Have you made a resolution to start a new martial art or fitness program this year?
Have you joined a gym, hired a trainer, or picked a workout plan?
And now are you wondering what gear you’ll need for your first sessions?
This is the blog for you.
(If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry! You can check out this post on making and keeping resolutions when you’re not feeling your best and circle back here when you’re ready.)
To help make the first steps of your new training journey a little easier, we’ve taken three popular styles of training and made a bare essentials shopping list. We’ll look at the very first items you’ll need for your introductory session and make some recommendations for your next steps.
Boxing and Kickboxing
Maybe you’re signing up for cardio kickboxing. Or starting boxing lessons with the goal of trying an amateur bout when you’re ready. Or maybe you’ll start punching things for fitness, catch the fighting bug, and decide to see if you can be a contender. Whatever the case, if your resolution involves throwing hands, these are the pieces of gear you’ll need to learn how.
- The essentials: If your training is going to involve striking anything other than air—think heavy bags, focus pads, or even sparring opponents—you will need to use handwraps. These small pieces of fabric punch well above their weight when it comes to keeping you safe and healthy during training. They keep the soft tissue and small bones in your hands and wrists properly supported so that you can strike with speed and power without hurting yourself in the process. Even if you’re not hitting anything, handwraps also absorb excess sweat during training, which can keep your hands feeling a lot more comfortable in your gloves during shadowboxing, boxercise, and cardio kickboxing sessions.
- The next step: You can get your first pair of boxing gloves right away. This is a good choice for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable using gym gloves that other people have touched—or anyone who’s really excited about getting their own gloves. But if you’re the type of person who wants to do more research first, you can also wait a little while. Put in a few training hours. Ask your instructors and training partners for their advice. Figure out what size and type of glove works best for you. Then go for it.
Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Karate, and Tae Kwon Do
Maybe your resolution involves learning how to leverage your body in order to throw or choke an opponent instead. Or maybe you’re interested in a different philosophy and style of striking. Whatever your goal, if it involves training in a traditional uniform, these are the items you’ll need when you first step onto the mats.
- The essentials: For both practical and symbolic reasons, all uniformed martial arts training begins with getting yourself a white belt. From a functional perspective, you’ll need that belt to keep your uniform together for more effective training. Depending on your discipline and your instructors, you might also need it as a prop for drills like assisted sprints and stretches. Symbolically, the proper wearing of a belt demonstrates your commitment to your sensei and your training partners. And the white belt represents the start of a journey. Which is the perfect way to begin a new resolution.
- The next step: At some point in your martial arts career, you will need to invest in your first martial arts uniform. The timing of that purchase will depend on a number of factors. First, you should check with your gym to see what their policy is regarding uniforms. If they require that you bring your own—or a martial arts uniform is included in your sign up package—then you’ll need to get that gi or dobok right away. If your gym has loaner uniforms, then it’s up to how you feel. If you’d be more comfortable in your own gear, you can invest in a uniform immediately. If you’d prefer to see how you feel and do some more research before you buy, you’ve got a little time to figure out what the perfect option for you will be.
Or maybe you don’t want to join a gym or class at all. Maybe your resolution involves bringing the gym to you. If your plan for the new year involves any kind of at-home fitness or martial arts training—including cardio, strength and conditioning, solo drills, or flexibility work—these items will help you and your home get ready for that first session.
- The essentials: A set of jigsaw mats is the perfect foundation for almost any physical training you can do within the comfort of your own home. It provides the right level of support for your body during any floor-based moves in solo BJJ drills, bodyweight exercises, yoga, Pilates, and stretching. It’s much easier on your feet than carpet or hardwood flooring if you’re doing any barefoot training. And it protects your floors when scrapes and dents if you’re working with equipment like dumbbells and kettlebells.
- The next step: Once you’ve got the foundation for your at-home workouts set up, you can start to think about what other equipment you’d like to train with. For boxing and kickboxing-based workouts, that could be a freestanding heavy bag. For wrestling and other grapplings drills, you could look into a grappling dummy to help you with some of the partner moves that don’t easily translate to solo training. And for fitness and cross-training, you can never go wrong with a medicine ball.