PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) –The constraints of COVID-19 left a lot of people looking for alternative fitness routines.

Now that restrictions are easing up, more people are finding themselves back in the gym but with a different kind of workout — boxing!

Trent Banks is the owner of Don’t Blink Boxing and MMA in Pensacola. He says, “It’s one of the best cardio exercises you can do, from the punch combination to footwork to the movement part of it. The heart rate goes up the heart rate goes down and all of your muscles are engaged. Your heart and your lungs are engaged.”

With that information, it would come as no surprise that boxing is a popular workout. But in the last year or so the boxing clientele has “stepped out of the box.”

Gyms are seeing more and more female clients looking for a new way to get and stay fit. Many are signing up for boxing lessons, not to get in the ring necessarily, but to work on their bodies.

Nikki Cagle says “It’s a workout where I’m not worried about people watching me or I don’t know how to work a machine or the same old cardio that we’re doing every day. And it’s definitely fun!”

Lauren Buck has been boxing for several years and says it’s a great overall workout, “You have the footwork, the placement, you have hand placement, you’re moving your hips, so it’s a whole-body workout.”

Banks, and his clients, say boxing is also about strengthening the mind. “People don’t understand how much brain work is involved in boxing,” he says, adding, “it’s not just remembering the combinations, but to move properly and have your feet set properly.”

Lauren adds, “It’s a visual challenge, but also an auditory challenge and you have to engage all of the senses to understand what’s happening.”

“I want to get stronger, I want to get better, I want to be able to have more self-defense for me because I’m smaller,” says Nikki.

And using boxing moves to protect yourself in a dangerous situation can be useful, says Banks. “Just the confidence of knowing you can defend yourself, that’s huge.”

Banks adds boxing helps with the spirit. “Everbody has stuff,” says Banks, “and we tend to bottle it up with no way to let it out.”

Boxing is a healthy outlet says Banks, and clients agree. “I’m not an angry person, says Lauren, “but usually when I punch a bag it just releases pent-up aggression, I never knew I had.” She says women should not feel intimidated about taking boxing lessons in a class setting or with a trainer. ”If you come in and you don’t know any of the positions for punches, I guarantee by the end of the day, you’re going to know all 6 positions.”

Lauren says shadow boxing at home is a good way to get a workout if you are still unsure about going into a gym due to covid concerns.

Depending on whether you are shadowing boxing, boxing with a bag or mitts, or with another person, athletic experts say a good boxing workout can burn anywhere from 350 to 800 calories an hour!