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Boxing workout takes little space but offers intense cardio


When working on a yacht, I always try to find different ways to stay fit with what is available onboard. Sometimes we are not spoiled with machines or a whole floor full of free weights or a yog

Ship Shape's Melissa McMahon shows that boxing workout takes little space but offers intense cardio.

Ship Shape’s Melissa McMahon shows that boxing workout takes little space but offers intense cardio.

a studio. There may be a gym onboard, but that is the owner’s space, and unfortunately, crew are not allowed the luxury of using it. (But if yours does, I’m jealous.)

Instead, sometimes we get the tech space, that small, tight, claustrophobic space with the giant high fog system right next to us. It’s located below deck toward the bow, and when at sea with big waves, it becomes quite the space to stay balanced. That can make the workout so much more interesting, especially when giving a go at boxing.

Boxing has been our prime exercise at sea. My crew members and I split the cost of a boxing bag that we hung down in the tech space. Boxing burns about 700 calories an hour, depending on how intensely it’s done. It is the best cardio/strength exercise, in my opinion. Talk about sweating.

When on charter, I head down to the tech space on my break to do at least 45 minutes of boxing. Here’s

how I do it: I pick a favorite workout song and blast it. I wrap my knuckles to prevent them from getting all ripped up, and then put gloves on. For the entire song, I just keep punching the bag without stopping. My shoulders will burn, and I sweat for sure. The trick is not to cheat, to last the whole song. To make it easier, I try not punching as hard, just quicker with my punches. Then, at the end of the song, I give it all I’ve got. Punches should be hard and fast, and my heart rate will be in fat-burning levels.

For those who can’t have a bag onboard, the options are even better. Get a crew member to hold boxing striking pads. Start off with just ones, which are one-hand jabs, and switch. Then try one-twos (both hands) and rotate back and forth.

My favorite is threes, which is right, left, right (lower right). Left, right, left works, too. With each set, I start at a reasonable pace and then speed up. Upper cuts are another type of punch.

With striking pads, crew can exercise anywhere. Try it out on the sundeck or even on the dock. The outside views we have as yachties can’t be beat.

Boxing works the core muscles hard. Watch some videos online of boxers boxing for a better understanding of what it looks like. Make a workout calendar to be organized and stay focused. Boxing is hard exercise; don’t forget to take one or two days of rest each week.

Melissa McMahon of Long Island, N.Y., is a stew onboard a 230-foot motoryacht who loves to workout as she travels. Comments are welcome at

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