Pack a Punch

Photographs by Marwan Shousher
Above: Instructor Mackenzie Pretty

Dim the lights, let go of the outside world—commuting, tax hikes, tailgaters—and burn through an hour of punching the bag, pulling like a fiend on the rowing machine and doing body-weight exercises. Since 2011, JOYRIDE has kept Fairfield County go-getters on the fast track with high-energy spin and studio fitness classes. But when JoyRide reaches a goal, it sets a higher one, so it launched JoyX, a new state-of-the-art, 4,000-square-foot cross-training space for group classes that combine boxing, rowing and full-body exercises. Choose a combo class or a single-focus, interval-based JoyRow and JoyBox class. Any way you punch, kick or pull it, your workout is high intensity—and, of course, beginners are welcome at JoyRide Cycling + Fitness.

Competitive Westporters like to come in first place and always improve, so there should be congratulatory high fives going round about a new way to up their game. 1200 Post Rd. E.;

“When you add boxing and rowing to your cycle and circuit, barre, Pilates options, you are unstoppable.”

There are few finer figures than that of the boxer. From the corner of the ring where I’m perched, I see every inhalation and exhalation almost in slow motion. A jab with the right to the opponent’s head, followed by a left hook, a pivot on the foot and a flurry of uppercuts to the kidneys. All the while, torsos expand and contract, exposing ribs and fibers of muscle I didn’t know existed. The only thing to wake me from this trance is the bell signaling the end of three minutes. My bloodied boxer finds his corner, collapses onto a stool and expectorates into a filthy bucket. It is only then that I realize my perfectly painted face is sprayed with sweat.

That’s my day at the office as a host and reporter for boxing on ESPN. Trying a new boxing class at JoyX felt like the right thing to do. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going ten rounds with anyone, right?

I’m familiar with the moves, the jab, the hook, the uppercut. I understand the concept of keeping my hands up at all times to protect my face and body. I can pivot my feet instinctively because maybe that’s just the way my body moves. I have seen a pugilistic choreography countless times. I have cringed when I hear leather meet skin in such a perfect place that the skin neatly splits open. I have watched grown men fall face first onto the canvas. And I have seen those same men stand up, raise their gloves and invite their opponent back to finish the fight.

In this class, I have no opponent except for the bag. I am, in fact, fighting myself, which is the hardest fight, however trite that sounds. My legs and arms want to move, but if I’m not careful, my brain will shut it all down in a hot second. Fatigue will turn a jab into a poke, a hook into a bear hug with the bag and an uppercut into nothing more than a stare-down with the Xs that are perfectly placed on the floor in front of each bag.

But fatigue is no match for that tiny bit of energy I have left. As if on cue, the instructor meets me at the bag and counts me down, “One-two, one-two, one-two—you got this!”

I’m certain this workout means something different to each person in that room. I got a small taste of what my boxers subject themselves to on a daily basis. Those fifty minutes were intense, brutal and satisfying. On my way out, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My body is covered in sweat. This time, it’s my own.

Marysol Castro

Bring sneakers, water and lots of positive energy

1  MOVE IT: Four rounds boxing and rowing with body-weight exercises in between.

2  PUMPED: Music up, lights down, in a group (up to 24 spots) setting for 50 minutes.

3  X MARKS THE SPOT: Nos. 1–12 start on boxing bags; 13–24, on rowing machines.

4  PREP WORK: Borrow boxing gloves or use your own. Wraps available at front desk.

5  FORM & TECHNIQUE: Instructors help, but maybe focus with JoyRow or JoyBox.

6  XX: A new boxing boot camp–style, high-intensity, interval-based class.



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