The definition of a no frills gym, Church Street Boxing (Park Place) is all about old school sweat with very, very little focus on the aesthetic. This vibe is great, because sometimes in this city we learn about workouts via the electric mural post on Instagram before we hear about the quality of the workout, so a gym like this is super refreshing. Here the ring is not just for show as many pro and pro-hopeful boxers call it home for regular weekly training. There is certainly a feeling of both authenticity and neighborhood community upon walking in the doors. You simultaneously feel welcomed, but also that you have to “earn your stripes.” So sure, the locker rooms and equipment at Church Street Boxing are a bit run down, but man does this gym deliver in sweat. Just think to yourself: Rocky Balboa would have been proud to train here.
Ooh child, get ready to run. Church Street is known for the “gym class” style laps that directly follow each warm up. Sometimes it’s actual laps around the block, but more likely they are stair runs, and each location has a hefty amount of them. This typically wouldn’t be a huge deal, but the warm up itself is no joke: we kicked things off with moves like jump squats and plank push ups right out of the gate. So, naturally it made sense to transition into a six lap, three story stair run, after which we were rewarded with some active recovery in the form of partner boxing drills. Now this is where that gym class part comes back in: here was a lot of time spent standing in line waiting for our turn. Don’t get us wrong, it was nice to have a breather, but we could feel our heart rate crashing back down. We did get it back up again with some partner work on boxing technique and partner abs. Typically the all levels classes have a TON of attendees, so you may not get as much one-to-one time as you need for progress improvement on your punches. But, they will not let you skip a beat when it comes to finishing every last toe touch.
Ali or Mike Tyson, take the wheel! This is by far the most confusing instructor we’ve worked with in the boxing world. It was super clear to us that Kenny was making everything up as he went, which we are sure many instructors do, but rarely is it ever this noticeable. Plus, his long chain combinations caused a ton of “wait, what?” blank stares. We love when someone changes it up from just a simple jab, cross, but some of the sequences were complex enough that they slowed us down and prevented us from getting a really good sweat on. On top of everything, Kenny for some reason just seems really unhappy to see everyone during class. “Didn’t realize we were interrupting your snapchat sesh, should we come back another time?”
Let’s just lay it out on the table. This space is raw. Located in the basement of a building just off of Church Street, you descend three flights and are welcomed by the sounds of super loud hip-hop or rap. As it is “open gym” during operating hours, there are tons of regulars spread out across the hardwood or in the ring, leaving classes to typically find space where available. Looking around, you can’t help but notice the collage depicting boxing history and boxing-related TV shows or movies really reinforcing the overall vibe. This “authenticity” comes with some drawbacks as compared to other NYC fitness options: there’s no towel service (either for sweat or for shower), you have to bring your own lock, and there’s a super cramped locker room. Not to mention that you really have to find your own way. The staff is perfectly friendly, but no one is going to hold your hand or put on your wraps for you. And y’all should hope and pray that your class is not in the dreaded “back room” down a long hallway that could have been used as a filming space for The Silence of the Lambs. It’s an unventilated room they typically use for MMA classes and sometimes boxing, with all the magic of fluorescent lighting and not a fan in sight. If you take any of the barefoot classes back there, your feet are going to be super dirty by the end.
25 Park Pl, New York, NY 10007 Tribeca Boxing $$$
Church Street Boxing Park Place
Tribeca Boxing, $$$
25 Park Pl, New York, NY 10007
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Church Street BoxingBoxing, Bootcamp
Full speed is the only option for this class, so we highly suggest that you have solid form down from both boxing and strength training perspectives. It’s clear the instructors have this expectation of you since demonstrations and supervision are hard to come by. The class began with Jenaro handing us each a heavy plate (varying from 10 to 25 lbs based on what he thought you could handle) and instructing us to do 3 laps around the block (a New York City block!). Yes folks, that was the warm up. That plate, we soon found out, would become our best pal as we transitioned into the plyometric portion – sitting on our backs during planks and spiderman push ups, over our heads during lunges and at our chest during squats. We finally got to say “sayonara, plate” during the boxing/strength training circuit. Each of us took our turn doing one boxing drill and one body weight move over and over and over, only stopping to do a set of burpees each time the instructor called out to do so. However, we weren’t sure half the time if he was referring to us or to the person he was technique training with one-on-one: his instructions were really only inaudible grunt-scream-commands anyway. There was equal confusion at each station since there was never a full explanation of what we were supposed to be doing. So you saw a lot of different “interpretations” of each move or challenge (us: “Wait, weren’t we supposed to do bosu push ups here?” classmate: *shrug*) Somewhere between gasps of air, we made it to the conclusion with abs. This of course was no less brutal, and we covered every sit up, crunch, and plank under the sun.
How do we put this? If your schoolyard bully grew up to be a fitness instructor, they would be Jenaro. Now, this is not to say that he is mean, he is actually a super nice guy. But, his style is unforgiving and relentless. Guys, he started of the class by saying “I’m looking to put someone in a coffin today”…. Soooo, you can see what we mean. He is also another one of Church Street’s “mumbler trainers” who is difficult to hear and seemingly screams out sounds more than commands. So, his pace combined with his delivery presents a bit of a mental challenge in addition to a physical one. Stopping to ask a question is not really an option with him; having to explain himself more than once bubbles up a bit of obvious frustration. No matter what though, he will never call you out so long as you are moving and giving your full effort.
Church Street BoxingBoxing
This is built for and run as a class for veterans who know the drill. The instructors don’t usually run through the types of punches and kicks or the proper form for each unless you ask. So, regular boxers actually might find it a welcome change from the slower starting pace of All Levels classes. The group moves at a nice clip through the warm up, which seamlessly evolves into bodyweight strength training – think bear crawls and crab walks, oh my! Shadow boxing is layered with squats, push-ups and sit ups. And our advice for partner work (where one person is punching and kicking while another holds the Thai pads) is to be extra sure to partner up wisely with someone about the same height and skill level. Trust us, we learned the hard way – picture “punching” ourselves in the face multiple times just from the impact of our partner’s punch. A big thing you learn in this class is that the “defense” side of partner training is JUST as much of a workout. All this is then topped of with some type of mystery ab challenge – say four minutes of planks with a 20 second break between each?
A heads up that it is not super easy to catch this class. It is only offered three days a week and only available at the Church Street location. So, if you are not crazy into early rising on a weekend or don’t work around this area for a lunch break sweat, there are also Muay Thai & Krav Maga options that reside in the “kickboxing family.”
I really wanted to keep calling Zev, “Zen.” For a kickboxing instructor/competitor (we think), he was very chill and calm in his instruction. For the pump up, he let his killer (and we do mean killer) playlist do the talking. This doesn’t mean that you can in any way slow your pace or zone out, ‘cause he is there right behind you when you least expect it, ninja style. In addition to keeping you accountable, he is an encouraging teacher actively helping to spot ways to improve. And before you ask, no, for some reason when he does this, it is not annoying.