Anthony Joshua’s boxing gym is the best fight club in Britain

Anthony Joshua’s “passion project” is a boxing gym like no other. I spent two months training at BXR, and this is what I learned

An Anthony Joshua-endorsed boxing gym had to be good. Not just good, but a knockout. The heavyweight of boxing gyms, if you will. So when GQ discovered that a new boutique boxing concept, backed by AJ himself, was opening on Chiltern Street, London back in February, the bar had been set to sky-high before I even stepped through the door.

The first thing you’ll notice about the “Anthony Joshua” gym, otherwise known as BXR, is the potent smell of leather and aftershave that circulates the sleek space. Split over two floors and decked out in dark wood, the vibe is more gentlemen’s club than gym. The walls downstairs are adorned with a mammoth TV and plenty of cool art, including a particularly eye-catching shot of Emily Ratajkowski. It’s here you’ll find Sweat By BXR, a set of three pay-to-train studios concentrating on boxing skills, strength and conditioning and cardio respectively, and the in-house clinic.

Upstairs is the member’s floor, which is where I spent the entirety of my intensive two-month training course. BXR challenges members to “train like a champion”, and that’s exactly what one, very unfit, completely inexperienced GQ staffer signed up to do. After meeting with BXR’s head honchos, it was decided that the best course of action would be one one-on-one boxing session and one strength and conditioning session per week, plus a couple of the group classes (of which there are usually three a day) thrown in for good measure.
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If head boxing coach Gary Logan can’t teach you how to deliver a punch of professional standards, no one can. Logan’s been training top clients (including a number of celebrities) since he retired from professional boxing. He’s one of those rare teachers that manages to pull off being incredibly strict and also making learning hilariously fun at the same time. But for all the laughs, in my first session, I discovered that boxing is a lot more complicated than it looks, and that any chances of us actually sparring sometime in the foreseeable future were pretty much nil. Another revelation was that it’s not all just in the arms – boxing is an amazing full body workout, and you’ll definitely be feeling it in your legs the day after a session.

Logan’s mantra – “it’s all in the details” – is one to train by. I realised very quickly that boxing is seriously intricate (Logan and the other BXR coaches refer to it as a martial art) and requires attention to very particular movements. Footwork, for example, is essential, especially if you want to pack a powerful left-hook. Another detail that Logan is completely obsessive about is keeping your hands up by your jaw at all times, and for good reason. Think of your gloves as your guard; no one wants to get smacked straight in the face.

After a couple of sessions at the Anthony Joshua gym, I managed to get into our stride. The better you get, the more fulfilling it becomes, and attending the classes in-between one-on-one sessions certainly made progressing week-to-week with Logan far easier. Some of the classes focus specifically on boxing skills, other are all about conditioning. Chris Baugh’s class in particular is a killer. Think rowing like a lunatic, kettlebells you can barely pick up and more motivational shouting than you’d hear from an overzealous preacher. That makes it sound awful, but it’s awful in the way that only a truly effective 45-minute workout can be.

Kettlebells featured heavily in the strength and conditioning side of our training programme. I was whipped into shape by James Collins, one of the multiple S&C coaches at BXR and a shining example of everything a personal trainer should be. Quite laid back in personality, but not afraid to put the pressure on with some hardcore active encouragement, enviably good-looking and most-importantly, a professional who really knows his shit. James is big on weights. I deadlifted, I shoulder-pressed and I curled, all in-between TRX suspension training, planks, elevated rear leg squats and every other conceivable form of horror dreamt up by exercise enthusiasts.

It was hard, but it worked. Within a mere month, I felt fitter, stronger and a whole lot less pathetic than I did at the start of the process. It’s not difficult to see why Anthony Joshua’s training programme – plus that of every other professional athlete – incorporates so much strength and conditioning work. Doing weights will massively improve your boxing, and for us mere mortals, combining the cardio and coordination aspects of fighting with strengthening activities is a straightforward route to optimum, attainable fitness levels.

And if you’re more of a lover than a fighter, don’t worry: you don’t have to be into boxing to train at BXR. Sure, pugilism is the focus, but it’s by no means a prerequisite; there’s more than enough state-of-the-art equipment to suit gentlemen who don’t fancy slipping on a pair of gloves. Plus, there’s the Sweat By BXR classes, which include the country’s first versa-climber class and S&C training. That said, once you’ve seen people of all ages, shapes and sizes holding their own in the professional-sized boxing ring, you’ll be sure to catch the adrenaline-fuelled bug and want to give it a go yourself. You might even catch a glimpse of AJ. During our time training there I spotted Ellie Goulding, Hector Bellerin and Victoria’s Secret models Sara Sampaio and Maryna Linchuk, who are both on the committee along with Eddie Hearn and Mark Ronson.

There’s been a full-on boxing renaissance of late, and after training at BXR, it’s easy to see why. For one, this is the kind of exercise that even the biggest “sportsphobe” could get behind. It’s a world away from the hamster-wheel feeling of the treadmill. You’re actually learning a useful self-defence skill, and it really puts your brain – as well as your body – to the test. Despite the cutting-edge kit and exceptional coaches and trainers, possibly the best thing about BXR is that, unlike some of London’s other luxury uber-gyms, it’s all about training to become stronger, fitter, better; not just slimmer or more muscly.

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BXR is all good vibes. No matter what level your sparring skills are at, if you’re ready to work hard – and have fun while doing it – you’ll fit right in. From the trainers to your fellow fitness-seekers, everything at BXR is about support, encouragement and achieving your personal best. Working out at the Anthony Joshua gym has been a serious learning curve; after two months of training we’re completely sold on boxing the BXR way. For now though, we’ll be leaving the heavyweight fighting to AJ.

Head boxing coach Gary Logan’s top tips:

1. How to hold your hands

“You’re always looking to protect yourself as well as hit someone. Keep your right hand by the side of your jaw and your left hand in line with your left shoulder so that you can jab lineally and directly at your opponents head.”

2. Foot positioning

“Balance is one of the most important factors in boxing. In order to throw any shot on balance, your knees must be flexed, and your feet should be at 10 o’clock.”

3. How to defend yourself

“The third most important thing in boxing is how to defend yourself. You need to embrace the fact that someone’s going to punch at you. Should you ever have to use boxing as self-defence, then remember that all drills need to be done while looking at your opponent. If you flinch and look away there’s no damage limitation there, and you’re going to get seriously hurt.”

Strength and conditioning coach James Collins’ top tips:

1. How to properly perform sets

“Always perform the exercises with perfect form – you have to earn the right to progress – and perform all sets to failure. The latest research shows that no matter what adaptations you’re trying to achieve, be it strength or power, you need to go to failure or very near failure. So if you can do 12 reps, you’re probably not lifting a heavy-enough weight. The minute it feels manageable, you need to up your game. Strong muscles burn more fat than lots of high reps and cardio.”

2. When to workout

“Don’t do resistance training on an empty stomach or straight after waking up, cortisol levels are too high, blocking adaptive hormones.”

3. Do short sprints for maximum results

“Perform sprints instead of long, slow continuous cardio. Sprints don’t have to be an hour long. A quick five minutes in your resistance training warm-up or at the end of a session will suffice. Get on the bike or the running machine and try 30 seconds full-throttle followed by 30 seconds rest, then repeat six times.”

bxrlondon.com

 

This article was published on GQ.co.uk 

The Very Best in Natural Skincare Products

We care about what we eat, what we drink and, more recently, there’s growing concern surrounding the air we breathe. And yet, when it comes to what we put on our skin, we seem to be well behind in prioritising products that are made from more natural ingredients.

Cosmetics and beauty products can be filled with chemicals, so if you’re the sort of person that tries to be health conscious, changing up your daily skincare routine is something well worth considering. Gone are the days where such choices signal you out as a raging hippy, with wellness bloggers and experts alike championing alternative, often paraban-free products. Making the switch is simply about being more aware, and about treating your skin as you would your stomach. After all, our skin is porous, and some product can penetrate all the way into our blood streams over time.

I was advised by my beautician that it’s often best to use products that all come from the same line, as different brands can react with one another in different ways. So I’m not suggesting that you use all of these products in tandem, I’m just pointing you in the direction towards the best natural products I’ve found so far. Slather one of these babies on and I promise you won’t ever want to go back to picking up a generic, chemical filled brand when hitting the Boots counter again.

REN Skincare Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser
This fantastic detoxifying cleanser, made from French Kaolin Clay, purifies the skin whilst Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 14.35.05gently exfoliating to unclog blocked pores. It contains a mix of essential oils – chamomile, lavender and sage – which reduce and calm inflammation and also have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. It has a super subtle sent and feels lovely on your skin. I was having a real problem with my skin when I began to use this, and since then it’s totally cleared up. I would highly recommend this product!
£19 for 150ml

REN Micropolish Cleanser (Exfoliator)
Once again, REN have seriously delivered. Unlike the clay cleanser the micropolish is only Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 14.33.49to be used once or twice or week, as it’s a little more intensive. It’s perfect for giving your face a good scrub, but unlike other exfoliators that can leave your skin all dry, this one gently cleanses and leaves your skin super soft. One of the key exfoliating ingredients here is an enzyme extracted from Mexican Papaya called papain, which makes your skin look bright and healthy. The microbeads are made from amber puff as opposed to pesky plastic, so you can use this product safe in the knowledge that it’s not harming you or the environment.
£20 for 150ml

Dr Lipp’s Original Nipple Balm for Lips
I discovered this product years ago in Space NK and have never looked back; it reallScreen Shot 2016-08-11 at 14.50.25y is the best lip balm around. Made from 100% medical grade lanolin – a fatty substance found on sheep’s wool (ok, so I know that sounds a bit gross, but it’s actually used extensively in skin and beauty products and is totally natural) – this product is also really versatile. The name refers to the historical use of the formula by nursing mothers to soothe sensitive nipples, but it can also be used for dry skin, split ends, cracked heels, cuticles, scars- pretty much anywhere you need a bit of extra deep hydration. Literally everyone who tries this loves it.
£12 for 15ml

Neil’s Yard Rehydrating Rose Toner
This award winning toner is one of the best selling Neil’s Yard Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 14.36.22products and it’s easy to see why. It’s super subtle, meaning it’s great for sensitive skin, and it calms and cools a treat. The rose damask gives the product a delicate scent and beautifully primes your skin pre moisturiser. It’s made with 95% natural products and is vegan to boot. Just be careful with the bottle, as it’s quite easy to pour way too much onto your cotton wool!
£16 for 200ml

Origins ‘A Perfect World’ Antioxidant Moisturiser
I first came across this product when on the hunt for a daily moisturiser that contained theScreen Shot 2016-08-11 at 15.10.11 right anti-ageing properties for younger skin (I’m in my twenties and wanted to start using this type of product preventatively). White tea is a powerful antioxidant a fantastic anti-ageing ingredient and reenergises skin whilst rose oil rehydrates. As if that wasn’t enough, the cream is light, goes on like a dream and smells gorge.
£34 for 50ml

Weleda Aknedoron Cleansing Lotion
This product is fantastic for when you’re having a bout of bad skin, Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 15.33.26like when you’ve been to a festival, or when you’ve been lazy with make up removal. I would only use this once a day, as opposed to the recommended twice a day, as it is really quite strong. That being said, this bacteria buster is all-natural and encourages balance using chamomile, essential oils and biodynamic calendula.
£9.95 for 100ml

Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion
This gentle formula is made for sensitive, combination skin and is light and perfume free. Almond oil is rich in Vitamin E Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 18.07.13and is perfect for calming over-reactive skin. Whilst I like to use a thicker moisturiser in the evening, this lotion works really well in the morning as it’s not greasy at all so is great for under your make up.
£14.95 for 30ml

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster
This serum has a seriously good reputation in the beauty biz. It uses a Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 15.04.59high- powered vitamin C complex to smoothen and protect against further damage from environmental aggressors. It’s absorbed instantly and is oil free, so it won’t make your face all greasy as other serums can tend to. The smell is fantastic and it really does refresh your skin beautifully. The product makes your complexion so glow-y that once tested you’ll never want to leave your wash bag without it again, despite the hefty price tag.
£78.50 for 50ml

The Fitness Stars of Instagram

Need a little Monday motivation? Follow these accounts and you’ll want to HIIT the gym in no time.

Fitness is ultimately about well-being, sure. But let’s be honest, it can also, at times be a little bit about appearances. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that many PTs would choose to use the visual medium of Instagram to spread awareness of their brands and become online sensations. Many fitness gurus have literally made their careers on Instagram, commanding huge followings with whom they share their top tips for healthier way of life. What starts as a follow on Instagram can develop into a book, plan or video purchase, so these trainers have got to have strong social game.

Here’s the lowdown on the personal trainers whose Instagram’s will provide you with all the fitspiration you’ll ever need, from handy work out videos to healthy recipe tutorials.

  1. Kayla Itsineskayla

Kayla is an Australian personal trainer whose plan – The Bikini Body Guide- is followed by over ten million women across the world. The app ‘Sweat with Kayla’ provides both exercises and meal plans over an initial twelve-week period, during which you take body shots to track your progress. Much of Kayla’s success has been down to her online presence; she has 5 million insta followers and posts useful tips and videos, very handy for those who don’t want to commit to buying the programme! The ‘BBG’ online community is a network of women – who also refer to themselves as ‘Kayla’s Army’- following their plan who use Instagram to document their progress and support one another. A big part of the programme and of Itsines’s Instagram are these  progress shots, which are shared throughout the community. Also to be expected, lots of pictures of Kayla’s two huskies and the odd motivational quote!

2. Joe Wicksjoe wicks

Joe Wicks a.k.a the Body Coach was a personal trainer before utilizing Instagram in 2014 to make his fifteen second #leanin15 recipe videos. Wick’s business is now based around online nutrition and work out plans, and his recent recipe book ‘Lean in 15’ became the fastest selling debut cookbook in the UK. His fun and cheeky videos often feature midget trees (ie broccoli) and lots of Wick’s naked chest – which only serves to make them even more watchable! As well his recipes and HIIT tutorials, Wicks often shares his client’s monthly progress shots with his 1.1million Insta followers. Seeing how far people have come – especially when his diet includes CHEESE – is pretty good motivation if you’re feeling a little despondent about getting back on that healthy grind.

3. Skinny Bitch Collective/ Russel BatemanSBC

Russel Batemen, founder of the Skinny Bitch Collective, trains the likes of Millie Macintosh and Suki Waterhouse. His classes may be invitation only, but that hasn’t stopped gym bunnies from far and wide – over 96k of them- using his insta as a source of inspiration. Expect to see music video worthy clips of fierce, beautiful, strong women kicking ass. And the occasional sarcy quote to keep the mood light eg. ‘the human body is 60% water so we’re basically just cucumbers with anxiety’. Unlike other fitness gurus, you won’t find any of Bateman’s selfies in his feed, there’s simply enough hot fit girl inspo to make you want to cry your way to the gym instead.

4. Zanna van Dijk zana

Fitness blogger Zanna van Dijk shares her ‘balanced approach to food, fitness and life’ with over 103k Instagram followers. From videos of her work outs (together with detailed instructions) to healthy food inspo pics, Zanna’s body positive approach will make you want to #eatclean, if only so you can look as good as she does! *Warning: Instagram stalking here will induce some serious work out gear envy!*

5. Clean Eating Alice

Alice Liveing is a PT and author of ‘The Body Bible’ with 311k Insta followers to her name. Beyond sharing pictures of her incredibly healthy meals (spoiler:alice expect to see LOTS of eggs), Alice shows off her enviable abs and taught arms in numerous gym selfies. If those pictures aren’t fitspiration enough, you can also try out one of her workouts, which she demonstrates in a video and details in the caption. Alice – who’s part of the LDN muscle team- advocates an attitude to food and fitness that is about overhauling your entire attitude to health. If you want to change a lifetime of bad habits but don’t know where to start, just keeping an eye on her page will help you along the way!

6. Tyrone Brennand

Tyrone Brennand may only have a comparatively modest 26.7k followers, but the videos he posts on Insta are a sure fire way to get you motivated and ready to sweat. Founder of ‘Be tyronethe Fittest’ (based in Chelsea, London), Tyrone is also a Prince’s Trust ambassador. His feed is largely made up of handy work out videos that double up as tutorials, which are great if you need a little guidance when trying to self-motivate. Brennand made head lines recently when he recently ran the marathon on behalf of astronaut Tim Peake, and although relatively new to the industry, is definitely one to watch.

All photos were sourced from Instagram.

The Real Cost of Cosmetics

We live in a time where demonstrating concern for our environment has become downright necessary. We’ve welcomed the move to charge for plastic bags, we advocate the use of technologies like solar panels, almost every Uber you jump into is likely to be a Prius and sustainability has become a buzzword.

And yet, millions of women are innocently using products that contain non-biodegradable plastic that harm the environment on a daily basis. Used primarily as exfoliants, tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are in a multitude of everyday products from face scrub to toothpaste. These microbeads go down the drain, but are too small to be filtered out during the water treatment process, and so end up polluting our oceans and poisoning the fish we eat.

This worrying impact upon marine life is now being flagged by a number of prominent charities, including Greenpeace, and the international campaign ‘Beat The Microbead’ has been gaining momentum since Obama banned them in December 2015.

Although people are starting to take notice, a multitude of products that contain this unnecessary plastic remain widely available, from numerous ‘Visibly Clear’ Neutrogena products to three different Elizabeth Arden products including their ‘Skin Balancing Exfoliating Cleanser’.

The microbead is so ubiquitous that even brands that we associate with top quality, natural ingredients like Sisley use them; their ‘Gentle Facial Buffing Cream’ appears on the ‘Beat The Microbead’ list, as does Clinique’s ‘Sparkle Skin’ body scrub. Other body scrubs that contain this incriminating ingredient include L’Occitane’s ‘En Provence Almond Shower Scrub’ and Dermalogica’s ‘Exfoliating Body Scrub’ (whatever happened to a good old fashioned bit of sand!?). The list goes on and on, even products such as toothpaste, like Arm & Hammer’s ‘Truly Radiant Whitening & Enamel Strengthening Paste’, are known to contain plastic beads.

So what is being done, we might ask? Ethical campaigners and beauty experts alike are calling upon David Cameron to follow in the US and Canada’s footsteps by banning the use of microbeads. Over 226,000 people have already signed the petition run by Greenpeace, which you can find and add your name to by simply searching ‘microbead petition’.

The ‘Beat The Microbead’ campaign has the support of 82 NGOs from 35 countries, and their website states that 239 brands from 59 different manufacturers have already promised to remove microbeads from their products. Companies like Boots, Avon and The Body Shop have also pledged not to use microbeads in their products, however they may still stock items containing them.

Until policy changes, it is crucial not to underestimate the power of the consumer. Ultimately, you can help fight the microbead purely by being aware of them and the products they are likely to be used in.

If in doubt, check the lists provided on The ‘Beat The Microbead’ website. Simply not buying something speaks volumes, and when sales of certain products plummet, big business has to sit up and take notice. At the Oscars, Leo called upon us all to be a part of the change, and awareness about small stuff like this is a great place to start.

DIY Scrubs: Natural Alternatives You’ll Find in Your Kitchen
• Sugar
• Oatmeal
• Sea Salt
• Baking Soda

Featured Image from The New Scientist