The Transformative Power of Boxing for Women

By Steph Dykstra

Boxing is an incredible sport that can offer surprising benefits — depending of course on what you’re prepared to put into it! As an enthusiast, competitor, and now coach, I’ve frequently seen the transformative power of boxing, particularly with women.

I am a fighter, a coach and a business owner, and I have trained in Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, and boxing — my favorite. While I became interested in boxing when I was about 15 years old, it didn’t become my main focus until I was 31, when I began to compete as an amateur.

Like most fighters, I gravitated to martial arts as they were the only spaces where I felt allowed to express myself fully, in all my angry, sad, broken glory.

I was never “too” anything for martial arts. My fury and strength were welcomed, and channeled in healthy ways. I felt powerful, and in these spaces nothing else mattered.

For me, boxing truly is “the sweet science”. It’s not about pummeling people and damaging brain cells; it’s the science of hitting without getting hit, the geometry of controlling the ring.

Good boxing clubs unite people from all walks of life with a common goal. At their best, boxing gyms are a safe, sociable and inclusive venue; a non-judgemental environment which is encouraging yet has strict rules.

OK, but what about getting hit in the face? What if someone hits me?

Well, you get to choose your adventure! You can elect to try non-contact boxing conditioning: nobody hits you, but you do however smack the snot out of focus mitts and bags — which is brilliant!

Like Rocky said, nobody and nothing is going to hit you harder than life. Compared to life, boxing is fun run in the park, followed by a visit to the local butcher shop!

Boxing is a sport that allows for whole health, as it allows you to wonderfully weave body, mind, and soul, and when those things are working together, you reclaim how powerful you are.

Let’s Get Physical: The Transformative Power of Boxing on the Body

On a physical level, boxing provides clear evidence of the results of hard work. Week by week, students see changes in their body as they grow fitter; they get faster, more powerful, more accurate and technical.

They see how effort and hard work can directly improve their capabilities, themselves, and their lives. The commitment and courage it takes to throw yourself into new skills ultimately leads to new confidence and capability.

Mastering new skills creates success momentum, and optimism is at a high after a good boxing session!

In short, improved health, new skills, better conditioning, more confidence, and being your best self may be side effects of your boxing practice!

Free Your Mind: The Transformative Power of Boxing on the Mind

On a mental level, boxing training can also help improve attention, focus and concentration. When you’re boxing, you can’t think about work, your kids, death, or taxes — you just can’t. Your brain has more pressing things to worry about, like remembering combinations, keeping your hands up, and remembering to breathe.

You have to be present when you are boxing. You can’t be anywhere else.

There is no place other than the radius of your arm span, and no time other than right now. Boxing is a mental, physical, and emotional puzzle you are solving in each unfolding moment.

And it’s a damn good workout.

Heart & Soul: The Transformative Power of Boxing on the Spirit

Beside the physical benefits, boxing helps with cognition and emotional regulation. Simply put, punching sh*t feels good!

Boxing takes you out of your comfort zone, enabling you to explore your full potential, allowing you to fail in a supportive environment without punishment (should you choose), and encouraging you to confront fear in a contained way and to overcome it.

You have to retrain every instinct you might have: the instinct to duck and cover, to avoid discomfort, to treat fear like the plague.

You won’t stop being afraid of things after you’ve trained in boxing, but fear won’t run your life anymore — there’s some fight in you now.

You’ll know you can feel uncomfortable and scared and survive. Fear might still kick your ass, but at least you’ll get a few good shots in as you go down.

Boxing is in fact a metaphor for success in life: to succeed in boxing you have to motivate yourself, exert control over your body and emotions, have discipline, delay gratification, and put in hard work in order to gain reward.

Want to Give Boxing a Try?

Here is how you can get started:

  • Research reputable gyms in your area.
  • Visit the gym, and watch a class to feel out the community, coaching style, and to ensure it is a good fit for you.
  • Get punching!

Boxing isn’t just about training your body; it impacts your mind, body and spirit. Try it! Bring your worst, most teeth-gnashing, stomach-clenching anxieties and life stresses. Spend an hour punching the crap out of things, and then see what happens. Something tells me you won’t regret it!

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About the author:  Steph Dykstra

Steph, a.k.a. the Iron Lioness is the co-owner, creative director, martial arts coach, boxer, and powerlifter at Iron Lion Training Inc., which Steph has founded with her husband Ron, and where all bodies, abilities, ages, and stages of life are welcome. Steph offers a unique skill set and experience, as she has both technical, and practical knowledge as an active, competitive athlete. Her Facebook page is a body positive, judgement-free zone where women are encouraged to find their power in the pride. You can also find the Iron Lioness on Instagram.

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