I love the gym.  When I was about eight or nine years old, my dad set up a mini boxing gym for himself (and us) in our basement.  There was, and probably still is, a free-weight set, a speed bag, a heavy bag, multiple jump ropes, and a few tennis balls for hop-dribbling drills (or whatever they call it).  To this day, I am convinced that there are still some people walking around Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, that would be dead by a Campolo’s hand had it not been for this place my dad set up for my brothers and me to punch things.  And punch them I did – I often broke the heavy bag with kicks too, I was an angry teenager and I loved contact sports so it was a natural fit.

Between my gym in my concrete basement, my weight room at high school tucked in the boiler room, and all the rocky movies I’ve memorized, I learned a cultural truth to fight training:  The more raw and underground the facility and the training methods, the stronger the warrior.  By contrast, you can get in great shape at fancy gyms like David Barton Gym (complete with saunas, lime-infused water and showers with scented body scrub), but if you want to become a strong and TOUGH person, ya gotta go low-tech.  Ask one of your crossfit cult members buddies.

So when my wife came to me with a Groupon for a month’s worth of boxing classes for Troy at South Beach Boxing, it was a pretty easy sell.  I was a bit apprehensive about teaching my 9-year old to really box and throw deadly punches, but someday, someway, somebody is going to try to beat the shit out of him, so I would like to have him prepared if I can.  It’s a challenge to remind him that the more he trains, the less he can use his training in real life, but he is starting to understand that these weapons he is using are dangerous, and he needs to use them for defense only.

The first thing I remember was the commercial on the TV playing over the front door to the sidewalk on Washington Avenue, set to the music of Pirates of the Caribbean.  Seemed a bit dramatic, but I do like the song.

There are motivational writings everywhere.  On the steps approaching the gym.  On the overhead I-beams.  Even Yoda is paraphrased in his legendary, “Do, or do not.  There is no try” advice to a young Skywalker.

stairs-motto

also doubles as a 3D poi obstacle course :).

also doubles as a 3D poi obstacle course :).

Light on the nautilus, heavy on the actual iron plates – my kind of place.

Light on the nautilus, heavy on the actual iron plates – my kind of place.

There are pictures of Jolie everywhere.  She’s the owner and is in almost all of the dozens of pictures that line the staircase posing with boxing legends and influential Miamians.  She’s also a winner of “Top 40 under 40,” an award given to a mover and shaker under 40 by the South Florida Business  Journal, it’s on the wall next to pictures of her with Mohammed Ali.  You’ll know her by equal parts beauty and grit – below the sexy blonde surface is a woman of pure iron.

Jolie Glassman

Don’t let the smile fool you – she will kick. your. ass.

Other celebrity photos include Hector Macho Camacho, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard and a ton more.

The overall size of the gym is not that huge by other gym’s standards, but it’s all there…

  • There’s a basketball net.
  • There are DOZENS of heavy bags in various sizes and shapes.  Most are much taller and much stronger than the one I grew up with, no kick of mine is going to derail these beasts.
  • A full weight gym, with all the machines and stations together so you don’t have to walk from place to place between muscle group changes.
  • A full-size (I think, it looks full-size) boxing ring.
  • A class schedule that includes boxing, thai kickboxing, Jiu Jitsu, cross-training, and more.
  • Boxes for plyometrics and a kettelbell station.

So we walk in, and as usual, I bring my poi when I have an hour to kill.  Troy hooked up with his boxing teacher, Romeo, and they went to the other end of the gym to train.  There were about 3 kids in the first class.  When we met up at the water cooler on mutual training breaks, Troy was beet red, sweating like a fountain, and breathing so hard he could barely speak.  I smiled and said with self-amusement, “How do you feel?”

His eyes grew wide with excitement – he stopped panting, took one look at me and said only one word:

“STRONG.”

He was hooked… and I was hooked on his behalf.  Romeo is always impressed with Troy’s training prowess and I always enjoy seeing my son come back exhausted and confident.

Troy is now a monthly member and I get to train poi in their mirrors twice a week.  Membership runs about $120 a month, which includes all access and all classes with instructors.  Equipment rental/purchase is on-site for convenience, we got Troy’s handwraps, gloves, and mouthpiece there.

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