One of the best aspects of a boxing workout is that it can happen almost anywhere. Unlike tennis, basketball or hockey, that all require very specific playing fields or courts, boxing training can happen in many different settings.
Of course, if you are sparring, you need the right equipment to protect your hands and face, but a ring isn’t really required and you can get by with a minimal amount of bags. So the costs of opening, starting and maintaining a gym can be fairly inexpensive. As a result, many gyms today, officially registered USA Boxing Gyms and otherwise, are set up in homes, basements, garages and backyards across the country. Some coaches choose to avoid the traditional gym setting, not only because of the costs of overhead and the headaches of running a full-fledged business, but as much for the convenience of having the gym as close to home as possible. That way more time can be spent training, not packing up gear and commuting.
Training from home isn’t exclusive to fighters just starting out, pursuing it only for fitness or amateurs boxers either. There have been many professional fighters through the years who have chosen to keep their training headquarters right in their backyards…literally.
Famous, Five-Time Light Flyweight World Champion, Michael “Little Hands of Stone” Carbajal and his trainer/brother, Danny used their backyard as their training ground of choice throughout most of Michael’s successful career. More recently, current Lightweight World Champion, Robert “the Ghost” Guerrero and his trainer/father used their converted garage to train in. Both Carbajal and Guerrero, had at some point expressed their desire to make the most of their gym time and effort by keeping their training convenient and close to home. They also preferred the privacy and lack of distractions that you get when you avoid a larger gym setting.
Aside from the benefits of anonymity, close proximity and freedom from extraneous noise that you get from training close to home, there are a few pitfalls that can work against you if you’re not aware and don’t take the proper precautions to avoid them.
First off, the pace and energy level of a big gym, full of fighters, full of noise, the sounds of bags, the ringing bells, the shouts of encouragement or trash-talking, is different than the peaceful setting of a home gym. Yes, a home based gym may allow you to concentrate easier, but it can also draw you into complacency if you’re not careful. If you train at home, you have to be even more aware of the need to push the pace of your workout, maintain a high level of intensity and purpose. If you train at home, offset the tendency to feel at home by constantly pushing yourself to do more.
Secondly, when you regularly train in a big gym, you get used to the sound, the crowds, the onlookers, other fighters sizing you up and having an audience when you spar. Without having that on a daily basis it can work against you come fight time, unless you go to other gyms regularly to spar. Then, in that case, it can even work for you. You don’t do it every day so it is more like an actual fight experience, where you are walking into hostile territory, with new faces and a crowd you have to impress. You are put in a similar situation of stress and anxiety, just like you are in a real fight scenario. When you train and spar regularly in a big gym, you get used to the crowds and onlookers so it isn’t out of the ordinary. So, in this case, it can work for you or against you, depending on how often you get out of your home and spar. If you make a conscious effort to experience new surroundings, perform in front of strange people and put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable and out of your element, you can have the best of both worlds.
In either case, having proper coaching and regular feedback is essential. There is no replacement for an objective eye, healthy criticism and good guidance. Whether you are in the confines of your own home or a wide open gym, for the world to see you in action, don’t think you can go it alone. You may be the hardest worker in the world, the most dedicated practitioner of form and good technique and your own harshest critique, but you will never see yourself from an outside perspective. And that’s a vantage point you desperately need in this sport. A good coach will see things you never could and think of things you won’t. He will understand your full potential and help you devise a plan to reach it. Regardless of your surroundings or setting, an insightful coach will give feedback from an opponent’s point of view with your best interests at heart. Having the type of clear, self-perception to do that on your own would be next to impossible.
There may be nothing better than Home Sweet Home when it comes to eating Mom’s homemade apple pie, but there are variables to factor-in when your boxing training happens there. Keeping close to home has worked for some, but there are also potential negatives to consider before rolling out a welcome mat for your boxing gym. You may have to work to counteract being too relaxed, too secluded and too familiar in the comforts of your own home. However, if you’re aware of those potential dangers and are able to turn them around to work in your favor, you might be uncovering a whole world of possibilities…possibilities that ultimately maximize your workout time, increase your focus and allow you to put your punches together in private.