Fight Night at Ministry of Sound

Last Friday I went to Ministry of Sound.  However, in stark contrast to the days of the past where I would turn up to a nightclub in impossible-to-walk-in sky high heels and too-short miniskirt, I was comfortably in my favourite lycra and trainers.  That may have been the only thing that was comfortable about the evening however…

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One of the girls at work introduced me to Ministry does Fitness.  It used to be the club’s ‘hidden booze vault’ but has been transformed into a training studio where, as they say, you will sweat your arse off for results.  However, it wasn’t the reasonable sounding ‘cardio’, ‘core’ or ‘endurance’ classes she had in mind, no, it was Hiitbox Volume V.

What is Hiitbox?

“Sonja Moses and her team of Hiitbox Ninjas will deliver that fight night feeling, challenging you to unleash your inner badass and bring your A-game to this high energy HIIT boxing experience! 12 rounds of pads interspersed with high intensity fitness moves accompanied by a live DJ and MC”

Slightly different to the usual Ministry does Fitness classes, Hiitbox is a special event that takes place in the famous London nightclub itself and is all wrapped up by 9pm so the traditional revelers can take over.  I didn’t really know what to expect but, for £30, I was expecting something a little bit special.

Genna and I turned up to the club just before 18.30 where we wrapped our hands up and waited outside for the fun to begin.  I wasn’t overly impressed by this bit, we had already handed our bags over and had to wait outside for just a little too long, it was cold despite the heaters.

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Eventually we were invited inside, reds to the left, blues to the right, accompanied by some hooded Hiitbox Ninjas.  They didn’t look friendly.  It was dark, I was separated from Genna who was on the other side, and we were all lined up against a wall in a corridor.  It was a little eerie.

Before I knew it, there were 3 hooded ninjas jumping up and down and screaming in my face to squat, ‘lower, lower, f**king LOWER’.  It was still dark.  ‘On the floor, push ups, NOW’.  ‘Get up, knees up, higher, higher.’  And that was just the warm up.  Fast, intense and bloody exhausting.  The lead ninja then simply laughed and said ‘now you’re all gonna get f**ked up’.  He was right.

Inside the club I was reunited with Genna and the real fight started.  It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere but the lights were low, the lasers were on, the DJ was in full force and, in true boxing style, an MC was on stage to introduce each of the ninjas and our instructor, Sonja Moses (this is a lady who personifies badass).

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We were then put through 12 rounds of 4 minute high intensity boxing routines each taking it in turns on the pads and gloves.  Starting with some simple punch sequences, that began slowly with, a focus on technique, and finished fast, with a focus on trying not to be sick, these progressed into more complex routines including roundhouse kicks and knee strikes.  The final round consisted of 4 solid minutes of punches and burpees, it was a killer.  I hated it. I loved it. I didn’t know how I felt.  My whole body was shaking.

Hiitbox is more than just an exercise class, it’s an experience that’s geared up to create a proper ‘fight night’ feeling.  There are full on theatrics, fighting talk, and ring girls, with an electric, high energy atmosphere brought about through a live DJ and Sonja herself.  Each round left you gasping for breath, it was intense, sweaty, challenging and totally exhilarating.

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In hindsight, although £30 isn’t cheap, it’s in keeping with London’s boutique spinning studios and bootcamps that easily charge £20 an hour for a regular class, plus you were supplied with water throughout and drinks and snacks at the end.  I was promised “the freshest beats, biggest sound-system, legendary coaches and an epic full body workout” and that’s exactly what I got.

Be warned though, at some point in the middle of the night I woke up and realised I could barely move my entire body.  You will go hard and you will hurt, but if you like being pushed to your limits, you’re gonna love it.

Go with a friend, go with your hand wraps, go with an open mind and go with bags of energy.  But GO!

The Crew. Photo: Tom Webb @tomwebb_photographer

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Moreno Boxing – Be Who You Want To Be

I absolutely love boxing.  It’s fast, furious, intense and sweaty.  I used to be a regular at a gritty boxing gym in Old Street until I changed jobs and, sadly, it wasn’t local anymore.  Boxing is a phenomenal form of fitness that combines strength and co-ordination with a full body workout that is great for de-stressing and focusing the mind.  Despite popular belief, it is also a sport that is open to all.

Last week I headed down to Moreno Boxing, Clapham’s newest Boxing Gym, and it’s pretty swish.  Complete with a crossfit rig, Olympic weights, full-size boxing ring and water-filled punch bags, it offers you a ‘real’ boxing experience.  What it is not is a boxercise class.

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When I met Carlos, the founding director of Moreno Boxing, the thing that struck me was how passionate he was about his sport, and in that moment I knew I was going to love this place.

After having his first fight at 18, Carlos went on to compete in over 30 amateur boxing fights, he has several international championship medals under his belt, and even took the National Championship Title in Portugal in 2014.  It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about boxing and he’s keen to share that knowledge, and those skills, with ordinary people.

Why should the best training methods be reserved for professional athletes only? At
Moreno Boxing we give everyone the opportunity to learn proper boxing from experienced athletes. It’s about giving everyone the opportunity to be the greatest boxer they can be; it’s about helping others be who they want to be!

Carlos Moreno

Carlos also talked about how important it was to be ‘present’ in his sessions and it’s this focus and attention that’s one of the things I love about boxing.  It’s all too easy when you’re out on a run or on the bike to mentally switch off.  But you can’t do that in boxing, and if you do you will only make that mistake once, trust me!

Carlos

Keeping it simple, Moreno Boxing offer just two signature classes, both designed to develop different skills and afford different fitness benefits.

TIB – Technical Intensive Boxing

This class is your traditional glove and pad boxing class and it’s my favourite one.  After a warm up and a re-cap on how to throw jabs, crosses, hooks and upper cuts, were partnered up and straight into the routine.

TIB is about developing the specific skills you need to be able to box, and not just to attack, but also to defend.  This class breaks down each move into drills to give you an intense, lung busting workout that works both the arms and the legs (and in fact everything else!)

Combining power, speed, balance and co-ordination, as well as mental strength, it will push you to your limits and leave you completely knackered!

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ITXT – Intensive Boxing Cross Training

The second class is dedicated to cross-training, but don’t think that that makes it any easier!  The session is made up of a circuit which includes short, sharp bursts of exercises such as:

  • Medicine Balls
  • Push Ups
  • Punch Bags
  • Dead Lifts
  • Kettle Bells
  • Tricep Dips
  • Battle Ropes
  • Froggy Jump Squats (ahem, may not be the proper name…)
  • Sit ups

Again, it’s a full body workout and, if you’re not knackered by the end, you weren’t doing it right!

With a cheeky glint in his eye, Carlos said we would end the class with the ‘squat song’.  This turns out to be over 3 minutes of continually squatting to Moby’s Flower…errr, the perfect end to a 2 hour workout.

This is how happy we were…

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Photo credit: Sophie from Fitology UK

Boxing is pretty trendy right now, I’ll give you that.  But don’t do it because it’s trendy.  Do it because it’s one of the most intense and rewarding workouts you will find.  Do it because you want to get fitter and stronger.  Do it because you love to sweat.  Do it because you like to be challenged.  Don’t do it if you’re scared of hard work…

Moreno Boxing has two gyms in London, the original is in Dalston, and the new one is in Clapham Junction.  If you’re keen to test yourself you can find out more here and discover why Professor Green and Millie Mackintosh can’t get enough.

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Photo credit:  Simon Zhao

Massive thanks to both Carlos and and Healthy Living London for having me, I genuinely loved it and have booked in for my nest session!  I was invited to come down to Clapham and try out Moreno Boxing, all opinions, as always, are my own.