Old-fash­ioned sport at­tract­ing hordes of new fans in gyms through­out Atlanta

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“You’re never go­ing to overdo it — you’re not go­ing to lift too much weight. It uses only your own body weight, your own speed and your own power.”

By DIONNE N. WALKER

In a sprawl­ing Bu­ford High­way gym tucked between dis­count stores, men and women rou­tinely shed their street clothes and trans­form into masters of the squared cir­cle.

Sport­ing leg­gings and gym shorts, fancy ath­letic boots and plain old sneak­ers, they bob, weave, pounce and dance across the floor. Some huff and pant through the reg­i­men, punc­tu­at­ing their ef­fort with fre­quent breaks. Oth­ers seem­ingly feed on the chal­lenge.

No mat­ter their skill level or goals, one thing is cer­tain, said gym owner and re­tired World Cham­pion, Terri “The Boss” Moss: If you come to Buck­head Fight Club, you’ll get a work­out your body won’t soon for­get.

“It’s like strength con­di­tion­ing, car­dio and cir­cuit train­ing all at one time,” she said. “It com­bines ev­ery sin­gle thing you can do out there in one com­pact work­out.”

Just as sure as Jan­uary ush­ers in a new year, it also brings a glut of men and women hop­ing to get a head start on tight­en­ing and ton­ing their way to the per­fect beach bod. And while each year seems to bring a new fit­ness craze — from Zumba to trap yoga — gym own­ers say box­ing is an old-fash­ioned sport that is not only sur­viv­ing but grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

They point to its con­ve­nience as a chal­leng­ing ac­tiv­ity that re­quires rel­a­tively lit­tle equip­ment, and its ef­fec­tive­ness as a full­body work­out that’s not lim­ited by age, weight or gen­der.

“You’re never go­ing to overdo it — you’re not go­ing to lift too much weight,” Moss said. “It uses only your own body weight, your own speed and your own power.” Box­ing your way to a sculpted physique is noth­ing new. In­deed, ev­ery­one from model Gigi Ha­did to Lisa “Sulli” Sul­li­van, the gui­tar tech of Atlanta’s own Indigo Girls, have cred­ited box­ing with rip­ping their abs and even help­ing them re­hab from se­ri­ous in­juries.

In­ter­est in the sport is only go­ing to rise in 2018, pre­dicted Marty Hill, owner of Sweet Sci­ence Fit­ness Box­ing Club in Cham­blee.

“I be­lieve 2018 is go­ing to be a break­out year for box­ing fit­ness,” he said. “It’s al­ways been on the cusp.”

He pointed to the ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of spe­cial­ized fit­ness reg­i­mens that of­fer a more per­son­al­ized touch than the group fit­ness typ­i­cally of­fered at big box gyms.

“Bou­tique fit­ness is re­ally big right now and box­ing fit­ness ties into bou­tique fit­ness,” he said. “Peo­ple re­al­ize now if you want to get real re­sults you have to be more spe­cial­ized.”

There are dozens of places to give it a try in and around the city, with of­fer­ings rang­ing from the largely clinch- and kick-based Muay Thai to un­der­wa­ter aqua box­ing. The range of choices can quickly be­come over­whelm­ing, so ex­perts say know­ing what you’re look­ing to get out of box­ing is key.

Many gyms of­fer a sim­ple fit­ness box­ing class. Where tra­di­tional box­ing in­volves part­nered spar­ring paired with in­ten­sive speed and car­dio train­ing, fit­ness box­ing sub­tracts the hand-to-hand con­tact part.

In­stead, par­tic­i­pants mix heart-pump­ing floor drills with turns punch­ing bags, hit­ting pads and shadow box­ing, as well as per­fect­ing pre­ci­sion foot move­ments. Mo­tions like piv­ot­ing, jab­bing and bounc­ing, mean­while, work your en­tire body, ac­cord­ing to train­ers.

And con­trary to what many would-be par­tic­i­pants think, you don’t have to fight any­body un­less you want to.

The fit­ness rou­tine is a lit­tle more Olivia New­ton-John than “Rocky.” But it’s no less chal­leng­ing. FREE TRIAL LEADS TO SUC­CESS FOR ATLANTA EMT

A re­cent Thurs­day night found Moss and her team of train­ers putting about 50 adults and kids through their paces in her high-en­ergy, un­der­ground gym.

On rub­ber mats, a dozen men and women panted and gri­maced their way through squats. Later, they headed to the bags for a rapid-fire punch­ing ses­sion fol­lowed by still more floor drills.

Across the gym, a more ad­vanced group mir­rored Moss on a cir­cuit that in­cluded zig-zag­ging through a maze of hang­ing punch­ing bags. Next, they fol­lowed her to the ring, each tak­ing turns try­ing to hit the sprightly 51-year-old’s padded palms.

A south­ern girl raised on fat-rich com­fort food sta­ples, EMT Lindsey Struck car­ried 255 pounds on her 5-foot-2-inch frame when Moss, who was train­ing her wife, of­fered her a free trial at the gym.

“I was like OK she gave me a mem­ber­ship, I guess I’d bet­ter go,” said Struck, who de­spite play­ing softball and other sports, had main­tained a larger frame.

She went on to drop 70 pounds and be­come a box­ing con­vert.

“Your stamina and your endurance just to­tally in­crease to some­thing you would never be­lieve,” she said.

Moss said be­gin­ners should plan to train about three times a week. With reg­i­mens burn­ing up to 200 calo­ries a minute, Moss said it’s re­al­is­tic to start look­ing for early re­sults within two weeks.

Be very clear on your fit­ness goals and choose a gym with a record of ac­com­mo­dat­ing those spe­cific goals, Hill said.

“Are you look­ing to be­come a com­pet­i­tive boxer, are you look­ing to use box­ing fit­ness for weight loss, con­di­tion­ing and stress relief?” he said. “It’s re­ally num­ber one know­ing ex­actly what you’re look­ing for and find­ing ex­actly the right en­vi­ron­ment that’s go­ing to get you to your goals.”

As long as you are cleared for phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, you should be able to par­tic­i­pate, though some doc­tors ad­vise that you stick to shadow box­ing only if you have arthri­tis.

Be ready to put in lots of sweat equity and en­joy the fruits of know­ing you are tak­ing care of your­self.

“With­out your health, there’s not re­ally a whole lot you can do for your­self,” Struck said. “It’s im­por­tant be­cause you’re the only you that you have.”

Jan­uary 5, 2018

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