If you are looking for a fantastic role model for young people in all sports, then look no further than boxer Katie Taylor, who has had some stunning success in the past month alone. It shows that training hard and staying focused can be great -- but only if you put in the effort and discipline to stay on a long-term programme.
The months involved in preparation are really tough, with many gyms offering boxercise classes and bag workouts. This is a great workout. Boxing will tone arms, shoulders, back, waist and all the major muscle groups. Working with high reps and fast explosive training, you are really working the heart and lungs.
It certainly gets the whole body working. A great combination would be to do two pad or bag workouts combined with weight training, skipping and running and a good food plan.
To find out what it was like to train with the gloves on, I spent three days training with Jim Rock, the Pink Panther ex-pro champion, and boy did I let myself in for some workout.
After three, three-minute rounds, which included jogging and skipping for five minutes after each round, I thought my heart was going to explode. There is nothing like getting a few slaps to the face and being pummelled in the tummy to get the adrenalin really moving fast, and it's great for anger management.
Even though we were only sparring, my shoulders and arms felt as if they were about to fall off. I can't imagine what it would be like if you were in the ring for real. The effect on the abs and upper body makes you feel like you have been run over with a steam roller. There were pains in places I did not know existed. After the three rounds, the legs started to go weak as the adrenalin pumped around the body.
My heart rate was up to 160 but recovered quickly to 75 after one minute. The efforts of sparring really surprised me. I think I'm strong and fit, but doing something different, attacking the muscles from a different angle, really shocked the system.
The number of calories you burn during a good 45-minute session would be around 1,000. Remember, 1lb of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.
Lose 1lb of fat a week over six months, and that's a lot of real fat, not muscle or liquid. Although you do sweat a lot. But you only lose water weight. Drink fluids and it goes back on. But, more importantly, you lose fat.
So if you have access to a punch bag in your gym or at home, try doing three, three-minute rounds, hitting the bag steadily and no stopping for three minutes, then jump on the bike or treadmill or cross-trainer for five minutes on fast with low resistance, then repeat three times with one break.
If you can speak after this session then you are not working hard enough. Moving from one foot to the other is really important to helping you focus. And there is no time for idle chat, take it seriously.
When you can handle three rounds, move to five. This is a fantastic workout for people of all ages, especially children, and all you need is a punch bag, gloves, wraps for your knuckles and some proper instruction. Get the correct-fitting gloves etc and book a lesson with Mick Dowling at his shop in Terenure.
If you get the correct movement you will avoid injuring your wrist, shoulders, etc. It's easy to hit a bag but to do it properly is a different story. There is only one way to learn this art: get instruction.
Later on, if you want to progress to sparring, just check out Boxing Ireland or Mick's shop.
We all know someone who has participated in white-collar boxing, maybe for charity, but be careful -- some get carried away and think they are Rocky, intent on doing you some serious damage. For example, one of my clients, a week ago, got a broken nose and lost a tooth. Not nice, so be careful.
We had the great opportunity at our gym to look after Hilary Swank -- who won an Oscar for the boxing movie Million Dollar Baby -- and she told me she trained six hours every day working out with the bag, weights and skipping.
That's a long time.
When Jim Rock was training hard, a typical day was 45 minutes hard run, then he had breakfast, after that an hour of rest. Then he worked on the bag/gym training for two and a half hours, his weight loss of 7lbs would be mainly liquid, ie 6½lbs of liquid and ½lb fat. He would then have dinner with liquids, then rest. His gain would be about 6lbs. Same workout next day!
Overall, an ideal plan would be to lose ½lb of fat daily, one stone in one month depending on the body mass. Twelve, three-minute rounds in the ring would equal your run time and a little more. This would be a typical six days' training programme and one day of rest. That's hard training.