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- Exercise has felt like an awkward, anxiety-provoking obligation for most of my life.
- Rumble Boxing completely changed my way of thinking by creating a safe and encouraging environment.
- The high-energy group class allows me to enjoy working out, building strength, and relieving stress.
As a service journalist, the products and services that stand out enough from the crowd to have a long-term, positive impact hold extra value. Practicing what I preach isn’t just a perk of the job, it’s a necessity. Which is why I can’t say enough about Rumble Boxing — a high energy, HIIT-style class that fuses boxing and floor work.
In my three years of regularly attending Rumble’s classes, it’s benefitted my mental and physical health while also teaching me countless new skills along the way. But there was a time when I’d have cringed at the idea of stepping one foot into the studio.
Grappling with exercise anxiety
Growing up with a trademark awkwardness that hardly went unnoticed, I’d always been anxious about entering a space where mistakes are inevitable. Boutique fitness classes are often comprised of devotees loyal to their specific workout, and this kind of setting was so overwhelming that the concept alone created enough anxiety to keep me away.
So, when two of my closest friends invited me to a Rumble Boxing class, I was terrified — but it helped to have two always encouraging, never judgmental people in my corner. My anxiety didn’t exactly dissipate between agreeing to attend the class and actually showing up. Upon noticing a few of those aforementioned devotees in the locker room, my uneasiness hit its peak. But then something incredible happened.
As I left the locker room and entered the class, my anxieties began to subside. Among the swaying punching bags in the dimly-lit studio, I immediately felt supported by the instructor and unnoticed by those around me — I was also incredibly proud of myself.
Rumble is a welcome space for everyone
That comforting environment is exactly what sets Rumble apart from other group boxing classes. Mixes of popular music blast through the studio’s speakers and the lights remain off for the entirety of each class. Only the session’s trainer, who works out on a lit stage, is able to be seen by everyone.
While a few friends who’ve since accompanied me to a class found this overwhelming, I personally appreciate the overstimulation. I struggle to silence my mind, but with so much going on in class, I’m forced to focus entirely on each exercise in order to do it successfully.
It’s also been a blessing in disguise for my anxiety, as I’ve finally found something that stops my mind from racing — even if it’s for just 45 minutes at a time. Plus, working out in a dark room with loud music assures that no one is focusing on me, granting me space to embrace my own awkwardness as I learn.
What to expect from a Rumble workout
Each Rumble class is structured in a similar way. Throughout a 10-round, 45-minute session, there are five rounds of boxing and five rounds of floor work. The sessions begin with the instructor explaining the class structure and teaching everyone the six basic punches: Jab, cross, front and back hook, and front and back uppercut.
Each punch is assigned a corresponding number and various combinations of those six punches are taught throughout each round. The trainer always verbally explains new combinations as they’re introduced, while graphics projected above the studio’s mirrors remind participants of which punches to focus on.
Since the routine only pits you against a punching a bag (as opposed to working with a partner), I felt much more comfortable learning through trial and error. I knew I’d be unable to hurt anyone else in the room and could work through the combination of punches at my own pace.
The floor portion of the class consists of a series of exercises involving dumbbells and brass knuckle weights. Similar to the boxing section, the instructor explains and physically demonstrates each exercise before allowing the class to try them on their own. There are also gifs of a trainer doing each exercise, as well as graphics projected on the walls.
If a trainer notices someone in danger of hurting themselves or using improper technique, adjustments are provided. It took me a while to learn how to properly do each floor exercise, so I greatly appreciated the trainer feedback. I also found it comforting that they’d remove their microphones when speaking to me. Being publicly called out for an adjustment would’ve made me anxious enough to leave, and I could tell Rumble’s trainers were cognizant of this.
A new perspective on fitness
Going to the gym used to feel like an obligation but now I actively look forward to attending a Rumble class each week. It’s reframed my thinking to better understand that working out is a privilege — one I’m now incredibly grateful for. Boxing has proven to be a healthy coping mechanism for the pent-up frustration that often accompanies my anxiety, and the rush of endorphins makes a noticeable difference in my day-to-day.
This newfound outlook on fitness didn’t appear out of thin air, though. Instead, it was a perfect storm of the nature of the class and the support received from those teaching it. The constant motivation and validation from Rumble’s various trainers taught me to genuinely value progress over perfection, replacing insecurity about how much I have to learn with pride for how much I’ve improved.
After taking a class, I spoke with Rachel Oyama, the manager of Rumble’s Flatiron, New York location whose classes I often attend. We discussed her approach to creating a validating environment, to which she credits inclusivity and authenticity. Her approach to teaching each session allows those in attendance to feel completely in control of their workout.
Minutes after you enter the studio, Rachel encourages modification of any exercise that feels uncomfortable. She makes an effort to understand where members are on their fitness journey while assuring that her classes are digestible for clients of any skill level.
Rachel’s authenticity shines through the sharing of personal anecdotes, the music she chooses to put on, and acknowledging the harder moments of each class as they come. Based on my experiences with other trainers, it’s clear that Rumble’s training style echoes Rachel’s sentiments.
Of course, no fitness experience is perfect
Though Rumble forever changed the way I view personal fitness, it also added an additional expense to my budget — and it’s not exactly cheap. With single classes in New York costing $38 per session, attending two or three times a week starts to add up. Newcomers do have the ability to cash in on a two-for-one deal, and bulk packages or subscriptions help reduce the overall cost-per-class, but to go often requires a substantial investment.
I think it’s vitally important to also recognize that fitness isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of experience. Signing up for a gym membership or popping into a spin class isn’t the only way to break a sweat. This is why I also understand that while Rumble’s been instrumental in reshaping my own view on exercise, it might not be the right fit for everyone.
Being hesitant for either reason is a natural drawback. Instead of forgoing Rumble altogether, I recommend booking a session via ClassPass. The fixed monthly cost of a ClassPass subscription can decrease the price per class significantly, while also allowing you to diversify your fitness experiences to learn what empowers you best.
The bottom line
Eight months ago, I’d have never expected that the boxing class I took on a whim would so positively impact my physical and mental health. Be it the incredibly high energy environment ironically silencing my mind, the positive validation from trainers, or the empowerment I feel while reflecting on how much I’ve grown, I can’t recommend Rumble Boxing more highly.