Just over the Brooklyn Bridge is Gleason’s–the oldest active U.S. boxing gym, home to 129 World Champions and 2 Olympic Gold medalists. It’s the actual place where Maggie Fitzgerald (played by Hilary Swank) went pro in “Million Dollar Baby.” Equinox, it’s not. But, what it lacks in fru fru amenities, it more than makes up for in sweat, swagger and soul.
Gleason’s Gym sits in the shadow of the iconic bridge, at 77 Front Street in Brooklyn Heights.
Took one one look around and know that they’re not kidding. This is completely true.
And, then, there’s Heather Hardy–whom I came to meet. A 31-year-old pro boxer who made her debut just two years ago. She took up boxing by chance and needed only 3 weeks of training to win her first fight. She’s both hard (intensely muscular and street smart with a thick Brooklyn accent) and soft (blue eyed and blonde with the sweetest voice, especially when talking about things fiercely important: her daughter, winning her next match and the definitive inequity between men and women in nearly every aspect of the sport).
Over the course of an hour and a half in the ring, I learned that I give a decent left-right punch, boxing is my new sure-fire way to break a sweat, fast. And, Heather–with her incredible life story, endless optimism, unbreakable confidence and a noticeable scar over her left eyebrow, is, literally, my new hero–in fitness and in life.
The warm-up: jump rope…3 rounds, 3 minutes each. Felt very Rocky Balboa–and, already sweaty afterward.
Learning the boxer’s stance: one foot in front of the other–not too far, not too close–completely centered, so as to not lose balance after being hit; hands up, closely guarding your face and elbows tight against your body. Always jabbing forward, never pulling back, so as to give your opponent more time to react.
Having my hands wrapped, before putting on the boxing gloves. This is so cool. I kinda felt superhuman.
Make a fist inside the glove. Punch quickly, directly in front of you, keeping the other glove close to your face. Hit your opponent with your first two knuckles–hard.
Really getting into it.
Break for water (and accessory shot).
Images by: Mariana Zenteno Photography