How to Find a Good Boxing Gym or Boxing Trainer
At some point in your development as a boxer, you will have to find a boxing gym or boxing trainer that you can work with and let them take you to the next level. As I've mentioned on this site over and over, you can only learn so many skills needed to box from a book or website.
Commando Boxing is great if you're trying to get in shape or just learn basic boxing skills, but at some point, you actually have to box and you need a boxing gym or trainer to arrange fights, venues, and generally manage your boxing progression. You will learn more from a good trainer in one session than you will from every website or book out there.
Disengage and Specialize
As a boxer, you have enough to worry about in regards to doing your daily boxing training schedule to worry about the business side of things. Not saying you should disengage yourself completely, but trying to do both is probably not a good idea.
The main reason for this is that you will naturally take it easy on yourself no matter how dedicated you think you are. It is easy to train really hard, according to your standards, arrange yourself a boxing match at a local boxing gym (assuming you have taken care of all the paperwork involved) and then quickly find out that maybe your boxing training regime was not quite as good as the one your opponent had. It is much much easier to have a boxing gym or trainer push you to your limits than try to reach them yourself.
You're not Superman
Also, there is the invincibility factor. After a few months of boxing workouts and tough boxing training sessions, you will quickly think you can take on the world. It's natural, especially if you have any sort of competitiveness or aggressive attitude in you. You need a boxing coach to keep that in check and to put you in your place when required. Boxing is supposed to be an honorable sport and there are already enough bozos in the ring. Boxing will thrive if everyone has the right attitude and is not trying to take advantage of one another.
There are good boxing gyms and bad boxing gyms. There are good boxing trainers and bad boxing trainers. Problem is, they are not all bad for all people and they are not all good for all people. You have to find a boxing gym or trainer that is compatible with you. So, how do you do that?
Hopefully after reading this you will discover for yourself what makes a good boxing gym in your mind and what kind of boxing trainer you are looking for. It is a personal choice, but it is a personal choice that needs to be built on a solid foundation.
Minimum Boxing Gym and Trainer Requirements
Ideally the best boxing trainers work at a local dedicated boxing club. However, that is not always the case. In some cases boxing trainers offer private lessons from their homes or at a local rec center. At any rate, their are certain minimum requirements you should look for when analyzing a potential boxing trainer:
The boxing gyms' trainers or independent trainer should be a certified boxing coach in your area
You could overlook this requirement if the boxing trainer in question has a well known reputation as a trainer, but in cases where you have never heard of the individual, this is your check to ensure the boxing trainer has the necessary skills and basic fundamentals to teach.
I can only speak from what I know about the certification process in Ontario, Canada. Here, there are 5 levels of certification with level 5 being required to coach Olympic level boxing. Levels 1-3 require the potential boxing trainer to pass three components at each level: Theory, Technical, and Practical with the practical portion being a minimum of 1 year actual coaching experience in registered gym. You cannot buy boxing coach certifications off the internet, at least here in Ontario.
Thus, with a recognized certification, you can be reasonably assured that your potential boxing trainer has at least some knowledge of the sport he or she is trying to teach.
The boxing gym or trainer should have liability insurance
You want a boxing trainer who can think of the little things and handle the business side as well as teach you what you need to know. If they have liability insurance and put their business policies in writing, it is a good indication that they are organized and know at least a little about the business side of boxing. This is important because hopefully they will be managing you as well as training you (unless you are going to hunt down a manager as well). They will arrange fights for you and you have to ensure they have your best interests in mind.
Okay, my potential boxing gym or trainer meets the minimum requirements, Now What?
Anyone with the desire can go out and learn what they need to learn and pass the tests they need to pass in order to become a certified boxing coach. That does not mean that all boxing gyms and boxing trainers are equal. Assuming your prospective coach has met the minimum requirements, the next thing you need to do is find out if he or she can actually teach.
Motivation and Respect
Your boxing gym and trainer has to be able to motivate you and push you beyond your limits. He or she must be someone who you can respect and above all, they must be someone who can teach. What good is someone full of knowledge if they cannot communicate that knowledge to you in a way you will understand? Boxing is the sweet science and there is an abundance to learn.
By the same token, if you cannot respect your trainer for one reason or another, will you actually listen to him or her when they are yelling at you to get your hands up when you are so tired you can barely stand and experiencing pain you cannot imagine? Will that boxing trainer be able to fire you up in the corner so you can carry on for another round when every muscle in your body is telling you to stop, lie down, and call it a day?
Just a quick note on respect, be careful not to judge a boxing trainer on appearance alone. Initially I had the notion in my head that in order to teach boxing, a trainer should be a championship boxer himself. They had to be in top physical condition, ready to fight at a second's notice and be able to take anyone who walked into the gym. In actuality, some of the best trainers I've had are overweight, old, and no longer fight.
I have many theories on why this is. Perhaps, they no longer have something to prove every time they walk in the gym so they can focus on what really matters - their students. Maybe over the years, the things they have seen and the experiences they have lived through matter more than their current physical state? I don't know, but what you have to figure out is if they can teach.
To do that, watch them in action. Go to their boxing gym or wherever they are training boxers and watch how they work. You will quickly determine if it is someone you can work with or not. If you cannot watch them, then find out who they are training and ask them about their teaching style. Remember, this boxing trainer is going to be someone who is responsible for how well you do in the ring. You want the best you can get. Surround yourself with talented help and you will be talented. The reverse is also true.
Being in the military, I have had the opportunity to move around a lot and everytime I do I have to find another boxing gym and another boxing trainer. You will quickly find that not every boxing trainer trains the same way and they all will insist their way is better than someone else's. Look through that. All you really need to know is if that particular boxing trainer can teach you something new, something you do not already know or are they capable of pushing your conditioning to a higher level. If the answer is no, then leave.
It's All Business...
There is no reason you have to choose or stick to a particular trainer. You are not married. It is a business transaction. Admittedly, over time a certain loyalty builds up which goes both ways, but remember that you have to train to win. If that isn't happening, maybe it's time for a change.
The price tag for a boxing gym or boxing trainer will vary greatly. It is not always the best indicator of how talented a trainer is and shouldn't weigh heavily on your list of reasons to hire someone. Obviously, you have to be able to afford the person you are hiring. Typical trainers depending on areas cost anywhere from $15/hour to over a $100/hour, so shop around. Find the trainer who is doing it because he loves the sport and not for the money and you will probably find a winner.