Pret-a-Reporter

Inside L.A.'s Hot New Fitness Spot: The SoulCycle for Boxing

Courtesy of BoxUnion

Jennifer Garner and 'Baywatch' actress Charlotte McKinney have been spotted at BoxUnion in Santa Monica.

There's nothing more satisfying than punching the hell out of a boxing bag, especially when you're feeling extra stressed. And if you've been on the hunt for a new workout space to get rid of said stress (or to just break a serious sweat), you're in luck.

Located at 1755 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, BoxUnion is a contemporary boxing studio that offers 45-minute shadowboxing, heavy bag drill and high-intensity group classes. The studio, designed by Glen Bell of DEX Studio (best known for his work at the Sugarfish restaurants), is co-founded by Felicia Alexander, who previously served as the director of sales and marketing of Sony Cierge at Sony Corp of America, and Todd Wadler, co-founder of boutique investment bank Moelis & Co.

Upon walking into my first class, my immediate reaction was, "This reminds me of SoulCycle, but for boxing." With soft lighting and upbeat tunes, the studio offers individual custom foam-water heavy bags for each person taking the class.

At first, the loud music feels overwhelming (or maybe I'm just old), but then I realized, it's probably best to keep it at a high volume — no one else needs to hear how much I'm struggling to catch my breath. "It's as if the music tricks the mind into being less tired so you push beyond what you typically think would be possible," says Wadler, whose studio has seen Jennifer Garner and Baywatch actress Charlotte McKinney drop by.

An encouraging instructor kicked off the class with jumping jacks, knee-high kicks and a number of plyometric exercises that had my heart racing in no time, before going over the basic boxing combinations (like the 1-2 jab-cross). Once he went over the various moves, it was time to put on our boxing gloves (no worries, if you don't already own a pair — the studio offers gloves for rent, as well as wraps for a fee). Though the instructor warned against expending too much energy in the first couple of minutes of the last 25 minutes we had left in the class for the heavy bag drills, it was hard not to feel like I needed to punch the bag as hard as I could each time. But it didn't take me long to realize I needed to go easier on the 1-2-3 jab-cross-left hook combo. There were still 23 minutes left, after all.

After a couple more boxing combos that focused on speed, and a few push-ups and planks thrown in between, we cooled down with stretches. By the end of it, I was practically ready to crash on the rubber floor. The workout kicked my behind more than I'd like to admit, but we all have to start somewhere, right? And you can bet I felt it all over my body the next day.

Though I would have preferred more emphasis on form (private coaching is also offered at the studio), the best part of the 45-minute session was being able to just get in the zone and focus on myself, while still being surrounded by a supportive group of people who were all just trying to get in a good punch, too.

BoxUnion, 1755 Ocean Ave. Suite 104, Santa Monica, 310-882-5508; boxunion.com. A first timer package starts at $30.

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