Originally created 10/03/00

Getting in the ring



Linda De La Paz likes to try new workouts and activities to keep from getting bored with her exercise regimen.

Six years ago, the certified personal trainer began boxing. It not only piqued her interest, the sport became a passion.

"Boxing is something that if you like it, you'll just get more and more involved," she said.

Ms. De La Paz, 46, spends a few hours each week at the Augusta Boxing Club with gloves on. The Savannah River Site engineer also volunteers as a certified judge for USA boxing and wants to work up to judging at the Olympic Games.

Ms. De La Paz is part of a trend sweeping fitness clubs and gyms across the nation. Because of its intensity, boxing gives a complete body workout, increasing stamina, toning muscles from calves to forearms and developing coordination.

Ms. De La Paz said her stamina dramatically increased after she began boxing. Other members of the adult recreational boxing class at the club are equally enthusiastic.

"I've power lifted and done aerobic exercising, but it's nothing like this," said Ray Ireland, a 42-year-old pipe fitter. "It just doesn't get any better than this."

Mr. Ireland began working out at the gym a month and half ago. He said he has noticed an increase in his endurance, hand-eye coordination and agility.

The Augusta Boxing Club opened its doors to adults about seven years ago, in response to many phone calls. Generally, an adult beginner's first statement is, "I've always wanted to do this," said Tom Moraetes, owner and founder of the club. "They do every aspect of boxing except the contact."

The first step is to learn the proper stance and position of the hands. This is where instructor Elbert Maddox comes in.

"First, you have to get the technique right," he said. "Once you get that, the power and speed will come. It takes time."

Mr. Maddox lets students set their own pace. There are jump ropes, climbing machines, treadmills, three kinds of punching bags and three rings to work in. Classmates rotate through the gym, spending time at each station.

Rick Kulis, founder of the International Female Boxers Association, said the fitness benefits are fueling the increased interest in boxing.

"It works every single muscle group. Combine that with a small amount of weight training, and the pounds just melt off," he said. "It burns a tremendous number of calories."

So much so, that it causes some problems for the association.

"They just lose so much weight that we can't keep them in their weight category," Mr. Kulis said. "You can't go wrong with boxing."

Where to go

The Adult Recreation Boxing class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Augusta Boxing Club, 1929 Walton Way. There is a one-time equipment fee of $100 and monthly fees of $25. For more information, call 733-7533.

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.