Boxing: The perfect workout

If you were to ask me what type of exercise I consider the most complete, most challenging, and most fun, I’d give an answer that might surprise you…


Boxing develops the athletic trifecta of strength, power, and stamina. Since it requires you to move in all directions — up, down, forward, back, twisting left and right — it enhances mobility as well. It’s a skill you can continue to refine throughout your life, and it even has real-world applications (should the need arise).

Primarily, though, I love the elemental quality of boxing. When you’re sparring, you’re putting all your physical and mental skills to work to score a victory against an opponent who’s trying to do the same to you. When you’re working with a trainer, he’s doing everything he can to push and challenge you, and you’re doing everything you can to keep up. John Snow, my boxing trainer at NYC’s Trinity Boxing Club, talks about boxing as a metaphor for life: whether you’re sparring or simply training, you have to man up, face your fears and go to work.

In my many years of doing athletics of all kinds, I’ve never encountered an activity that is so thoroughly exhausting as hitting a heavy bag or hitting focus mitts with a demanding trainer. There’s something about putting every ounce of your power into punching combinations — over and over and over again — for three long minutes, all while shuffling around, dodging blows and listening to the trainer’s commands. It takes everything out of me. And at the end of the workout, I feel clean, clear, reborn. On top of everything else, boxing is a great stress-buster.

I’ll never stop doing strength and cardio work. The foundation of general fitness that those activities provide is what allows me to go into John’s gym whenever I’m in New York City and mix it up without throwing my back out or giving myself a heart attack. But boxing makes my heart pound, and not just because it’s great exercise. To me, it puts me in the headspace where I want to live my life: excited, intensely focused, fired-up and ready for anything.

The Rocky movies didn’t rake in over a billion dollars at the box office because they’re about boxing. It’s because they were about spiritual transformation through physical effort. That’s what we’re all after when we go to the gym. That’s why we continue to go — even long after we’ve achieved the minimal baseline of health and fitness that keeps our doctors happy.

Craig Cooper

By Craig Cooper

Craig Cooper is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author, and TV host of CNBC's "Adventure Capitalists". He is an “Ambassador” for both the global men’s health foundation “Movember” and 2XU, the performance sportswear company. He is the author of the Harper Collins book “Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40“. Follow Craig on Instagram @craigcooperrrr and Facebook.