Monday, July 5, 2010

Fitness Boxing Gyms

HERE’S a slightly tweaked version of a 2007 article I wrote for One Philippines magazine, written while I was covering an event in Boracay. I actually did the legwork for this multi-source piece before I left but for some reason couldn’t get it together. Found some idle time and a cheap internet café in Bora and to paraphrase Randy Quaid in The Paper, it wrote just like butter.

Can’t remember how the article was edited but this was an improved version of my original draft. Modesty aside, I’d like to think I hit a knockout punch with this particular piece. Well, you decide. Read on.

Photos courtesy of Ringside boxing gym.

Or why boxing gyms in this country are not just for Manny Pacquiao wannabes

ALTERNATIVE is a word that is often tossed around by its evangelists. Multimedia personality and sexy fitness buff Chinggay Andrada swears it’s “the safest way to release and relieve stress.” And at least one sought-after venue has employed the tagline, “Get fit without getting hit.”

Who would have thought that boxing, a sport that is widely regarded by naysayers as violent, barbaric and in the words of an American Medical Association official, “an obscenity that should not be sanctioned by any civilized society” has reinvented itself in such a way that many are now using it in the same sentence as the words, “health and safety?”

The reason, of course, has more to do with getting fit than getting hit as boxing gym Tiger City succinctly puts it. The idea, according to rival Red Corner Fitness and Boxing Club, is “to build boxing up not only as a serious sport to get into but also as a good way to get into shape.” Marketed as a form of workout and leisure sport, it’s not surprising that there’s even a new term for it: Fitness Boxing.

“I believe the sudden emergence of boxing gyms or boxing workout nowadays is that people are looking for an alternative workout that is not only effective but also exciting, fun, and challenging to do,” says Tom Noda, an IT journalist and a regular at Tiger City. “A boxing workout gives you that because the drills deviate from the ordinary general fitness programs. For instance people tend to enjoy boxing drills like punch mitts, wherein a trainer holds two punch pads as target and makes you to do a variety of combination punches and other boxing moves.”

Ianne Borillo, one of the owners of another boxing gym called Ringside, located in most Gold’s Gym branches, agrees. “I think people just got bored with merely ‘gymming’,” she notes. “There was this need for alternative means of drastic weight loss and cheap workout. Then there was the media and then Manny Pacquiao and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Yes, the popularity of Pacquiao, our “pambansang kamao” certainly does not hurt. But as each of these guys would attest, most of those who sign up for these boxing gyms are not there because they aspire to be the next Pacman. A good number are actually in it for the health benefits, of which there are numerous, Ianne enthuses.

“Boxing is one of the most effective workouts for weight loss, endurance and speed development,” she says. “It improves your mood by increasing your brain and body’s blood supply and oxygen so you can think more clearly and have better dispositions. It helps counteract depression and premenstrual tension in women by decreasing salt retention caused by high hormone levels. It improves deep sleep, increases your feeling of accomplishment and confidence and as a whole is a great source of wholesome recreation and avenue for inter-personal development.”

A former instructor herself at Red Corner, Chinggay says boxing actually saved her life. “You know, ever since I took to the sport, it has greatly improved my reflexes and lessened my injuries,” she admitted to this writer in an earlier interview.

Along with Elorde Boxing Gym, it was really Red Corner that kick-started the fitness boxing phenomenon in the country. Other boxing gyms that have mushroomed since then include those with names like Wild Card, Total Knockout, Chinggay’s own Punch Club and of course, Ringside and Tiger City.

Just how popular are these boxing clubs in the country? Well, Ianne says the central gym of Ringside at Gold’s Gym Alabang alone has already 2,500 members to date, of which around 45 percent are very active. “We average 60 students per day and 30 new members sign up every month,” she says.

Since it opened in 2004, Tiger City, on the other hand, now has 800 members. With Pacquiao’s recent victory over Barrera, Tom expects membership not just in Tiger City but in just about every boxing gym, to shoot through the roof.

As relatively new gyms, both Ringside and Tiger City offer more diversified programs to give them an edge over the existing and increasing competition.

“We at Ringside offer beginner, intermediate and advanced programs based on the scientific advancement of fitness,” Ianne muses. “They essentially consist of boxing, Muay Thai kicking, plyometrics and circuit training under a group atmosphere. We do not expect our clients to know these scientific methods right away so when they step into the gym and go through with their workout, we are there guiding and motivating them every step of the way.”

“The usual programs at Tiger City are the boxing training itself, which includes shadow boxing with or without dumbbells, punch mitts, heavy bag, floor to ceiling ball, speed ball, skipping rope, matt exercises, stretching exercises, and for those who are up to it, sparring sessions. Also running and weights too,” Tom offers.

The proper stance, hand and foot position and getting your lower body involved are already taught in these programs. To avoid injuries, it is important to remember not to let your guard down whether you’re sparring or simply taking jabs at the punching bag, as Chinggay keeps pointing out.

So who can get into the sport and what would they need? Tom says “young or old, male and female can train.” “For those with health problems, they should show proof that their doctors are allowing them to do the workouts,” he adds. “But usually, the level or intensity of workout varies from age and sex, in the case of children, women and senior citizens.”

Both Tom and Ianne are one in saying that interested parties need to invest in at least their own boxing gloves and handwraps that are usually free for trial sessions only. Those who wish to engage in sparring should also invest in their own mouth guard or mouthpiece as headgears are already available in the gyms.

For her part, Chinggay stresses that those who want to get into the sport should be in it for the long haul and not just jump into the bandwagon as results are not going to be achieved overnight. “You have to look at this as a commitment,” she emphasizes. “For my part, I’m more interested in climbing a mountain, Mt. Everest to be more specific, than fitting in a size 2 dress.”

Ringside is located in most Gold’s Gym branches including the ones in Glorietta and Alabang Town Center. Tiger City is located at 145 San Francisco St. and at 248 Sto. Rosario St., Plainview, Mandaluyong. Elorde Boxing Gym and Red Corner Fitness and Boxing Club have several gyms in Metro Manila.

No comments: