Don’t get us wrong, there’s a warm place in our hearts for hole-in-the-wall, slightly-run-down-but-endearing spots when it comes to neighborhood bars and 2 A.M. pizza joints, but when we’re talking boutique fitness, we’ll cop to being about that amenity life. When we got wind of Shadowbox (and saw the luxe studio plastered all over Instagram), we were pumped that boxing had finally emerged from the dungeons of dingy gyms, where the smell of workouts past is more of a knockout than anything you’d face in the ring. As much as we like our studios cushy, we like our workouts challenging; so, you can imagine our delight when Shadowbox shaped up to be an intense, demanding, yet cathartic class.

The Shadowbox team must figure that boxing isn’t necessarily routine for most boutique fitness goers, because every class we’ve attended has started off with a helpful demo of the basics. Before getting down to business, our instructor huddled with first-timers to demonstrate a boxing stance, correct form for the different punches (jab, cross, hook, uppercut, motherf*cker), and some defensive moves like ducks (squat out of our harm’s way) and slips (oblique crunch out of harm’s way). We might have looked like we knew what we were doing with our mean mugs and wraps on (muchas gracias for the remedial Shadowbox wraps that require little to no wrapping; just slide on and velcro), but we were secretly envisioning that this experience would end with us somehow punching ourselves in the face.

At first, we felt relief when class kicked off with some familiar exercises, only to be horrified a few minutes later when we were ready to call it a night after the (f*cking strenuous) warm-up of jumprope, jumping jacks, squats, squat jumps, lunges, mountain climbers, high knees, plank jacks, and tuck jumps. Just as we were starting to wonder if the heavy bags were just for show, our instructor segued into the shadowboxing segment of class, where we practiced basic punches and learned a number of (increasingly lengthy) combinations before strapping on our gloves and getting down to business. The 7, 3-minute rounds of bag work that followed were no joke, with varied focus on speed, power, and endurance. In between rounds, our instructors cued “active recovery” moves, which more often than not consisted of burpees, jump squats, mountain climbers and other plyometrics, so we thanked our lucky stars for the few static planks and crunch sequences thrown our way (a telling precursor for the final portion of class, 3-5 minutes of ab work).

We’ll be the first to admit that some of these combos took as much brain power as strength to execute (maybe more), so we really loved the final “freestyle” round where we could zone out, make it our own, and get our Ali on (by this point we had figured out how to get our bag to stay still, rather than swinging all over the place, and were feeling pretty baller). Look, after all this talk about our love of punching sh*t, we feel the need to wrap up this review with a disclaimer: We’re just a bunch of pacifists here at The Jonesing. And we think having an awesome outlet like Shadowbox helps keep it that way.

Gonna Cost You
$34/class, plus wraps ($4; these are for keeps) and gloves (these are not; $1 to rent) are both required for class. We’ve seen a number of people BYO, so that’s an option, too.

Instructor Vibe
It’s not easy to demonstrate exercises or make the rounds for hands on corrections in a room full of heavy, swinging bags, packed fairly tight together. For the most part, every instructor we’ve encountered has done a great job of being heard when they can’t be seen, and it’s their energy that allows the Shadowbox format to work as well as it does.

Studio Sitch
Between the sweet, vintage boxing ring, the in-house cafe, and locker/shower hook up, Shadowbox is pretty tricked out for any boutique fitness studio, not to mention a boxing gym.