It’s sweaty, the music is loud and the disco ball is spinning in Club 414 in Brixton. “Come on! Only 30 seconds more,” shouts founder of Boxit to the Beat, Danni Davis.
When you’re in a techno club, the last thing you’re usually thinking about is how many jabs, hooks, uppercuts, lunges and squats you’ve got left to do in a minute.
It’s 7.30pm on a Wednesday and passers-by are looking into the window wondering why 30 people are throwing punches in time with music.
“When you train to music, you push yourself that little bit more,” says Davis. “Your adrenalin kicks in and you forget you’re tired.”
Boxit to the Beat pairs a boxing-based work-out with a live DJ, in a club environment.
Davis and Boxit trainer Jennifer Warren demonstrate a set of boxing routines, which the class copies while the DJ plays a selection of upbeat house tunes.
“I adore teaching the class,” Davis enthuses. “Nine years ago, as a personal trainer, I did some work with boxing pads, and I saw results really quickly. I also love training to music and that’s why I started Boxit to the Beat. There isn’t anything else like it because we have a live DJ to work with.”
The class is a lively mix of cardio and toning exercises, starting with a warm-up routine of simple moves and exercises before, in pairs, donning the gloves and pads for the more intensive work-out.
“Working in pairs is really good because you work in a team, pushing each other,” says Davis.
Halfway through the class we do a series of core work, including various versions of sit-ups, planks and crunches, and then back to a final round of boxing.
Davis and Warren keep the room motivated with their enthusiasm, occasionally singing along and giving the odd ‘whoop’, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of being on a night out. “If exercise is fun you push yourself,” says Davis.
They are also on hand to make sure everyone is doing the routine correctly – which can be more difficult than expected if co-ordination isn’t your strong point.
Davis emphasises that the class is designed for all abilities, from beginners to those who can really throw a punch.
“The thing is you can work as hard as your own limits will allow. It is for any ability because we demonstrate all the moves and you work as hard as you can.”
On the whole the class is made up of women, although there is a small number of men there.
“I do have some regular guys, but the class is mainly female because generally women prefer group exercise,” she says. “One of the guys plays Aussie Rules football – it’s a great work-out for strength, stamina and cardio.”
First-timer Bex tells me: “I came with a friend to try it out, I have never done a class like this and I loved it. Doing exercise in a club is great – it doesn’t feel like the gym and I don’t think I have ever worked-out this hard.”
Anna is a regular. She says: “I’ve been doing this since the class started and I can really feel the difference because you work every part of your body. The DJ keeps you going for longer.”
After several sets of star jumps, bounces, squats and punches, I’m exhausted, but still bouncing to the beat. To be honest, if I had been in a gym class I probably would have tried to sneak to the back and waved my arms a bit in an attempt to pretend I’m doing the exercises properly.
Davis says her ambition is to expand the classes out across all of London. It might sound ambitious, but the draw is similar to Zumba: a fun, social exercise class.
The next day my body hurts, but in a good way. I’m a convert.