February 12, 2013
Boxing a path to fitness
Personal trainer and Cortland resident Jason Morgan sees the boxing classes he offers at the YMCA twice weekly as his way of giving back to the community.
The classes are free to YMCA members and inexpensive for the public, who are taught the basic skills of boxing to accomplish their individual fitness goals.
Morgan, a bodybuilder with a 24-year background in martial arts, introduces kicks and cardio techniques to the boxing classes. The kicks are only introduced after people have learned all eight technical punches, he says.
The students range from ages 18 to 55 and are mostly women.
Morgan has offered the classes for three years, and says at least two students, both women, have progressed to the point where they could get in a ring and box competitively if they wanted.
At a session Feb. 4, 21-year-old Groton resident Alyssa Rhodes hit a punching bag, interspersing her moves with roundhouse kicks and knees.
At one point, the students took turns punching and kicking an instructor, an exercise that left them exhausted and out of breath.
Rhodes said the exercise got her heart pumping.
Rhodes said she has been coming for about a year and when she started school she stopped coming for a while. But she was picking up where she left off.
“It’s good exercise and I like being able to defend myself in a certain way,” Rhodes said. “It’s a nice workout at the same time.”
Feb. 4 was the first class for her boyfriend, Brian Morrison, 24, of Moravia. Morrison was learning from Morgan how to step and slide, and the proper rhythm and movements for punches.
He said it was fun and he was getting a good workout.
Some students come to improve personal fitness or learn some self defense moves, others come to increase their cardiovascular capacity and speed. All experience a boost in confidence, says Morgan.
Boxing is an art, he says.
The key is to relax and let movements flow, always keeping a solid base with a slide and step movement.
Students first learn two punches: a jab and a cross.
In each successive class students are taught two more punches, as long as they have mastered the punches from the previous class.
The slide and step movement allows people to maintain balance and stability while escaping punches and moving around the ring.
“If you don’t have the walk down you can’t give 100 percent,” Morgan says.
Righties will jab with their left hand and cross with their right, while lefties do the reverse, which establishes distance between a boxer and competitor, says Morgan.
“All of this is about equilibrium, one side plays off the other side,” Morgan said.
Students have mastered the art when their body learns to go effortlessly through the movements, says Morgan.
Students see cardiovascular benefits as well as increased strength and dexterity. The class also does some light sparring once students improve their form and progress through all eight punches.
For Morgan, his goal for his students is simple.
“To improve their way of life through fitness, and with that everything else positive follows,” he says.
Boxing is just another tool through which people can improve their lives through fitness, he said.
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