September's featured gym of the month, CU Women's Boxing, had me filled with mixed emotions leading up to my first day in the gym. I was nervous, unsure, intimidated yet excited as I entered the gym for the initial introduction session. Over my years of exercise, I'd taken a kickboxing class or two, but never wrapped my hands, put on gloves, and used a punching bag. Trying out boxing definitely put me on the outside of my comfort zone, but in the spirt of trying new things AND being brave, I thought it would be an excellent addition to my monthly featured gym series.

Also, let me just state...boxing is NOT kickboxing. Sure, there are elements that are familiar if you've ever done a kickbox style class like BODYCOMBAT, Turbokick or the like, but outside of that, it is definitely different. For one, there really isn't any kicking involved at all. Boxing is unlike any workout I've ever done and after spending a few days at CU Women's Boxing, it is turning out to my a new favorite of mine. I would have never thought (remember I was nervous, unsure, intimidated), but as it turns out, I actually LOVE boxing!

Before getting further into my newfound love of boxing, let's back up a little and talk about...

What is CU Women's Boxing?

CU Women's Boxing is a women owned and operated boxing gym in Champaign-Urbana. It's open to women 18 years and older of any and all fitness levels. Coach Jessie Rusteberg and her brother Joseph Bushman created CU Women's Boxing to be a space dedicated to building empowerment, community and confidence through boxing and overall fitness. With over six years of personal experience plus a USA Boxing Coach certification, Coach Jessie is well knowledged, extremely helpful, ready and willing to help you reach your fitness goals whatever they might be.

What can you expect?

While each class varies from the next, members can expect to get a complete full body workout through a variety of bag combinations & cardio drills, technique  training, strength & core conditioning and speed & mobility work. Because the classes change from day-to-day, you can attend multiple times throughout the week with the guarantee of a new workout each day. Not only does this keep your body continually guessing and improving, but you won't ever get tired of doing the same old thing over and over again!

CU Women's Boxing is also a no-contact gym meaning that participants utilize the punching bags throughout the class and not each other. Rest assured, you never have to worry about getting hit because the bags cannot hit back. With the bag being your opponent, you're working completely against yourself. This is also advantagous because it allows participants to work at their at their own pace and perfect technique without sacrificing their form.

Now let's get into my experience...

Outside of the introductory session, I had the opportunity to take three classes during my visit. Each class was completely different but all equally challenging and pushed me past my limits. I'm not sure if I have ever sweat so much in my life as I did my very first boxing class (and I workout all the time!). What was crazy though... I didn't even care how much sweat was dripping from my body because I was having way to much fun to even think about it!

I drank my entire daily water in one class, boxing works you hard!!!!

Throughout my week at CU Women's Boxing I learned the primary punches (jab, hook, left and right cross and uppercut), plus some additional footwork and boxing skills. I really had no idea how much intricacy was involved with the placement of feet, hips, shoulders, etc. while boxing. There's a lot to think about, with some moves being more difficult than others, but the coaches are there to assist and help as needed. When a move was introduced that I had yet to try, Coach Jessie took a few minutes to review and make sure I had everything down before incorporating the move into the workout. Initially, I moved a little slower with my punches and movements because it was important to focus on my getting my form right before increasing speed.

Don't be mistaken, while we used the arms a great deal with the punching and whatnot, boxing is a total full body workout. The upper body is working, core is engaged and hips and legs are working providing you with more power when your throwing your punches. Not to mention, boxing is a tremendous stress reliever and a huge calorie scorcher. For the three classes I took, I burned on average between 400-500 calories in the hour long class.

Like I said, I LOVE boxing!

And, I'm not just saying that because I'm doing this write up about a boxing gym. I truly left every class feeling energized, empowered, confident and so proud of what I had accomplished. I've already decided to sign up as a member so I can continue implementing boxing into my overall fitness program! I'm super excited to grow and learn more over the next few weeks and months. Not to mention I'm looking forward to a little more stress and anxiety release by way of the bag! I've already ordered my own handwraps from Amazon. I cannot wait to use them!

How do you get started?

Before becoming a member, Coach Jessie offers free introductory sessions prior to the start of a new month. These sessions are amazing because they not only allow to you to ask questions and get more information about the gym and it's offerings but Coach Jessie takes prospective members through a few basic skills (including how to wrap your hands) and techniques that you will need to know prior to showing up for your first full class. The intro session also closes with a few drills that are similar to those done in class so you have a good idea of what to expect when it comes to the overall workout. Click here to next month's introductory sessions and sign up!

Once you're a member, you can take class at any of the scheduled times based on your membership. Classes are offered during the morning and evening hours on Monday and Wednesday with additional options available on Thursday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Open gym is an additional option available to members on select days and times throughout the month.

What does membership look like and how much does it cost?

There are a few different options available for membership depending on how much time you are looking to commit. Monthly prices vary and can be found on the CU Women's Boxing homepage.

If you have additional questions about becoming a member, you can reach out to Coach Jessie for more information and to get signed up for one of the next introductory sessions.

Looking for more information?

If you have any additional questions or would like to hear more about my experience, please don't hesitate to reach out. You can also send any inquiries about the gym, classes, and membership options to Coach Jessie from the CU Women's Boxing homepage.

Many thanks again to Coach Jessie and everyone that I met over this past week. I was honored to be a part of the gym, had a great time visiting and am looking forward to continuing the journey as a member!!

If you're interested in checking out the other gym's that have been featured in this monthly series, you can read all about them here! And, stay tuned for October's featured gym to be announced soon!!