Bridal Bootcamp: Why One BG Staffer Started Boxing

I'm pictured on the right, my friend Chrissy is on the left. We're delirious and makeup-free, but endorphin-happy from our workout. The sacrifices we do for journalism...

Whenever I tell someone that I am taking a boxing class to get more toned for my wedding, their reaction is always the same: "I want to try kickboxing, too!" After I explain that I meant "boxing" as in punching bags, gloves, and a ring where the point is to knock someone else out, I'm met with shocked expressions. "But why?" they'll ask.

I've been duitfully practicing yoga and working on cardio three to four times a week since last February. I decided that since I'm in my 20's, it was now or never (before having a husband, children, and other heavy-duty responsibilities) to establish some kind of fitness routine. Once I reached my goal and difficult sun salutations started to seem as effortless as scratching my back, it was time to intensify my workout routine, and boxing was the ultimate challenge.

The night before my first class, I started to regret my decision and woke up tangled in bedsheets from all the tossing and turning. What if the other girls—I go to a female-only gym—beat me to a bloody pulp? I'm barely five feet tall, for goodness sake! 

I was relieved to learn that it would be weeks before we would be asked to spar, where the instructor wears protective guards and you engage in a real, bell-timed "fight." Our boxing workouts consisted of four parts: A warm-up where you jog in a circle (light-footed and quietly, like ninjas, I was told), shadowboxing, where you practice your moves and form in the mirror; mitts and punching bag training; and strength training, which included the usual torture (push-ups, leg raises) mixed with self-defense moves (what to do if someone grabs you from behind, how to break free from a choke grip).

Here's why I think other BG brides should give boxing a shot, too:

1. It may be more afforable than hiring a personal trainer. I only paid $70 for a series of seven weekly classes—an incredible bargain considering the amount of one-on-one attention we received.

2. You maximize your workout efforts by combining cardio and strength training. Boxing is a total body workout that is great for toning muscles, increasing endurance and agility, and burning fat (more than 400 calories per hour, on average). Worried you'll pack on too much muscle? Don't be: In my experience, I've gotten more trim without adding mass. Don't believe me? Just look at fellow boxing celebs like Adriana Lima, Matthew McConaughey and Lauren Conrad.

3. You'll learn how to defend yourself. The number-one rule of boxing: Never let your guard down. During one of our practice sessions, my instructor called out the usual punching sequences (#1 is one jab, #2 is two, #3 is a right-left jab, #4 is two jabs then two uppercuts, and so forth) and without any warning, smacked me across the side of the head. "What was that for? I didn't even see it coming!" That was the point, you see. I should have acted on my instincts and ducked.

4. It's a great way to bond with your bridal party. Without too much convincing, one of my bridesmaids, Chrissy, went along with my crazy plan, and for that, I am grateful. Not only did we both tone up for our weddings together, but we also made memories and looked forward to the (brief) gabbing time before we got the $%^& kicked out of us. Whenever I felt dizzy and faint, as if I was about to pass out after a match, she would whisper words of encouragement and hold up the watter bottle to my lips, a la Rocky, so I wouldn't have to take my sweaty gloves off. That's the true meaning of sisterhood.

5. Adrenaline junkies, this is an instant rush! There's no better way to alleviate wedding stress than to visualize it and punch it until you forgot why you were even upset in the first place. It's one thing to practice punching and footwork robotically in a controlled setting; it's a whole other matter entirely to have a 6 foot tall, 250 lb. man spontaneously lunge at you. To the surprise of my class (and myself) I backed my opponent into a corner of the wall and wouldn't stop until the bell rang.

—Stefania Sainato