Sure, we know how to box. At least, we know how to haphazardly swing our mitts into figments of our own imagination while our feet do a Jazzercise-inspired bounce on the living room carpet.

Really, what we do is maybe more of a boxing-themed dance, and no real indication of our ability to successfully land a punch, dodge an opponent, or last more than 48 seconds in the ring before collapsing out of breath.

But for folks who want to learn to box – and I mean REALLY learn – there’s an excellent intro class on Saturdays at Portland Boxing Club.

Portland Boxing Club. Shannon Bryan photo
Inside Portland Boxing Club before the Saturday intro class begins. Shannon Bryan photo

During the hour-and-a-half drop-in class, which runs from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturdays, participants are taught the foundations of boxing, from proper stance and positioning to the right form for a jab and how to move forward and back and keep your gloves up by your face. There’s lots of conditioning, too – jumping rope and some burpees and time working the bags – that’ll leave your clothes drenched in sweat. And, of course, practice on the speed bags (if you’ve ever watched someone who knows what they’re doing, the speed bag looks like a breeze. It isn’t. I spent most of my time with it whiffing it completely).

But first things first: Learning how to properly wrap your hands.

Instructor Liz Leddy helps a participant wrap his hands at the beginning of the intro class at Portland Boxing Club. Shannon Bryan photo

Also really cool: This class is taught by Liz Leddy, three-time National Golden Gloves champion. She’s an amazing boxer, so you’re learning from the best, and she’s also a really welcoming and good-humored teacher. As she demonstrates particular movements from the boxing ring at the center of the gym, she’ll call out “that looks good, you’ve got it,” or offer adjustments and pointers where needed.

A few other members of the coaching staff help out, taking time to work one-on-one with participants and making sure everyone’s got a good handle on the skill at hand.

In fact, everyone here was really welcoming when I stepped through the door for the first time a few weeks back.

Liz Leddy in the ring leading the intro class at Portland Boxing Club. Shannon Bryan photo
The intro class includes some conditioning – like jumping rope. Shannon Bryan photo
A new participant gets some pointers from PBC coaching staff. Shannon Bryan photo
Practicing footwork during the intro class at Portland Boxing Club. Shannon Bryan photo

This Saturday class is a primer for becoming a member at Portland Boxing Club. (So you might take the class a few times as you’re getting the hang of the basics, but most will quickly graduate out of it. It’s not meant to be a regular “fitness boxing” class like you might see at area gyms).

This Level 1 class is chance to learn skills, try boxing and get a feel for the place, the people, and boxing in general. It’s also a prerequisite for general membership hours (so you might take this class a few times as you’re getting a hang of the basics, but most people will quickly graduate out of it. This is not a regular Saturday boxing class that you’d attend regularly).

At the class I attended, most were inside PBC for the very first time (myself included). A few had taken the class a couple of times before and were given the green light to become members. Membership costs include a $75 intro fee (includes gloves) and then $25 a month.

Liz Leddy demonstrates slip rope training. Shannon Bryan photo
Working the speed bag. Shannon Bryan photo

If you’re interested in getting into boxing – this is an excellent opportunity to get your feet wet.

Drop-in intro boxing class

2-3:30 p.m. Saturdays
Portland Boxing Club, Portland
$10 drop-in (cash)
+ Once you’ve attended a few times and have the basics down, you’ll get the green light to become a Portland Boxing Club Member ($75 into fee, then $25 a month).
+ To get to Portland Boxing Club: Follow sign for Portland Boxing Club and enter the Bruno’s parking lot, drive toward the back of the lot and follow the dirt road to PBC.

Portland Boxing Club. Shannon Bryan photo

This post was first published on Nov. 23, 2018