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Classes with Punch

(excerpt from January 16, 1994 Houston Chronicle - Lifestyle section)


Some fitness advocates are still feeling empowered the old-fashioned way, focusing on their fists.

Attorney Diane Baumbach ended up in the boxing gym at Main Street Gym for a break from the monotony of the aerobics class, the treadmill, the rollerblades, the you-name it.

While the boxing workout in just as - if not more - vigorous than her other activities, she said, the punching sessions are also a great way to let out frustrations.  Trainer Steve Kozakov took the force from the bag as Baumbach pummeled it, jabbing left, right, left, right, her face grimacing on impact.

Main Street Gym, where heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield works out, is basically two boxing rings surrounded by a hodgepodge of weight bags, stationary bikes and air conditioning ducts.  Snoop Doggy Dogg's on the radio.

Kozakov - who quit his car-selling job two months ago to teach boxing and kick boxing full time - is attracting the already fit who are bored with the same old routine.  Other kick-boxing students on a recent day were Brian Rose, a Cornell University economics student on a break, and Lecinda Owens, a recent University of Houston grad.  "I think a lot more women should just try in out," she said.

In the gym, the students get a rigorous workout practicing kicks, climbing a stair machine, shadow-boxing, undergoing excruciating abdominal exercises, and punching the bag and Kozakov's protective mitts with 16-ounce gloves.

The boxercize class at the downtown Y takes a different tack.  The core of the class is step aerobics.  The whole class does a step warm-up, then Gary Simons takes aside a few students at a time for boxing drills while the rest of the class keeps up the bench work led by an aerobics instructor.  The students rotate between the step and the boxing gloves.