If you don’t count Wii boxing, then I’ve never boxed in my life. I know who Muhammad Ali is, and I know what a boxing ring looks like, but I’ve never watched a fight. I’ve never seen any of the Rocky movies. I know almost nothing about boxing.
Ding Ding Group Boxing is a new gym that opened August 8 on Ross. I figured I’d give it a shot (or punch). I have very little upper body strength, so maybe something that focused on arms would help. I signed up for a class and asked my coworker if I should pay the extra $3 to rent gloves. “Probably,” they said, so I added it to my cart.
A day later, I was parking next to black and yellow building (“sting like a bee,” anyone?) with lightning bolts and a stick-figure boxer painted on the exterior walls. Inside, the studio had 36 teardrop-shaped heavy bags stationed around a center podium, where the instructor DJed and counted down the minutes before class started. “You have four minutes,” he called out. Then “30 seconds.”
I grabbed a set of weights from a rack—the lightest option was 10 pounds—and my gloves from a cubby. A minute or two before class started, the instructor asked if anyone had any injuries. I quickly explained my disability—there wasn’t time to get into detail. He nodded and said he’d make modifications as needed.
We warmed up with the “boxer’s bounce,” then the instructor taught us the proper stance and punches: jabs, crosses, hooks, and undercuts. Then we started practicing each punch on the bag. I was slow; however, my pace didn’t matter—we could go at our own speed. After practicing each punch, we started to do combinations. The instructor would show us the moves and TVs above the podium would display the combos.
We did three “rounds” of boxing throughout the 50-minute class. The second round featured more complicated combinations. But almost all of them were in four- or eight-counts, which felt like a dance. The third round featured simpler combos and alternated focus between power and speed, but we could still throw punches at our pace. This round, despite the fact I was tired, felt quicker.
Between each round, we did various lunges, squats, and crunches. These exercises were mostly doable. But when we started arm curls with the 10-pound weights, I made eye contact with the instructor and slightly shook my head no. He nodded, then announced a modification that people could do. I was grateful I didn’t have to say anything out loud.
We took our gloves off for these between-round exercises. I had problems getting my gloves on and off (I also have poor control over my hands and fingers), so I waved the instructor over for an assist after the first round. For the rest of class, he’d come over and help me get in and out of my gloves without me asking again.
Throughout the class, the instructor walked around, checking form and hyping us up. Loud hip-hop music blasted through speakers. I had a lot of fun, and when we got to the end-of-class stretching, I wasn’t quite ready to leave the “ring.”
The interiors of Ding Ding are like an industrial boxing gym gone bougie. The tea-drop punching bags hang from thick chains, and loud rap sucker-punches you into the zone. You can’t bring your phone into the gym, but you can head to the bathroom for a post-workout pic. The space is sleek, with black subway tile wainscotting and massive circular mirrors that are just begging for selfies.
I definitely worked up a sweat during the 50-minute session, but I felt the class was doable. There was barely anything I couldn’t do some version of. I appreciated how the screens displayed the combinations we were working on—the more complex combos were hard to remember. I wasn’t expecting all the lunges, squats, crunches, and weights, though. While it was a nice break from the punching, I had to modify some of these moves for myself.
I was impressed with how my instructor handled my disability. I appreciated that he came over every time to help with my gloves. I also appreciated that if there was a movement I couldn’t do, I only had to make eye contact with him. Additionally, there was no expectation to be perfect. We could punch at our own pace and strength. I did find a few things frustrating about Ding Ding. I didn’t like that the lightest weights were 10 pounds. The music was very loud, and although the instructor wore a microphone, it was hard to hear him up on the podium. (Editor’s note: This isn’t a problem isolated to just Ding Ding—many of the gyms I’ve visited have this issue.) Also, the punching bags were high, which could be a problem for shorter people. I stand at 5-foot-2 on a good day, and I was eye level with the bag. Despite those little issues, I really loved the class.
The Cost of It All
Ding Ding has a first-timers deal: three classes for $75. But a single class costs $32, which is about average I’ve seen for gyms across the city. There are also five-, 10-, and 20-class packages, which, if you look at the cost-per-class, are decent deals. It’s an extra $3 each to buy a water bottle or rent gloves. While I brought in my own water bottle, I’d recommend renting the gloves if you don’t own any of your own.
Would I go again?
Did Rocky keep fighting Apollo Creed?