CRANBERRY TWP — Treat your sweetie to a session of the sweet science this Valentine's Day.
The Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA, 2001 Ehrman Road, is offering a Happy Valentine's Week Couples Fitness Boxing class beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Rather than trading sweet nothings with your significant other, you can trade hooks and jabs. The YMCA can supply gloves and wraps, and there will be door prizes and healthy snacks provided.
And maybe the introduction to fitness boxing will lead you to take one of the three classes offered by the YMCA.
That's what happened to boxing instructor Lisa Guerrini who tried fitness boxing nine years ago and has been boxing ever since.
The Cranberry Township YMCA has three fitness boxing classes: a beginner's class at 9:30 a.m. and a family class at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and an advanced class at 9:30 a.m. Thursdays.
Guerrini said besides the aerobic benefits of snapping off counter punches and using the proper footwork, fitness boxing also sharpens the practitioners' mental discipline.
“The mind is fully engaged and the body is fully engaged,” said Guerrini.
And part of that mindfulness is being aware that you're working with a partner.
“What I love about this workout is you have to bring your A game every time,” said Guerrini. “If you don't, your partner isn't getting the benefit.”
The shirt Guerrini was wearing during a recent advanced fitness boxing class said it best: “Boxing it's just like dancing except we punch each other.”
Or rather, the punches are landing on your partner's gloves. There are no blows landing on anybody's body.
After warm up on a recent Thursday, class members line up in a row facing each other. The instructor Dani Roylo puts the pugilists through their paces.
With loud music blaring, Roylo barks out a series of numbers corresponding to punches and punch combinations.
“4-5; 2,3,4; 1,2, 1,2; 4,5, 4,5,” she calls out as the participants snap out a series of uppercuts, jabs and crosses, lowering their shoulders and bobbing and weaving.
The sound of punches popping on gloves becomes as loud as the music. Occasionally, Roylo throws in a series of squats and lunges between the fisticuffs. A bell rings to signal a move to the next set of exercises. “It's a full-body cardio and strength workout,” said Guerrini. Many of the class members are flushed and sweating at the halfway mark of the hourlong class. Guerrini said fitness boxing works on total body strength with emphasis on increasing coordination and core strength. “The whole point is engaging the core. It's stability, footwork, moving around, the constant turning of the hips and the shoulders,” said Guerrini. “The combination punches really make you think about your body and movement.”
A mother-daughter duo, Doris Burd, 67, and Nicole Reep, 43, have been trading blows in class for more than two years. Burd said she had never found a workout regime she liked before trying fitness boxing. “Exercise, I hated it and can't stand it. It was a waste of time,” said Burd. “I saw a fitness boxing class and I said, 'Let's give it a whirl.' ” Burd became a convert. Her daughter said, “It was the only thing that tripped her trigger. She said, 'I'll keep coming back for this.' ”
Burd said, “It's a great mind and body workout.” Luke Deemer has been fitness boxing since 2009. He said he comes for not only the exercise but also his fellow boxers. “I think it's a lot of fun and I like the people,” he said. “It's what gets me motivated to come down here.” Dan Davis, another longtime member of the advanced class, said he likes the fact that Roylo is always changing things up. Davis said, “There's a lot of punching, but sometimes she'll bring in the bull ropes or she will have us running laps upstairs and stop and box in the corners.” The exercising with a partner is what makes Tuesday's couples boxing class more romantic than it might seem. Guerrini said, “There is symbiosis. You connect with your partner. It's a workout with someone you love.” “You don't have to be a member. You can get a pass for the day,” said Guerrini. “You don't have to be a traditional couple. Or it can be kids and their parents.” “You only need to register. If you need equipment, we can supply the boxing gloves,” she said. A nontraditional Valentine's outing involving trust and physical contact might turn out to be a winning combination.