What I Learned From Church Street Boxing, Toughest Gym In Tribeca
Posted by Wei Min Tan on March 19, 2019
Church Street Boxing, the toughest gym in Tribeca, is my first destination every weekday. I’m at the gym by 6:30am. The workout is done by 8am. This is the toughest part of the day. Doing property transactions don’t compare to the intensity at Church Street. This is where we do hundred of burpees, pushups, punches and kicks during the workout session.
Property deals don’t leave me bruised or savoring every second of a 30 second break between sets or rounds. Church Street is where the real challenge lies and it makes everything else seem easy. This is where I’ve developed friendships, finally got abs and realized how much further I can push myself, if done incrementally and over time.
Five years ago, after having been a member at New York Sports Club and then Equinox for many years, I wanted to increase the intensity of workouts to reach the next level. At that time, I noticed that it’s the fighters who are the most cut and defined. Hence I started looking at fight gyms in the neighborhood. The UFC being popular also influenced the decision to check out fight gyms.
When I joined Church Street, the classes throughout the day were of different intensity because of the different trainers. The weekday 7am boot camp class was, and still is, the hardest because of the crowd and trainer (Lee). Only the hardcore wake up for a 7am class. I realized from the beginning that classes at Equinox don’t compare to Church Street’s volume and intensity. I still keep membership at Equinox but go there mainly to shower after Church Street.
To give an idea of the volume at Church Street, 200 burpees is covered in about 15 minutes. The remaining 45 minutes comprise various workouts of similar intensity. My last record, which I did as warm up before Chris’ Saturday muay thai class, was 380 body builders in 24 minutes, 30 seconds. A body builder, slightly more than a burpee, starts with a jumping jack and goes into a pushup. A burpee goes from a jump up into a pushup.
Church Street is a striking gym, focusing on boxing and muay thai. My focus is muay thai, the “art of eight limbs.” Muay thai involves punches, kicks, elbows and knees. Two of each hence “eight limbs.” At a distance, there are punches and kicks. At close range, there’s the clinch, take down, elbows and knees. In addition, muay thai has less hits to the head because the targets are head, body and legs.
What I Learned
Get into a community of like-minded people. This is what makes the 7am class so hardcore. We show up and push one another. The energy is amazing. When working out by myself, the output is only about 25 percent compared to working out with my group. Peer pressure is good.
2) Show Up
My goal used to be to attend Church Street 3 times a week. Then it increased to five times and now I go every day. As with anything in life, get in the right environment and do the work in the right environment. It’s that simple. No amount of reading Men’s Health is getting you into better shape. You need to show up and do the work.
A good fighter is relaxed and not all pumped and muscled up. A relaxed fighter can react and respond faster. However, it’s very difficult to stay relaxed when someone is trying to punch or kick you. Adrenalin takes over and it’s normal to tense up. It takes hundreds of rounds of sparring to stay relaxed and controlled. In muay thai, punch/kick combinations are practiced over and over so that muscle memory takes over when sparring. Muscle memory only functions well when you’re relaxed.
When you can relax in a sparring situation, relaxing when doing real estate deals is so much easier. In sparring, messing up means getting hit and bruised. With real estate, losing a deal doesn’t involve bodily harm.
4) Pushing Incrementally
This refers to increasing load incrementally and over time. For example, when I started on my body builder (harder version of burpees) spree, it was 100 straight. Then 135 straight, then 175…. and most recently 380 straight in 24 minutes 30 seconds. I learned that merely going for a record without incrementally building up results in injury. For example, I once jumped rope for 45 minutes without working up to it. This resulted in shin splints. With the body builder exercise, I worked up incrementally. No injury, and I can keep increasing further.
Church Street is real. There is no babying of members. There is a lot of pushing. It’s not for softies, although I really respect the newbies when they come and keep coming back and get better over time. We notice these things. Then there are newbies who come and couldn’t keep up for 15 minutes. And those who stay for the first time and don’t return.
This gym is part of my identity and has made me a tougher and more competitive person overall.
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