Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Boxing Publicly vs. Boxing Privately

The photo above shows the boxing trophies I've gained so far.  All of them came via the Chicago Park District.  Willie attends the church where I go, and he has also helped coach the kids in the youth boxing program at Loyola Park.  "I had so many of those trophies, I had to start throwing them away," he once told me.  Maybe I'll get as many as he has, but I don't think I'd want to part with any of mine. 

The Chicago Park District is a good place to learn how to box.  But not everybody is a fan.  Over the years I've heard many grumbles about the quality of the Park District program.  Most have higher praise for the private boxing gyms.  But what are the true pros and cons? 

1.  The price
It's often way cheaper to sign up for a city-run boxing program than it is to pull many dollars out of the wallet for a private gym.  For example, I know that what people pay monthly at some private boxing gyms is more than what the Chicago Park District charges for roughly two and a half months.  Depending on the municipality that runs the gym, those under 18 years of age may be able to attend boxing classes for free.  Everything is usually included: the coaching, the equipment, use of gloves and headgear. 

In a private gym, the monthly fee could be anywhere from fifty to a hundred and thirty or even more.  That's only covering being able to get inside the place, hit the bags, and use the locker room.  If lessons are desired, that will cost extra.  Some places have group lessons, but once again, that's a separate charge from the regular gym dues.  There may be a different fee levels depending on what the private gym offers.  For example, one plan that just allows use of the place may cost $60, but if a person wants that, plus the privilege of using a sauna and getting a rub down, that may cost $100. 

2.  The time
Municipal gyms follow a strict schedule.  Unless the coach has their own key to the gym and/or has free reign to come in on other days without having to ask permission, the gym is only open during specific times and days.  The kids use the gym a couple of times a week at Loyola Park, and the adults use the gym two days.  The kids and adults aren't allowed to be in the gym at the same time, so there's none of this, "Oh, I missed this day, so I'll just go when the kids are there." 

Some private gyms are open earlier and they close later.   There are gyms that are open 24 hours a day that accommodate every one's schedules. 

3.  The quality of the training
I've known guys who have switched from coach to coach within the Chicago Park District system.  Their reasons were based on coaching styles.  People who don't feel that one coach is doing the right things to bring them along in the game will jump from one field house to another.  People will switch from one private gym to another for the same reasons.

In defense of city-run gyms, the criticism about the coaches' training styles is a bit unfair.  Some adults forget that municipal boxing programs are about training good amateur boxers, not pros.  Many amateur coaches have no interest in getting involved in professional boxing.  They will work with people to learn the boxing basics, and faithfully be in their corners at all the amateur boxing shows and tournaments.  However, if someone has their mind on being the next Laila Ali or Manny Pacquiao, it would be best to find a coach that prepares fighters for the professional ranks.

4.  The equipment
Yep, private gyms can more than likely afford better gloves, head gear, speed bags, etc. than municipal gyms.  Whether or not the municipal gyms get new equipment - or get the old equipment replaced or fixed - depends on the municipality's budget. 

However, those who go to private gyms are also more likely to use their own gloves, head gear, jump ropes, and hand wraps because the private gym doesn't always supply those items.    But then, it's not always cool to stick one's hand in a sweaty glove that someone else just used during sparring in a municipal gym.

People have to choose what is better for them in terms of boxing training, and how much they want to get out of it when choosing where to train. 

1 comment:

Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

Good post, Hillary. I'm of the opinion that you can learn no matter where you are. There are lots of people who would rather pay out big money and whine that they're "not getting enough" because they expect a trainer to open their brains and pour in all the knowledge and ability (since they paid so much money). You CAN learn and advance at ANY gym, and I think it's always smart to have sparring connections in several places and listen to every coach you can get training time with. Discard the not-as-helpful, keep the helpful, and mix it all in together as you grow!