Boxing at The Sporting Club at the Bellevue
During The Sporting Club at the Bellevue’s yearly “Fight Night” in Philadelphia, Pa., members battle it out in the club’s boxing ring for charity, utilizing boxing moves they learned from Clif Johnson, a professional boxing trainer and the club’s assistant general manager.
Four years ago, during The Sporting Club’s first “Fight Night,” the event drew 140 attendees and raised close to $1,000. This year, the event was observed by close to 500 attendees, and raised $13,000.
The increased popularity of the event is no coincidence, said Johnson, who in addition to being the assistant general manager of The Sporting Club, owns his own boxing gym, Lef Jab Boxing Club, in West Grove, Pa. Johnson explained that boxing has become more mainstream in recent years, transitioning out of the bad rap it gained in previous decades from some critics labeling it a “blood sport.”
Boxing’s increased acceptance as a mainstream workout is evident in the growth of boxing and kickboxing franchises such as TITLE Boxing Clubs, 9Round and CKO Kickboxing. LA Boxing had grown to 81 clubs before being acquired by UFC® Gym™.
At The Sporting Club, Johnson’s group fitness classes called “The Boxer’s Workout,” and “Just Clif,” are some of the club’s most popular classes, held 38-40 times per month to high attendance. According to Johnson, this is because boxing, at its roots, is a fantastic workout. “People love boxing,” said Johnson. “It’s one of the best conditioning workouts you could possibly ever do.”
The first half of Johnson’s Group X classes focus on conditioning. Members do pushups, jumping jacks, shadow boxes, sprints and mountain climbers. The second half of the classes focuses on bag work, in which Johnson teaches members the basic fundamentals of proper punching. “Bag work is key,” said Johnson.
The Sporting Club’s boxing program has continually grown and added another dimension to the gym. “We’ve brought boxing mainstream,” said Johnson.
Referred to as “the poor man’s sport,” Johnson said it’s simple for clubs to execute a great boxing program. All clubs need is a few punching bags and a qualified trainer — trainers and instructors should be certified by USA Boxing or Mid Atlantic Boxing. However, Johnson cautioned against using trainers who are current or former fighters. “If you get a fighter, sometimes I find it difficult to have them do the training,” he said. “They have to be articulate enough to be able to properly explain the fundamentals of the sport.”
In terms of results, Johnson believes there are not many other programs more efficient than a good boxing class. “It will get you in the best shape you could possibly be in,” he said. “And it never gets easier — you just get better.”
By Rachel Zabonick