You did it. You signed up for that in-demand kickboxing class you'd been hearing about for months and now are poised to kick butt in your first fat-blasting session. Way to go. When researchers at the University of Mississippi measured caloric expenditure of cardio kickboxing they found upper-body boxing torches 6.45 calories per minute, while kickboxing, which combines upper- and lower-body moves, zaps 8.3 calories per minute. Now, let's get you squared away with the proper equipment so you'll be charged for your first Kung Fu power session. Bare minimum, you'll need boxing gloves, but hand wraps are also strongly recommended.
The best boxing gloves for beginners are hook and loop style, which have Velcro closures instead of lacing up. After sweaty workouts, you don't want to fool with gloves. With hook-and-loop gloves you won't have to. You can easily slip them on and off by yourself -- especially useful for solo bag workouts in the garage. Try on gloves at the sporting goods store with wrapped hands to ensure a comfortable fit. Look for wrist support without tightness. Boxing glove sizes go by your size and height. "If you have small hands, try 12-ounce, 14-ounce, or for full protection, 16-ounce gloves," says David Waters, AFFA certified personal trainer and pro mixed martial arts fighter. "Using 10-ounce gloves will put your hands at risk."
Wearing wraps, while technically optional, is highly recommended, especially for beginners. Wraps protect your hands, namely your knuckles, and wrists from injury. You can also find these at sporting goods stores. You'll want to wrap your hands with these before trying on boxing gloves to ensure the proper fit. "Wraps are essential," says Waters, who has broken his hand while sparring without wraps. "Make sure you get long wraps -- 160 to 180 -- for plenty of protection and to help fill out the gloves," he adds. There are many instructive videos online that can demonstrate how to properly wrap your hands, or arrive early to your first class and ask your instructor to demonstrate.
Try on different sizes and styles of boxing gloves, from vinyl to leather, pink to red, at a local sporting goods store, where you will have the most options available to you and a knowledgeable staff to pummel with questions. Once you identify the fit, style and level of protection that feels most comfortable to you, take notes and shop online to save money. Don't just stick to recognizable household brands you may have heard of, but look for high-quality materials, such as gloves made of leather, if these are within your price range. Avoid purchasing gloves at the lowest price point. Your hands deserve more protection than that.
A good pair of beginner boxing gloves will cost $80 to $100 but you can find a cheaper pair of gloves that is still high in quality, if you are just going to one or two classes a week, for $40 to $50. Yes, you can also find gloves that cost less, but when going below $40 you are juggling with quality and get a lower degree of protection. These are your hands we're talking about here, so you don't want to gamble on quality. Store your new boxing gloves in a cool, dry place.
Julie D. Andrews is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in print or on the websites of "Prevention," "Glamour," "Fitness," "Shape," "Cosmopolitan Latina," "Elle" and "New York Magazine."