated, just wear comfortable athletic clothes and shoes.

What Do You Need To Bring to Your First Boxing Class?

You’ll only need to bring workout clothes that you are comfortable in to your first boxing class. You may also decide to bring boxing gloves since the communal boxing gloves can be unhygienic. If you want to just use those make sure you clean your hands well afterward.

If you’re unsure whether you need to bring hand wraps and gloves or not, you should contact the boxing gym for more information. Usually, there will be communal gloves, but it is best to confirm before showing up.

The most important thing is to wear comfortable clothing that won’t get in the way of your workout. Stretchy athletic clothing and comfortable athletic shoes are all you really need to bring in most cases.

Another essential thing to bring is water. Boxing classes are intense, so you’ll need to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated before, during, and after your training will keep your performance better and is healthier for your body.

Aside from the equipment, you should bring a willingness to work and improve. If you go into the boxing class with the wrong mindset, you won’t get as much benefit from it or be able to determine how much you like it without your own mental distractions.

To ensure you bring the right energy to the class, drink plenty of water throughout the day, eat a light pre-workout meal, and get enough sleep to perform. If you’re nervous and it just didn’t work out this way for those fundamentals, just go anyway and enjoy your class.

Do You Need To Bring Your Own Gloves to Your First Boxing Class?

If you own boxing gloves or have a friend who is willing to loan your theirs, then bring those. If this is your first boxing class, many gyms will loan you a pair of boxing gloves or let you train basic boxing drills and movements without gloves on. Talk to your gym beforehand to know for certain.

If you have a solid plan that involves sticking with boxing for a long time, or you already know you enjoy it from some other training experience it’s worth it to buy your own. Shared gloves can be quite unhygienic and unpleasant to use, but almost everybody has had to use the old community gym gloves at one point or another.

If you’re not sure whether your boxing gym offers gloves or not, it’s best to contact them to find out. If you have hand wraps, wearing those can help to stabilize your hands and provide a barrier between your skin and the gloves. You can usually buy hand wraps directly from the boxing gym you’re attending if you want to go that route.

Wearing hand wraps is not necessary for most people who are training responsibly and are throwing punches with controlled power commensurate to their experience levels. They do provide helpful stabilization and protect your hand and wrist from taking too much impact and strain.

What Is the Typical Class Structure of a Boxing Class?

The typical class structure of a boxing class includes a warm-up at the beginning, followed by intense pad work and heavy bag training. Some classes may incorporate core or other bodyweight exercises between pad work and heavy bag training. Classes often end with sparring and a cool-down.

You may be expecting the class to only consist of boxing, but this isn’t the case. Many boxing classes include some form of calisthenic strength training, boxing, and cardiovascular conditioning since boxing is often trained specifically for fitness as well as having high fitness requirements to perform at a decent level in boxing training.

Below is an example of the typical structure of a boxing class.


In boxing classes, warm-ups are usually cardio-based. One of the most common cardio warm-ups for boxers is jumping rope. This is an effective way to get your heart rate up and blood pumping. 

Most professional boxers like to jump rope for 10-15 minutes before boxing, but you won’t be expected to do this without taking breaks if it’s your first time. Shadowboxing is another warm-up that the instructor might include in your class, and it can also be used as a cool-down.

Heavy Bag and Pad Work

This is the part that everyone thinks of when they imagine a boxing class. It’s the point in the class when you tighten your boxing gloves and start punching. If it’s your first class, ask the instructor to explain the correct form for techniques that are being used in these drills.

This part of the class is usually done in rounds that last around two or three minutes each. You’ll get a short rest, and then you’ll need to go back to the heavy bag or pad work. 

For pad work, you’ll need a partner who holds up the pads (usually just using your boxing gloves as pads) while you practice and vice versa. This will help improve your punching speed and accuracy, and it also builds teamwork skills.

Finishing Conditioning and Cool-Down

If your boxing gym does sparring it will usually happen after pad work, but as a beginner, you will be opting out of this activity for now. After the boxing techniques, drills, and sometimes sparring are through many gyms do harder conditioning like core work alongside exercises like pushups, pullups, lunges, squats, and power punching heavy bags.

Following that higher-intensity conditioning, you will do a cool-down in which you will usually do less intense activities like shadow boxing. Cooling down after the central part of a boxing class is essential—it safely brings your heart rate back down to its regular rate and restores blood flow. 

At this point of the workout, you’ll be feeling exhausted but pumped at the same time. Cooling down will usually feel quite good after the hard exercise.

What Should You Focus on In Your First Boxing Class?

In your first boxing class, you should focus on trying your best to learn fundamental punching techniques and following your instructor’s instructions as closely as possible. It’s normal to fall behind in your first class, just do your best to have quality movements and keep up as much as possible.

Although it’s good to watch other people in the class and get inspired by how talented they are, it’s not helpful to compare yourself to them. Many people in the class have been doing it for much longer than you, so you should never feel bad about not being on someone else’s level.

Even though boxing may be hard to learn, with some commitment, you can reach similar levels of skill over time. Stay focused on yourself and master the fundamental techniques and movements during your first class and throughout the beginning of your boxing training which will last at least a couple of years.

You should also focus on teamwork, which is crucial in almost all sports. In boxing that means making sure that you are clearly communicating with training partners in paired exercises like pad work. If you are doing movement drills and light sparring you should be respectful and pay attention so that you can both maximally benefit from your training time. 

Getting to know a couple of your training partners will also help to make your first classes go smoother. You can ask them basic questions about the school, and it will be way easier to show up to class in the future if you develop relationships with them and can look forward to seeing friendly faces. In general, being friendly with your teammates will training more engaging and enjoyable.

What Is the Difference Between a Traditional Boxing Class and a Cardio Boxing Class?

The main difference between a traditional boxing class and a cardio boxing class is how the workouts are structured. In a traditional class, exercises are structured to build boxing competency that would translate well into a boxing match situation. Cardio boxing is structured to build fitness.

Another difference is where the classes are actually available. Cardio boxing is typically more common and will occur in commercial gyms in a large group setting. This allows for more widespread appeal since commercial gym-goers are primarily looking to improve their fitness. Boxing classes that are focused on building striking capabilities usually happen in an MMA or traditional boxing gym.

Boxing classes that are designed for maximizing technique quality and building overall striking skills also will have different expectations for student-owned equipment brought to the class. This can include owning your own pair of gloves, hand wraps, and boxing shoes.

Cardio Boxing classes often have loose equipment requirements and sometimes don’t even require you to wear gloves in the class. Many of these classes occur in commercial general fitness-oriented gyms and are structured to only require athletic clothing and normal athletic shoes since they do choreographed shadow boxing alongside other exercises.

Since we’ve already discussed how a standard boxing class is structured, let’s take a look at a typical cardio boxing class structure.

Cardio Boxing Class Structure

While a standard boxing class is generally split into different sets and sections, a cardio boxing class is usually one continuous workout. Instead of being built around progressive skill-building and moderating intensity accordingly, cardio classes revolve around maximizing cardiovascular conditioning steadily in most cases.

This keeps your heart rate up throughout the class while also doing some boxing techniques. Cardio boxing is geared towards people who want to improve their general fitness, with boxing skills being a secondary concern at best.

There are also different types of cardio boxing classes, with some boutique boxing fitness classes requiring gloves and following a more boxing-heavy focus that involves using punching bags alongside calisthenics versus a body combat type workout that you might find at your local YMCA that requires little to no equipment to participate.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully going through what to expect in both boxing classes and cardio boxing classes has demystified them and can help you feel more comfortable attending your first boxing class. Focus on the fundamentals and realize it will be difficult to keep up in the beginning. This can go a long way towards making sure your training is both a more comfortable and productive experience.

For more check out How Often Should You Train Boxing?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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