Staying fit with Michael David

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Foster King works out at Steamboat Karate Academy.

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Here and below: Rebecca Hanson demonstrates a jab

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Punches

Jab

Start with yours hands up. Feel comfortable and loose, because you never want your feet stuck in the mud.

"If you can't move, you can't escape or attack," David said.

Lean forward slightly. The jab comes from the forward hand. Extend the forward hand, make contact and retract to the same position you started from. A jab is the punch to use when close to the target.

Power punch

The power punch is similar to the jab, but it gives you a better chance to use your body. Take more of a step forward and deliver a big punch straight out to the target, but remember to always keep your opposite arm and hand up for protection.

Upper cut

Use either arm and throw the punch from either hand, but whichever hand you aren't using should be kept up for protection. The upper cut is made with a swooping action, and the target usually is in the middle. Start the punch low and bring it up into the target. But remember, no punch should take too long time to develop because it gives your opponent time to react and prepare.

Boxing is a complete body workout. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

Although punches come from the upper body, your midsection and lower body work in conjunction with the upper body to produce the power and precision behind the punches. Proper movement and balance are the difference between a weak, inaccurate punch and a punch that makes an impact.

Local boxing instructor Michael David, who owns Steamboat Karate Academy, loves to box, and he passes that enthusiasm and expertise along to his students, who vary in age and ability level.

"Boxing is anaerobic, interval training," David said. "There is a lot of start and stop - 30 seconds of explosive work and then rest."

In David's studio, class participants can work with a stand-up bag, which is softer and a little easier on the body, or a hanging bag, which is much heavier and secured from the ceiling.

Boxers also can spar with one another, meaning one person wears gloves and throws the punches while the other person wears pads to soften the blows and protect his or her body.

David urges novices not to think of boxing as a contact sport. Instead, he said, think of it as a unique workout in the Yampa Valley and one that can boost self-confidence as well as strength and agility.

"It's not all about weight loss," David said. "It's about gaining strength. I'm trying to give the opportunity to the valley. The more workout chances they have, a less chance people have to get stuck in a rut."

In its glory days, heavyweight boxing was one of American's most prestigious sports. The fights were few and far between, and the hype generated before a prize bout could capture nationwide and worldwide audiences.

Now, those famous fights involving such names as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Mike Tyson are considered classic sports moments.

But boxing classes like David's bring the sport to the curious and adventurous in a safe, comfortable environment. And don't discount its physical benefits.

The lower body gets a surprisingly rigorous workout when boxing, and David works with his students to further target that area with activities such as jumping rope, squats, lunges and kicks on the heavy bag.

"They get a better idea of boxing to see if they have fighting skills," David said. "You become more proficient. Proper form and technique are the cornerstones of any good exercise."

For more information about David's boxing classes, call 871-1500.

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