The fight is on for fitness

The fight is on for fitness

Chris Macmillan, 8, of Bristol strikes the speed bag under the watchful eye of professional MMA fighter, John “Doomsday” Howard.

It’s been called the “sweet science,” and on Sunday, June 22, boxing — and the training that goes into building strength, speed and stamina — were on display, drawing dozens of people who want to be fit to try the “sweat” science of boxing.

The afternoon family event was hosted by ICON Boxing and Fitness Gym on Gooding Avenue as a way to introduce the sport of boxing — and training for the sport of boxing — for the physical benefits it brings.

Jesse Amarelo, a two-time Golden Gloves winner and owner of the club, sees the benefits that physical activity brings and hopes events like these can help motivate others to exercise.

“We’re calling it the ICON Fitness Fest just trying to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

While children enjoyed fun activities such as the bounce house, all could try hitting the punching bags or dance around the ring like a boxer.

“Boxing is what we’re known for,” Mr. Amarelo said. “But we have boot camp, kids’ tai kwon do, adult jiu jitsu and a full fitness center.”

Because boxing is known for its element of fighting, the training is often overlooked for its health benefits. Many who train never step foot inside a boxing ring.

At 64 years of age, Eleni Loporto of Bristol took up boxing as a workout to prolong her good health. An avid golfer, Ms. Loporto noticed that she would lose her balance often when reaching down to pick up the ball. After experiencing other difficulties, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that effects a person’s motor controls.

“I read about boxing (and that) it reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s,” Ms. Loporto said.

She learned that professional boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who trains world champion Manny Pacquiao, also has Parkinson’s.

“When he’s working with the mitts, his symptoms go away,” she said. “My doctor told me, ‘I can promise you five good years.’ That’s very sobering to someone who’s active and physically fit. I’m not going to just sit around and take it. (Jesse) does the mitts with me. I’m doing what everyone else does, just at my own pace.”

Meredith Crittenden of Portsmouth brought her daughter, Annabelle, 6, to show her where she works out. Annabelle challenged herself on the rowing machine.

“It’s a fun experience,” Ms. Crittenden said of boxing. “Because there are other people there, you push yourself more.”

Mr. Amarelo hopes to make the Fitness Fest an annual event so people who want to live a healthy lifestyle don’t feel intimidated when they walk into a gym.

For Ms. Loporto, up until a few months ago, taking up boxing was the furthest thing on her mind.

“Do the things you think you cannot do,” she said. “I think we don’t realize we have that power of choice. I choose wellness.”