January 12 marked the one year anniversary of my first visit to Title Boxing Club in Lawrence. I had driven by the place a few times and always thought it would be interesting to try. So, when it was so icy outside (it was that ONE cold snap we had last year) that I couldn’t run for the second night in a row, I googled them and found the main website for Title, and navigated to the Lawrence Club Page. I looked at the schedule and they had a 7:30pm class with “Ron”. I called and asked if I could come and just take a class and how much it cost. I found out your first class is free, you just have to buy a set of wraps ($5.00). My body was aching for some exercise, so at about 7:15 that night, I found myself walking in the doors with my $5 in hand. I had never done this before and was absolutely clueless, but they helped me wrap my hands, find a pair of gloves to use for the class and then I found a spot in the middle of a huge array of 100# heavy bags. As I looked around the room, I saw a wide variety of body types and ages. I was still a bit bewildered but excited when a very loud, drill-seargentesque voice instructed me and the rest of the class to start rolling my head, followed by a variety of other stretches and then we began running around the bags. Hey – running! I know how to do this…Awesome! I think the warm-up lasted around 15 minutes and in addition to running there was high knees, butt kicks, skips, pushups, lunges, and so on. The loud voice then told us to get our gloves on. The loud voice belonged, of course, to the instructor, Ron Dodson. I didn’t know at the time how lucky I was to have wandered in to Title for one of his classes. I don’t even know how to refer to him…He’s not just a “teacher”. He’s a kickboxer for sure, with a really impressive record, and it’s not at all uncommon to see him demonstrating (ok maybe more showing off than demonstrating) a variety of impressive kicks before and after (and sometimes during) class. He is also a blackbelt in Karate at the master level, and he’s been a trainer with Title for 5 years. As I mentioned, he is highly audible, but it’s not just his ability to project over the music, his voice and instruction is clear and easily understandable, and he demonstrates everything he says. Ron is also highly motivating and supportive. You can often hear him say “don’t give up on yourself…I won’t give up on you, don’t you give up on yourself”, or another of my favourites, “don’t stop…if you fall down, I’ll pick you up”. He really means it too. He’ll push you hard….harder than you think you can go, and you’ll get there, and at the end, you’ll be proud of what you accomplished, and so will he…GENUINELY. A Ron class is something you really have to experience. Ron was recently named to “Gold” status as a trainer with Title. Whatever, I’ve known that for a long time now. And actually, I’d say he’s more like platinum or titanium.
I went to Title once a week for a few months, always taking Ron’s Thursday night class. It was fabulous cross-training for my running and good for my overall fitness, but what was REALLY noticeable was the difference in my arms. Prior to Title, I’d been working with weights at least 4 times a week, and doing a lot of exercises to tighten and tone my arms. 4 months of curls and kickbacks were a joke when compared to what boxing did. I now understand the guys that kiss their biceps (which I used to laugh and roll my eyes at). I love my arms. *cheesy slightly embarrassed grin* I’m not sure if it was the warmer weather or the hotter-looking arms and shoulders I had developed, but I started wearing a lot more sleeveless shirts, and I got a lot of compliments on my arms, so much so, that my legs got jealous. Ron had said to me several times that i should take his kickboxing class, and I figured, if his boxing class could do this for my arms, imagine what his kickboxing class could do for my legs. At that point, I also became a full-fledged member of Title, with unlimited use of the fitness equipment and unlimited classes. So I branched out. Lacy was the next trainer I met. I don’t know WHY I thought that taking a class from a girl would maybe be a bit easier, and don’t let the picture at left of the lovely lady with the pretty smile fool you…..Lacy is an incredible trainer and TOUGH! Like Ron, she has a loud, clear and highly motivating voice and she gives excellent instruction. And if you’re not working as hard as she knows you can, she’ll “motivate” you to amp it up, or if you are giving it everything you’ve got, she’ll encourage you to keep it up. Lacy really cares about every person that takes her class, and even when she’s “off-duty”, she still seems to be happy to give someone the support they need. In fact, in the midst of struggling through the rough miles of my marathon, Lacy spotted me. She matched pace with me for a while and talked to me, encouraging me, and reminding me of my training – It really helped me get through one of the toughest parts of that race. David has also taken her classes and they’re always a good workout but sometimes, to quote my husband “Lacy is just in a MOOD”. And when Lacy’s in “a mood”, look out, because it will be even more intense and her workouts will usually burn your butt or your abs. And when you’ve made it through, you get the reward of Lacy’s lovely smile.
Most recently, I’ve been enjoying the torture/workout that are Greg’s classes. His style is quite different than Lacy and Ron. Greg is rather quiet, but it’s a “strong silent type” of quiet. He teaches the 6am MWF class. I managed to drag my butt out of bed one early morning over the summer. I think there were 3 of us there, so we all got some personal attention. (Personal attention = mitts) I liked his class so much that I managed to make it to a few more, despite the early hour. Greg was the first (and so far only) trainer to have me throw kicks one on one though, and that was pretty cool. Greg is very quick to pick up on an individual’s capabilities…and then push them just past that. A few Greg classes later, he had us doing combinations one on one with him that included me kicking him squarely in the chest, and though I admit that I didn’t kick my hardest, that man did not move one inch! Greg also has more torture methods – I mean exercises – for abs than anyone else. The only problem is that I can’t seem to consistently get up at 5am to take his class. Lucky for me, Greg now teaches a 7pm class on Thursday nights! YAY!
Ultimately, all the trainers at Title will work you hard and take good care of you, and though I haven’t had the opportunity to take a class from all of them yet, I feel completely confident in making this assertion because I’ve also gotten to know the owners of the Lawrence (and now also Topeka) club, Jim & Angie Thomas. Angie I met while taking one of Ron’s class before I knew she owned the place. Like pretty much all of the regular members of the club, she was very friendly and encouraging. In fact, If Angie’s not taking a class with you, you might still find her in the gym on the stairmaster, and don’t be surprised if you hear sudden motivational yells from that direction. Somehow when I’m at the depths of what I think I’ve got to give, I hear Angie’s voice and if SHE says I can do it, then I must be able to do it…..and so I do. It was months before I made the connection that she was the other owner. I thought she was just another “mom who kicks butt”, kinda like me. And Jim…well, I think he must be a great guy to work for. I know how tough it is running a small business, But Jim seems to handle it all with ease. The employees there, from the trainers to the desk staff all like him. It feels a lot like a family. He and Angie clearly set the mood and expectation there. And Jim not only owns the place, he is also a trainer. I had the fortune to take one of his classes on New Years Eve Day. I had planned to take a class on New Year’s Day too, but I was too sore from Jim’s workout. I’ve said several times that I’m chasing having a “cheerleader butt” (admit it, you know what I mean, no further description necessary). A few more Jim classes and I’ll have it!
There are so many great things about Title that I could probably continue gushing for several more paragraphs. The owners, the trainers, the staff, the other members…it’s really a great and supportive environment. The classes keep things interesting and keep you from getting burnt out. They’re different each time, even from the same instructor and even on the same day (Yes, I’ve taken several two-a-days) and beyond that, they’re totally scalable – as you get better and stronger, you are able to work harder…and they’ll make you! Yes, I know I’m a bit verbose, but I really love that place and I want everyone to love it like I do. So many people ask me about my fitness secrets. Well, I don’t really have any secrets, but TItle Boxing classes are definitely a big part of my fitness arsenal. If you have even the slightest inkling to do it, I would strongly encourage you to go take a class. Remember, the first shot is free, and if you want someone to go with you, heck, I’m always happy to pick up another class.
And before you start making excuses,
- no, you are not too old (I’ve seen a really adorable 70 year old couple there),
- no, you are not too weak (Sophie and Daphne have both taken multiple classes there),
- no, you are not too out-of-shape (I’ve watched a couple of people who are more 100 pounds overweight take classes at Title regularly. They keep coming back, and they have been dropping a lot of weight and getting fitter and stronger!).
- You do NOT have to hit as hard as the person next to you, you just have to hit as hard as YOU can.
- Don’t give up on yourself!!!!
It starts by walking in the door. Now is the perfect time! Happy Hitting!