Box yourself into fitness
If your New Year’s resolution to get in shape has been swept away like so much Times Square confetti, the middle of January can be a cruel slog. But don’t get down on yourself. Resolve to exceed that goal of a healthier you, by enlisting some skilled help in your corner — and as agents of change go, learning the finer points of the sweet science is a no-brainer.
Offering a full-body workout as intense as it is exhilarating, boxing has helped to win many a battle of the bulge, accrued from too many holiday season libations, cookies, and buffet plates.
“My boxing experience gave me the courage to confront aspects of my past that were unnerving and traumatic,” said psychotherapist Binnie Klein, author of the 2010 memoir, “Blows To The Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind.” Klein — whose “Ten Days in Newark” (tendaysinnewark.com) is an audio memoir and about first love and radical politics of the ’60s — is more likely to be found these days doing yoga, or on the exercise bike. But back in the heyday of her training, she recalled, “I felt stronger and had more endurance. I felt, perhaps foolishly, that if I had to defend myself in some threatening situation, that I would at least try. Boxing is such a terrific ‘all-over’ workout. You’re using all of your body and muscles.”
Asked about how to really buckle down, for those who might not necessarily be on a quest for a championship belt, Klein said, “If you really want to learn to box, find a coach. Find someone who has been in the ring … Classes are fine, I guess, but think working one-on-one with someone who knows what they’re doing, is the ideal situation.”
To that end, New York City has an embarrassment of riches, when it comes to boxing gyms where seasoned pros train motivated newcomers to the Sport of Kings.
Marc Sprung, co-owner of Church Street Boxing, hails their 25 Park Pl. and 52 Walker St. locations as “the safest, warmest, most welcoming gyms that you cold ever belong to.” Given Church Street’s robust population of professional and amateur competitors, Sprung noted, “There’s a perception, ‘Oh, people are going sneer at me. These are skilled, talented fighters who are gong to make fun of me.’ ” Not at all, he assured. “Everyone who walks in the door is treated with respect. We’re unbelievably proud of the community we’ve developed, and that’s represented by our members. So many people know each other’s names, and become friends.”
Church Street Boxing has also, he said, “become very well-known for our Muay Thai program, we’ve restarted our kids’ boxing program, and we offer jiu-jitsu … These disciplines, in addition to the value they have for self-defense, are amazing ways of staying fit and being engaged in the activity, because every class you take is different than the one before.”
Later this year, Church Street Boxing is coming to Chelsea, having, Sprung said, “just signed a lease on West 29th Street, between Sixth and Seventh.” Their current facilities are basement and second floor spaces, and the Chelsea addition is at ground-level. Asked if there will be future additions to the burgeoning chain, Sprung said, “We’re going to keep going in both directions, until we hit the penthouse and the center of the earth.” Visit csboxinggym.com for more info.
As for new kids on the block, EverybodyFights has the right stuff. Located just steps (or a long jab) from Grand Central Terminal, the roomy, 295 Madison Ave. basement space offers circuit classes that serve as a warm-up for boxing, or a stand-alone, calorie-burning destination (the better-than-boot-camp sessions presided over by General Geoff are particularly intense). Several steps beyond the traditional conveyor belt experience, Woodway-brand treadmills, used for their “Road” classes, have a running surface that reduces friction and wear. Rowing equipment, speed bags, and two boxing rings also populate the main space.
A veritable forest full of punching possibilities, the heavy bag room has 45 of them hanging in rows. Darkened lights and music are par for the course, for some classes — and the “BagsXBody” class has the brilliant premise of a workout based on famous fights, in which your activity mimics the strategic combinations, and contrasting styles, of each competitor (video of the particular bout your class is based on plays before, and during, instruction).
Two-time Golden Gloves winner and EverybodyFights trainer Dennys Lozada said the “BagsXBody” class really “keeps the heart rate up. You’ll learn how to properly throw punches, and learn about great fights of the past. The energy in the room is electric.”
Lozada also noted that EverybodyFights attracts “people of all ages and all levels. They all come here because they want to learn — to box, or take a rope class, or do weights. We have endurance and a road classes. You’re training as a fighter would.”
One more feature sets EverybodyFights apart. No doubt, “We’re a boxing gym,” Lozado said. “You walk into our facility, you see two boxing rings, and you feel that atmosphere of a gritty gym. Then you walk into our bathrooms, and we give you the New York City boutique atmosphere.” Visit everybodyfights.com for more info.
Klein, the psychotherapist whose book is subtitled “How Boxing Changed My Mind,” noted its benefits extend beyond the physical body.
“I like to encourage people who have trouble with self-assertion and confidence, to have a few boxing lessons if they can,” Klein said. “Just see what it’s like to make a fist … Boxing puts you into immediate contact with where you are in space and time — and where everyone else is!”