Fighting trim

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The rigourous training of a boxer can get you in tip-top shape

Im getting more results here than I did at the gym, says Steven Ceolin, 43, who is experiencing the benefits of hitting a punching bag. Photo by CanWest News Service

Steven Ceolin has put some much needed punch in his workouts and its paying off.

Four months after joining the Grant Brothers Boxing gym in Montreal, hes lost 17 pounds.

Why is this father and businessman donning a pair of boxing gloves for the first time at age 43? He says he switched to boxing after he got bored with working out at his fitness club.

I signed up for a whole year, went for three months and stopped, admitted Ceolin.

And while his exercise routine at the fitness club was showing results, bottom line was he didnt like it, even after hiring a trainer to help with motivation.

So, on the advice of his neighbour, Ceolin traded the dumbbells for boxing gloves.

He told me, Steve, go see (the Grant brothers). Go three times a week. Youll see: it doesnt matter what you eat, youre going to lose weight.

Turns out his neighbour was right.

Im getting more results here than I did at the gym, said Ceolin.

Ceolin is in good hands. The gym is operated by two of Montreals most knowledgeable boxers. Otis Grant is a champion middle-weight boxer who retired this past December. His brother, Howard, a former lightweight champ, trains a number of pros as well as regular guys like Ceolin.

The gym isnt fancy. Theres no juice bar or towel service, just a regulation ring, numerous heavy bags and speed bags hanging from the ceiling and a large mat where boxers practice their footwork and work on building abs strong enough to take a punch. The only cardio machine is a single Monarch exercise bike.

On a Friday morning at 10:30, the place is hopping. Howard Grant is there. So, too, are some of his pros. The rest of the gym is filled with an eclectic mix of boxers of varying ages and abilities, including a preteen boy and a young woman.

I got all kinds, said Grant of his clientele.

I have a guy here who lost 30 pounds in the last two months and I have other people who were working out at other clubs and now they are here and are addicted to the place.

Begin with the basics

So, what do guys like Ceolin do when they walk into the gym for the first time?

First, Grant teaches the basics like the boxers stance and how to throw a punch and a jab. Then its time to get to work.

On Ceolins first day, he hopped on the exercise bike, climbed the stairs at the front of the gym, did a few situps and hit the bags.

It wasnt a heavy workout, he said.

Months later, his routine is a little more robust. He spends about 10 or 15 minutes on the bike, another 10 minutes doing the stairs, a half-hour hitting the heavy bag (three minutes of punching followed by one minute of rest), a few minutes on the small balloon bag and another few minutes doing situps. The whole thing takes about 90 minutes and he does it three times a week.

So far, Ceolin is thrilled with the results. He may not float like a butterfly or sting like a bee, but hes lighter, his blood pressure is on the decline and he throws a better punch though he says his goal isnt to become a boxer, its to get in shape and improve his health.

From paunch to punch

Louis Papakonstantinou, on the other hand, would love to get in the ring. The 38-year-old came to the gym to work off his paunch. He, too, was a member of a fitness gym before making the switch to the boxing club.

I figured I might as well get a workout and learn how to throw a punch just in case, said Papakonstantinou.

According to Howard Grant, stepping into the ring is a possibility for just about anyone, but only when a person is comfortable with all aspects of the sport.

Its different from hitting the bag because now you have someone hitting back at you, he said.

In case you think that boxing is all about machismo, women have also been known to throw a punch or two at the gym. In fact, Grant says, women are very methodical in their approach to the sport, which translates into better skill development.

Stephany Alvarez tried boxing on the advice of a friend. The 18-year-old says she feels at home in the gym, despite the large male contingent. And according to Grant, she has talent.

So far, Alvarez has avoided the ring, mostly at the request of her parents, who dont want her to ruin her face. But that doesnt mean she isnt serious about the sport. A typical workout starts with running the stairs for 15 minutes followed by 15 to 20 minutes skipping rope.

Then I put on my wraps and I do a little shadow boxing before hitting the (heavy) bag for three or four rounds, said Alvarez.

I follow with a group aerobics workout for 30 minutes, hit the bags for sprints with everyone else, then everyone skips, before moving to the speed bags and then the balloon bag. Its lots of fun.

If thats your idea of fun, chances are theres a boxing gym close to home.

You dont have to be an Ali wannabe to pull on a pair of gloves. Nor do you need an abundance of testosterone. What you do need is an interest in losing a few pounds while increasing strength, stamina, speed and co-ordination.

Come to think of it, that does sound like fun.

Montreal Gazette

Organizations: Grant Brothers Boxing, Montreal Gazette

Geographic location: Montreal

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