Soon after moving to Lombard, IL my husband and I went to an event where a month membership to Patriot Boxing was one of the prizes. I was intrigued to say the least and dumped all of my tickets in that prize hoping to win. Sure enough, they called our number!
The first time I went to Patriot I ‘eased’ in with a Yoga Sculpt class. And when I say ‘eased,’ I should also clarify there was nothing easy about this class! It was very challenging but I loved every minute of it. Next I gave the boxing and five round classes a try and it wasn’t long before my husband and I were both signed up. Fast forward over a year later, we are still members, have added our children to the membership for their martial arts classes, and attended a number of special events hosted by Patriot.
The thing I love most about this gym is they ‘get it.’ Nick and Tracey get to know their members and truly treat them as part of the Patriot family. They are always offering a special challenge or event to bring people together. They aren’t just building a gym, they are changing lives and fostering relationships.
I asked a good friend of mine who is also a member to write about her Patriot experience. I think her title says it all…
Jab, Cross, I’m Hooked!
by Laura Johnson
Gyms are like bars. They can be fancy, worn down, gimmicky, cooperate cookie cutters, new age and natural, and meat-markets. Then there is my gym, Patriot Boxing and Fitness. It is the neighborhood bar of gyms, and my second home. It is still funny to say that I spend five hours or more per week in a boxing gym. Me: the girl who hates physical confrontation. If people get in a fight near me, I disappear and run away from the physical conflict. That is funny to think about because up to this point in my life I have always been a runner, and now I box with mitts, and punch and kick heavy bags. This has been my choice form of fitness for about a year, and I had no idea that this little boxing gym would become my Cheers.
When you begin a fitness journey in a public place you shine a light on yourself and your current state of physical being in front of a group of strangers. Strangers who are on their own fitness journey that you know nothing about, so your ignorance mixed with nerves can lead you to infer that they are looking at you and judging you. Is everyone looking at my love handles? How am I going to get through this after sitting at a desk too many days per week? Is that a parent of a student? Is that a former student of mine? Is the instructor going to be annoyed with me, since I am new? Why are these bags close together? Ahhhhh!
Once the class started, I had no time or energy to continue this negative self-talk. The class was a whirl wind of jumping jacks, burpees, punches, running, and strength. Half way through, when I thought about stopping for the day, I started to get a few combinations right and punching the bag released some of my frustration. When the class was over, I was exhausted, red-faced, and super sweaty; but I was amazed that my out of shape body could finish the class. I was hooked on throwing hooks to reach a healthier stronger me.
Patriot Boxing and Fitness provided the classes to help me tone- up, increase my speed, and overall level of physical health, but there was an added bonus of conditioning when my inner-self was strengthened as well. This happened due to my gift of gab, and my desire to connect with the people who were sweating next to me several hours per week. I started by looking for the resident gym rats because I felt like I was becoming one. I walked up to a woman who had awesome toned arms and chiseled legs of steel to give her a simple compliment on her strong physique. How could I not compliment her in person? Her hard work and dedication to physical fitness was evident, and I had noticed it right away. Secretly, for a few weeks, I quietly looked up to her for fitness inspiration. She was a great person to observe at the gym because you realize there are not short cuts to get results like that.
After I shared some well-deserved gym props with her, she gave me some too, and we began greeting each other regularly before class, sharing a sweaty smile of encouragement, and hanging after class to have a longer, more meaningful conversation. Fitness for her lives in the nucleus of her life, and I wasn’t surprised to find out that her whole family worked out at the gym, and it was truly her second home. We hit it off as moms who enjoy getting a high off of pushing ourselves in the gym. This was the first real fitness connection that I had made, and I am so glad to have her in my life supporting me on my fitness goals and in other areas of my life.
This inspired me to keep talking to people who ended up at a bag near me. Next, it was a young man who never missed a day at the gym, since he was involved in the gym’s winter weight loss challenge. He was smashing through his weight loss goals each week. I was drawn to his competitive spirit. He set a goal and wasn’t going to settle for second. After many short, choppy conversations and words of encouragement between the bags, I learned that he went to school near my first teaching position, and he knew some of my former students. (I also learned that my Patriot workouts were helping me keep up with the younger crowd.) By sharing a smile and a chat while sweating, I was able to connect with several others who beat on the bags around me, and I could write pages and pages about each and every one of them.
This unexpected domino effect of connection has led a unique mix of people, who would not have crossed paths outside of a gym, to become friends founded on fitness, and who are now walking, lunging, squatting, and doing mountain climbers on the path of lifelong wellness. We text each other to see who is coming to the gym, to make sure we all have our favorite bag to beat on during class. We laugh and push each other during class, and this makes many classes seem to fly. When the classes fly, we stay for a second class, lift weights together, or linger at the gym to catch up.
We also make time for each other outside of the gym with group outings, message boards, and thoughtful planning when it is time to celebrate life accomplishments or growing another year older. This group also doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff that we encounter: parenting, spouses, dating, money, work, divorce, illnesses, surgeries, getting older and working on other scars that didn’t heal quite right. We have gone from only using sweat therapy: boxing, lifting, and running to also sitting on a couch or around a table with each other to share, listen, advise, and strengthen each other from the inside out.
This has become a wellness community, a neighborhood “bar,” my Cheers where, “everybody knows your name,” and the fights are a sport, a healthy physical activity, and not a beer brawl. At Patriot Boxing and Fitness, I found people who now share a corner in the ring of life and support each other through out each round.
As you can see by Laura’s story, being a part of a gym can benefit your life in so many ways beyond your physical achievements. Don’t be intimidated by a gym, find one that treats you like family and you will always feel like home when you are there.
About the Author: Laura Johnson is a working mom, wife, middle school teacher, and a very amateur boxer.
Patriot Boxing is located at 645 South IL Rt 83, Elmhurst, IL 60126
Check out their class schedule here, I know Nick Tracey and the entire Patriot Family would love to meet you.