By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
One-two, jab-right cross. Anyone who’s taken up boxing might have flashbacks of math class with all the numbers and combinations. What the cardio-intensive activity equals out to is an exercise with physical, emotional and social benefits.
“I kind of fell in love with boxing when I first started here,” said Samantha Twining, a front desk representative at the UFC Gym in Springfield.
Twining is paralyzed from a car accident she was in nine years ago. Then when her father passed away about four years ago, she joined UFC Gym and used boxing to relieve stress. She said it wasn’t just the physical activity that helped her but the community atmosphere of the fitness center. The members encourage and support one another, Twining said.
“All mixed martial arts gyms are kind of like a family,” she said.
Being in a wheelchair doesn’t stop Twining from reaping the physical benefits of boxing. She said boxing is a conditioning activity that requires a lot of endurance.
“It keeps your hands fast and your arms strong,” she said.
Deanne Vanjonack, co-owner of Ignite Fitness Studio in West Vincent, said she started boxing about two years ago and liked that it was a powerful way to let out aggression.
“There’s a technique to do it. It’s like dancing. You’re on all toes at all times,” she said.
Vanjonack teaches a boxing boot camp class at Ignite Fitness which combines shadow boxing, partner boxing and a variety of other exercises. In between punches and hooks; participants do sit-ups, squats, run in place and more. Learning the different hand combinations and adding the footwork helps people learn how to focus better, Vanjonack said.
“You got to think one, two; okay that’s my jab,” she said.
Vanjonack said having partners in the boxing boot camp creates accountability.
“If your partner just worked and gave their 100 percent, you’re going to give your 100 percent,” she said.
She said men and women feel stronger after they box which helps to build self-confidence. Ignite Fitness member Tina Gibson said boxing helps to empower people. She said the trainers at the studio really show people that they care about them and want them to succeed in their fitness goals.
“It’s just a really great atmosphere,” she said.
Vanjonack said people, herself included, feel happier after boxing because it releases endorphins in your brain. She said a 5 a.m. boxing workout energizes her for the rest of the day then helps her sleep better at night. She added that the activity is also a way to let frustration out.
“It’s a natural healthy outlet,” Vanjonack said adding that it’s better to get out the anger through boxing than taking it out on a person.
Ashley Shivak, fitness instructor and co-owner of Ignite Fitness, said the studio offers several types of classes that incorporate boxing and that the activity is for all ages. The studio has a “Fit for Kids” program where children do both TRX exercises and boxing.
“For some of these kids, there’s a lot of pressure in school now to be the best, to get the best grades and to have the most friends,” Shivak said.
She said boxing is an encouraging activity for youth that’s also fun and gives them confidence.
Alden Washington, owner of Washington Boxing Academy in King of Prussia, works with children eight years old and up. Washington, now 70, learned how to box from his father at nine years old. He said the activity was a confidence booster because he learned how to defend himself. He said children at the academy are learning coordination and the importance of consistency through boxing.
Washington said the academy is also open to adults who reap physical and emotional benefits from boxing. He said adults can channel agitations from the outside world into the self-defense activity while getting in shape at the same time.
“They are very delighted that they can actually throw a punch, and another punch, and another punch and work that bag for three minutes,” Washington said.
Vanjonack said the boxing boot camp at Ignite Fitness is something you may hate at first because it’s so intense but that people soon start to love it because of all the benefits.
“Give it two weeks and you won’t want to leave,” she said.