Boxing for fitness (not blood) has become all the rage on the New York City fitness scene over the past year, with models like Adriana Lima and Romee Strijd praising the workout for its lean-muscle building effect and several new spots opening or adding boxing classes to their existing schedules.
But the long-anticipated Shadowbox, which just opened on May 18, is polishing up the discipline and making it luxe and pretty in a whole new way.
“Most boxing places take pride in grunginess,” says founder Daniel Glazer. “To us, that flies in the face of what the modern fitness movement is all about. Our tagline is ‘evolving the sweet science.’ We’re taking boxing and evolving it to the next century.” And the future serves green juice after class.
We stopped by the new space for a sneak-peek sweat session and a tour, so you know what to expect before slipping on your gloves at Shadowbox for the first time.
Checking in at Shadowbox felt more like gearing up for a Flywheel class than a session at Gleason’s, especially since you “book your bag” in advance like you would a spin bike.
The decor is clean and polished, with high ceilings and a Restoration Hardware vibe, and at the front, there’s a small check-in desk and a place to pick up wraps and gloves. (Note: If you don’t BYO, wraps are $3 to buy and gloves are $1 to rent, which adds a hefty $4 to the $34 class price.) There’s also a small juice and coffee bar selling Jus By Julie, Mindful Juice, Intelligentsia Coffee, and Kilogram Tea. (Glazer says the juice brands may change periodically.)
A boxing ring with an awesome vintage vibe via raw ropes and a canvas floor (for small-group and private sessions) leads the way back to the main studio. The group boxing studio itself is an enclosed, soundproofed room filled with 4o numbered heavy bags, and each bag has an attachment to hold your towel, water, and gloves.
In the men’s and women’s locker rooms, you’ll find digital lockers, C.O. Bigelow products, showers, and hairdryers, but little space to get ready other than the sink (i.e. it’s prime for post-class makeup mirror battles).
Shadowbox’s approach is to take the basic tenets of modern boxing and apply them to fun 45-minute group workouts. “So many exercise classes—like riding a stationary bike—can easily be emotionless,” founder Daniel Glazer explains. “It’s only when you add the energy and theatrics that you get this incredible experience. Boxing already has such passion and emotion embedded in it. Our job was easy: to create that same group class environment in a boxing workout.”
To do that, the signature studio class starts with a dark room and loud, thumping music and mixes heavy-bag boxing with cardio conditioning and plyometrics. We started with movements that jack your heart rate up like burpees, high-knees, and mountain climbers, and then moved to the bags for punches. The instructor called out different moves and added upon previous ones to create a sort of boxing choreography. It ended with ab work on the floor and a short stretch session.
The class flew by and the darkness and high-energy music did a great job at getting the class pumped-up and feeling bad-ass, but at the back of the class, it was sometimes hard to see the instructor (which might be tricky for beginners, since there was no “how to punch” tutorial).
Shadowbox also offers small-group sessions and private training in the ring, which may be a good place to hone your skills. Although at this rate, it feels like everyone in the city will have mastered the jab-cross-uppercut before long. —Jamie McKillop
Shadowbox, $34 per class, 28 W. 20th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves., Flatiron, New York, New York, 10011, (646) 666-0756, www.shadowboxnyc.com
(Photos: Coty Tarr)