Cardio High Visits Peter Welch’s Gym in South Boston
Boxing as a sport has faded from pop culture in the United States. There are no figures like Ali or Tyson anymore. But boxing as a way to get a good workout is on the rise. Both men and women agree that punching is a cathartic experience for anyone.
Peter Welch opened his boxing gym in South Boston in 2007, though he has been involved with the sport for 33 years since the age of 9. Derric and I attended an intro Fighter Conditioning workout at the gym where a young trainer, Sean, ran us through the basic punches: left jab, right punch and left and right hooks.
After a punching intro, Sean led us into the big room where a boxing ring is surrounded by 20 heavy bags hanging from the ceiling along the walls. There is plenty of old school ambiance: boxing photos, fight posters and lots of Irish clovers sprinkled around the gym. The visuals add the ambience of a place that is serious about boxing and high intensity training. Our workout soundtrack was classic rap like Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg cranked to 11. The music is a nice distraction, though it made it a little hard to hear the instructions barked out by James, our instructor who sported a headset mic.
This workout was my first experiment using the Polar H7 chest monitor and the Polar Beat app to track the intensity of a workout. It should be noted that the intensity is up to the client. I could slog my way through the movements and leave my heart in a quiet mellow zone, or I could take a simple movement and go full tilt raising my heart rate into the highest zone, aka zone 5 – the red one.
Our class of 20 people varied in age, gender and race. The warm-up started with jumping rope – a rather tough one for an old man like me. I could feel some tendon pain in the ankles and knees, so I kept the jumping to small hops. Then we took a jog around the gym. Our warm-up continued with squats, mountain climbers, and movements that I usually use for an interval. We finished with line/ladder drills and air punching.
Then we got to box. We paired up with a partner, so one person would hold the heavy bag while the other would go to town on the bag with various combinations. A heavy bag looks like a nice soft punching bag, but, in fact, most bags have about as much give as a wall. After I threw my first 1-2-1 combo at the bag, I could feel my right shoulder raise its hand and scream out, “What the f$#k are you doing to me?”
I felt the competitive juices flowing and tried to hit the bag in a way that didn’t seem
completely wimpy. My left jab wouldn’t scare a mouse, but I could generate some power with the right by using hip rotation. And gradually I found a way to relax the shoulders, lighten up on the swing and get into a punching groove that did not cause serious vibration to run down my arm into the shoulder. It wasn’t the second coming of Joe Louis, but I was still proud of my progress. The punching drills ended with all-out speed punches of 90 and then 100 punches in 30-second intervals.
To close the workout, the gloves came off and we did 8 intervals of sprinting, box taps, squats, push-ups, dips, planks and squat jumps.
Derric and I worked up a nice sweat and felt a pretty good buzz from the workout. The lack of a dynamic gentle warm-up or ending cool down is a little tough for an old man, but there were no major injuries and I definitely felt good the next day.
Check out this interview with Peter Welch.
My stats at Fighter Conditioning:
- 46:30 minutes
- 372 Calories
- 166 HR Max
- 0:00 zone 5
- 11:35 zone 4
- 13:56 zone 3
- 17:28 zone 2
- 2:45 zone 1