Boxing Gyms – 3 Golden Rules To Survive Them!

by Fran on November 30, 2010

Boxing Gyms – How to Survive Them!

Before we get started, let me make one thing very clear. Being an active, competitive boxer requires that you attend one of the many boxing gyms scattered throughout many towns and cities across many countries all across the world. Even in those countries where professional boxing is banned (for example Norway and Sweden), there are a wealth of well-run amateur boxing gyms where the skills and techniques of the noble art will be taught at a very reasonable price.

It being the case then that there are many boxing gyms and it will only be by a quirk of geography, a lack of desire to box competitively (that is you only wish to box for personal fitness reasons) or some medical-type reason (for example acute agoraphobia) that might prevent you from joining one of the community boxing gyms, I wanted to write a short article for you which provides three pieces of golden advice if you are about to cross the threshold of one of the boxing gyms in your area.

Rule 1:

Don’t feel the need to go and spend a pile of cash on sparring gloves, head gear, boxing boots etc. Keep it simple in the short term. You will need, as a minimum training clothes and shoes, boxing wraps and shower gear.

That’s it. You don’t even need in the short term to buy bag gloves or a skipping rope as the gym will undoubtedly provide these. As time passes and you make a decision as to whether you like being around boxing gyms, then you can spend your hard earned cash on the bag gloves, skipping rope, boxing boots and gum shield. All other gear will continue to be provided by the gym. In fact, you might want to avoid buying gloves for the purposes of sparring as the coach will often want to assess their suitability to be used in his or her boxing ring. On a number of occasions I’ve had to disappoint boxers by refusing to allow them to wear their freshly imported Cleto Reyes 16 oz gloves for sparring because of the paucity of padding in the knuckle area! For more on this, check out the 6 things to know about boxing gloves article.

Rule 2:

When you join, don’t feel hard done by that the coach does not immediately drop everything in order to give his or her undivided attention to you. The reality of most boxing gyms is that the coach is extremely busy and their time is very much at a premium. Whilst being busy is often not an entirely acceptable excuse for ignorance, there is a much more logical reason for them to, as you see it, disregard your considerable efforts. So, what is this reason? It’s simple really, they are testing you!

In boxing gyms of old, the number of young boxers wishing to participate in the sport probably outnumbered modern patronage by at least 10 to 1. Back in the day, when human rights were less of an issue, the main method employed by the coaching staff to measure the commitment of a particular individual was to throw them in a boxing ring with little or no guidance, against an experienced sparring partner, and allow the slaughter to commence. After a few evenings of such blood-letting, if the newcomer kept coming, then their commitment was deemed not in question (unsurprisingly) and the coach would honour them with some advice and guidance…everybody’s happy!

Nowadays, coaching staff have to be a little more humanistic! The most efficient way to measure the commitment of an individual in the modern gym environment is to ignore the individual. In fact, many coaches go out of their way to utterly blank the individual. If that person just keeps on coming to the gym, then they have proven themselves worthy of the coach’s attention and their journey to boxing superstardom has begun!

Rule 3:

Watch and Listen! This might seem like obvious advice, but it is critically important. It goes without saying that you must listen (and obey) your coach. It is also worthwhile considering that in some cases challenging what the coach says often brings benefits as it demonstrates an inquisitive mind. Be careful though as depending upon their coaching style the coach might appreciate the debate unless of course they employ a more authoritarian approach in which case you’ll probably find yourself in the midst of a storm of press-ups!

As importantly, watch the other boxers in the gym. Boxing gyms have a varied mix of skill and experience levels. As a novice, watching the more experienced and skilled boxers when they shadow box, spar, work the heavy bag, or anything else for that matter, will help you learn. Success breeds success! Be warned though, don’t make it too obvious, you might give the wrong impression, if you know what I mean! If you have any doubt, ask for advice from the boxers themselves. Boxing gyms are a melting pot of learning and by and large all are considered equal. In my experience, boxers tend to be very giving in their guidance to less experienced peers, so make the most of this and soak it up like a sponge!

So there it is, rules for survival in boxing gyms. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll not only survive, you’ll positively prosper!

Any comments or questions, leave them below and I’ll try my best to respond!



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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

akeem July 2, 2016 at 3:31 pm






J.B December 3, 2014 at 11:27 am

Hi this article was very helpful 🙂

I have been boxing for 4 months now… well I didn’t turn up for a month due to a wrist injury and now I think the coaches think I’m not dedicated or something, I’m kind of sick of being partnered with the beginners who I am better than when doing pad work or open rounds, I learn nothing and I feel like I’m not getting noticed. It’s frustrating because I eventually I want to get in the ring and have a few bouts. I forget the basics sometimes but I know I’m not shit as I have sparred people a lot more experienced than me and done very well.


J.B December 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

When I say I forget the basics in other words I mean I drop my hands sometimes, luckily I have a good chin 😀


Fran December 5, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Hey JB

Thanks for the comment. As I say in the article, you just concentrate on improving your skills. Try to watch some of the more experienced lads, watch some of the vids on the site 🙂 and practice your basic drills at home as well as in the gym. You will improve and it will be recognised by the coaching staff.

Keep working hard mate, and the worm will turn 🙂


Rich January 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Hey Fran,

That’s great pal – the light bulb has now gone on !!!

I think the problem may be that he is waiting for the right hand before he pivots which obviously requires blinding speed – as you say it is often pre-determined. It’s simply a case of pivoting and then throwing the hook if the they throw and miss with their right hand.

I think I know why I missed this important point too. I have been sparring with the same guy for a few years now. When I counter his right hand it almost feels as though I am reacting as he throws his right when in reality I am so used to seeing the sequence of events that take place in the milliseconds before he throws it (i.e. how he positions his body to set up the right after his jab) I have already initiated the pivot before he throws its – The pivot is pre-determined!!!

Something else I have just realised as well – I never (well almost never) actually push away with the block (that is what I have told him to do) – but I do drop my rear foot back a few inches whilst blocking (it creates a little more distance – I feel more comfortable this way) and then as soon as my rear toe touches the ground I “explode” into a pivot (before the right hand as been initiated)

I suppose as long as I explain he needs to block the jab and then pivot just in case the right hand follows either way should work fine.

I now have some good ideas how he can deliberately set this up in sparring. I’m sure he will now be able to pick this up really quickly.

Some bad coaching on my part but hey – I’m still learning.

Thanks for that Fran – Some great advice mate – much appreciated!!!



Fran January 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

You’ve got it Rich, and it’s not bad coaching at all, it’s just a different perspective and that’s something that we all need more regularly than you would think. I work with coaches who are more inexperienced than me and every week see them take an approach that prompts me to do things slightly differently. It’s all part of this coaching experience and I for one would not be without it.


Rich December 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Hi Fran,

I think the word “Dilemma” sum’s up exactly how I see the situation.

I have a suggestion / request for a future article / video mate. I have been trying to learn my son to counter a right hand (when thrown as a 1-2) by blocking and stepping away when the opponent Jabs and throwing a left hook to counter the following right hand whilst pivotting away. We have worked on this several times but for some reason he won’t apply it in sparring. I’ don’t think I have explained things in a way that gives him the confidence to try it. I have tried to demonstrate this technique at slow speed but I myself can’t seem to “consciously / explicitly” understand the timing of it all. It seems natural / easy at full speed. I just seem to do it naturally, but I’m have real trouble communicating the timing of it to him. I would love to see you break this skill down mate. It may well be just a case of him finding the perfect opportunity in sparring to try it and then the light buld may go on??? However, I would love to hear your views on this and how you would teach it.


Keep up the good work mate!!!



Rich December 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Good article Fran.

svenjamin – I take the opposite approach mate. I go out of my way to make the new guys / gals feel comfortable and welcome. I always try and get them on the pads straight after the warm up. We have lots of clubs near by and I wouldn’t want a potential future champ to go try his luck elsewhere. Plus, I know how daunting it can be for a young lad to walk into a boxing gym – I like to make them feel at home and I want them to look forward to the next session.

There is a down side to this though – I waste time teaching lads who have no commitment to the sport. It can be very frustrating when they leave. Especially when I know that our dedicated boxers have missed out on valuable coaching time.

All the best,



Fran December 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Rich, that last paragraph sums up the coach’s dilemma perfectly. I try to spend at least a few minutes with a newcomer, just enough to give them something to focus on. Maybe the basic stance, movement forward and back and a jab. After that I find that it’s just a case of getting 10 minutes here and there on the pads with them. Active boxers with an upcoming fight always take priority though, and those fights just keep on coming. It’s a tough one alright.

Thanks Rich


svenjamin December 24, 2010 at 6:57 am

Good write up! I don’t have any experience with boxing-only gyms. We don’t really have many outside of big cities.

The bit about coaches testing students by ignoring them was especially interesting.


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