Gleasons Gym – Spring into Action

Spring is here. If you’re like the rest of us who want to get in shape when the warmer weather rolls around, then chances are, you’re already looking for a fun and fast way to make that happen. Want to beat everyone else to the punch? Try stepping out of your comfort zone, and into the ring.

Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee
Boxing is not your ordinary workout, and Gleason’s is not your ordinary gym. Peter Robert Gagliardi (aka Bobby Gleason) opened the original Bronx establishment in 1937. Local heroes who trained there would go on to win national titles, earning the gym a reputation for turning out top-ranked contenders and champions. Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, even trained there in the mid-60s, before winning the World Heavyweight Title in his fight against Sonny Liston. As other gyms faltered, Gleason’s prevailed, and eventually became the only one to remain of boxing’s “Golden Age” in New York City.

Over the years, the gym has doubled as a movie set, been home to the sport’s top trainers, and has become a favorite among women. Gleason’s had moved from the Bronx to Manhattan, and in 1983, settled into its current residence in Brooklyn. The larger space allowed for the women’s program to flourish. Currently, women make up a good percentage of the gym’s membership, highlighting the fact that boxing isn’t only about competing on an amateur or professional level, but it’s also an incredible workout. Boxing offers mental stimulation, stress relief, and helps you acquire a lean physique. It’s an enjoyable and exciting way to get into great shape quickly.

The Current Titleholder
Today, Gleason’s Gym is owned and operated by Bruce Silverglade. Silverglade got his start in amateur boxing as a volunteer. He began as a referee, then a judge, and eventually became the president of amateur boxing in New York. One day, back in 1981, while in Gleason’s, the owner had mentioned that he was looking for a partner. Silverglade didn’t skip a beat. He immediately bought 50 percent of the company. In 1991, his partner passed away, making Silverglade the sole owner ever since.

“Boxing is a unique sport. Only a certain number of people and a certain personality enter this sport to compete,” Silverglade tells INLOVE Magazine. “It’s now becoming more popular. Many men and women are getting into boxing gyms to train and become fit. But fighters are unique. It’s a competition which is really a combat. You’re going into a small square, you’re standing about two feet away from another individual, and you’re both trying to hit one another.”

Gleason’s is a large gym in the sport. They have about 1200 members, with a population that comes from the metropolitan area. “Gleason’s has been around for a long time,” Silverglade continued. “The reputation brings people in here.”

Hit like a Girl
“Women [who come here] usually have a good education. They’re looking for a challenge, so they come into this type of environment. The men, on the other hand, they’re from your lower socioeconomic areas, and they’re looking for a way out of poverty. They enter the sport to become the next Mike Tyson or Floyd Mayweather.”

Let’s Work It Out
Boxing is a complete cardiovascular workout. It works the upper body and lower body. Here, you’re using all of your muscle groups at the same time.
“The aim of the sport is to be in very good condition,” Silverglade says. “In all sports, you have to be conditioned, but in boxing, you have to be in as good of a condition at the end of the contest, as you are in the beginning. At the end of your 12th round, you can’t put your hands down and tell your opponent that you’re going to take a breather because he’s there to harm you. You have to be prepared and fast. The difference in boxing, as opposed to some of the other sports and conditioning, is that you have this fear.”

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
“Everybody that competes in boxing, whether they’re professionals or amateurs, have fear. If someone tells you that it doesn’t bother them, that they’re never afraid, they’re not telling you the truth. It’s a physiological phenomenon. Everybody has fear when they go into this kind of a situation. It saps your energy. There’s also a tremendous adrenaline rush. The adrenaline saps your energy. Everything that you’re involved with takes energy away from you. You have to be so super fit, that you can overcome your normal anxiety, your normal workout, but also the fear and the anxiety that goes with the sport.”

Think Outside of the Box
“Boxing is more mental than it is physical. You have to be in great physical condition, but you have to be a smart fighter inside and outside of the ring. We teach you to overcome the fear so that you can protect yourself. This way, fear helps instead of hinders you. We teach you to concentrate as if you’re performing at Madison Square Garden in front of 18,000 people, and you don’t hear any of them. You only listen to your cornerman. You have to be concentrated and focus on what you’re doing,” Silverglade explained.

“We train you to do this as something that you can do in everyday life. Even if you’re not going to be a fighter, the men and women that come in to get into condition, we train your mind. If they become an attorney in front of a jury, or they’re a school teacher in front of a class, if they’re a garbage man or a housewife, whoever they are, they’re going to be doing much better than they would if they weren’t trained mentally and physically to be in such top condition.”

Shapeshifter
How long does it take to get in shape? “It doesn’t take long, but it’s up to each individual,” Silverglade advises. “I can’t say that everybody within a few weeks is going to be at the same point. Everybody picks up and learns at their own pace. What happens in boxing is that if you try it out, and you like it, you’re addicted to it, and you keep coming back all the time. There’s a camaraderie with the people here. There’s a big group of people that are supporting one another, as well as learning the sport, so it helps things get done much faster.”

When the Gloves Come Off
“It’s a total workout,” Silverglade points out. “You’re going to get in shape from head to foot. You’re not going in and pumping iron where you’re working on one particular body part or something. You’re not playing football where half of the game you’re not involved in the action, same with basketball, same with soccer. When you’re in the action, you’re in it. Boxing is complete action from start to finish. Because of that, you’re conditioned better because you’re more active.”

Going the Distance
“It’s also very rewarding,” Silverglade added. “All of a sudden, you notice that your belt starts fitting a little looser; when you go up and down the steps, you do it quicker and with less anxiety. Everything is positive. And, you have the support of the entire gym; not only your trainer, but everybody in here is super supportive. They’re doing the same thing. It makes it a very easy and comfortable type of workout.”

Weighing-in
“Feeling physically fit and conditioning is a relative term, which is determined by each individual,” Silverglade explained about seeing results. “We have people come in here, and they’re getting married in three months, so they want to look better. Summertime is coming, and they want to look better for the beaches. As a general rule, which can’t apply to everyone, I would say somewhere between a four- and six-week period you will see a tremendous difference in your body and your stamina.”

Boxers:
Yuri Foreman – is an Israeli professional boxer who held the WBA super welterweight title from 2009 to 2010. He was born in Gomel, Belarus, but currently fights out of Brooklyn, New York. Foreman has also pursued Jewish religious studies during his boxing career, and in 2014 was ordained as a rabbi.

Heather Hardy – is an American professional boxer and mixed martial artist. In boxing, she held the WBO featherweight title from October 2018 to September 2019. She is also a trainer, living and working in Brooklyn, New York.

All Sports Fashion is sponsored by EVERLAST (for INLOVE)
Location: Gleason’s Gym – 130 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Sari Cohen