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Locals apply some ‘sweet science’ to working out

(Note: This is the third in a series on alternatives to traditional workout regimes. Aside from preventing boredom, it has been shown that varying one’s workouts improves results. Consult a doctor before starting any workout program.)

The Freret Street Boxing Gym has already garnered a local cult following with its near-monthly Friday Night Fights, held outside in an adjacent parking lot and featuring slates of amateur bouts amid a carnival atmosphere of live music and beer.

Any other day, however, you’ll find a much more focused, less festive atmosphere inside the gym, with people sweating through their clothes on the jump rope, speed bag, heavy bag, weights, plyometrics and sparring in the ring. A loud buzzer marks off training intervals of three minutes – with a brief rest period – to mimic the rigors of a bout.

“There’s no air conditioning, it’s pretty raw, and nobody cares what you look like,” said Meaghan Ryan Bonavita, who began training at the Freret Street gym back in May in order to lose the baby weight from her first child. A health club regular for much of her adult life, “I just kind of got tired of going to those girly classes,” she said.

Coincidentally, a family friend mentioned at a dinner party that he trained at the Freret Street Boxing Gym. She also found out that a couple of other friends from Isidore Newman, her high-school alma mater, worked out there. So she gave it a shot, and it proved to be the perfect antidote to years of step classes and Pilates.

After a few sessions with head trainer Mike Tata to learn all of the punches and moves, Bonavita can now work out on her own if she chooses or with Keith Director, the club’s strength and conditioning coach.

A typical week for Bonavita might include weight training, abdominal work, and squats with Director on Monday; cardio work on the treadmill and jump-rope along with a few rounds on the speed and heavy bags on Tuesday; a long walk on Wednesday; another hour with Director on Thursday; more cardio on Friday; a run on Saturday; and something family related – a walk in the park or a bicycle ride – on Sunday.

And while she said she has no desire to step into the ring and spar, Ryan said she has become a bigger fan of “the sweet science” and attends many of the Friday Night Fights.

The interval-style training in boxing – short bursts of explosive movements interspersed with short rest periods – along with the plyometric/body weight exercises are techniques “that pro athletes use,” said Director. “Using shorter, timed exercises allows them to keep their muscle mass but become lean and strong through the core, which is really important for a lot of people.”

While some people may be tentative to jump into the world of boxing training, Director says to put those fears behind them.

“All of these people that train with me have been with me for years, but they were all beginners in the beginning,” he said. “You have to start somewhere, that’s my philosophy.”

The Freret Street Boxing Gym is located at 4510 Freret Street; telephone, 504.895.1859.

Other boxing gyms around the area that offer training include (but are not limited to):

Neutral Corner Boxing at 8000 Forshey Street in Mid-City, 504.485.0240,

Crescent City Boxing at 5402 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Metairie, 504.287.4763,


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