By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
On June 1, Elevation Combat Sports Academy and instructor Janinne Dugan began a women's boxing and kickboxing class in which roughly 20 women attended.
OBSERVER?Photo by Stefan?Gestwicki
Pictured are members of the Elevation Combat Sports Academy women’s boxing class. The class meets every Tuesday, Thursday and?Saturday.
Today, most of those 20 women are still taking that class along with 30 other women as the Dojo is the place to be Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday mornings for women looking to feel better about themselves and get into shape.
Dugan said her joy of teaching the class comes from, "Seeing these ladies get the same passion for the sport I have had. Just being able to teach them what I know and watch them grow has been awesome. I love to watch them walk in with no confidence and leaving now with lots of confidence. They are having fun and feeling good about themselves. Everyone has developed a special bond."
Dugan has had a passion for the sport for five years, so when ECSA owner David Harriger opened the gym, he knew exactly who to ask to teach the course.
"I saw the potential she has at bringing out the best in other people and figured she could reach people in a different way than I could," Harriger said. "They might not listen to me because I am a guy. When they see her do the techniques, it's someone they can look up to. She likes to get to that next level and it's fun to watch her strive for that. These women came because they knew Janinne. People just gravitate to that woman."
One women who has gravitated to Dugan is Cynthia Cuevas.
See BOXING, Page B3
"Her energy is incredible and her persona is amazing," Cuevas said. "She walks in here and everyone's spirit is lifted."
Cuevas recalled a time in class when most of the participants had completed a grueling challenge.
"We were ready to be done," Cuevas said. "We were outside and breathing hard. Janinne went out there, and though she was tired, she started doing push ups. She created that energy. In two seconds, we were all out there with her doing everything together to get it done. She is an extremely good motivator. If we miss one class, we get a text. She just makes sure she touches base with everyone and everyone is OK. She is amazing. I love her."
Marge Ebert was a zumba instructor and has decided to become the instructee for a change.
Ebert has enjoyed the class because it has improved chronic pains she has dealt with in the past.
"I walked in here with knee and feet problems," she continued. "Doing what we do has strengthened both my knees. My feet don't hurt anymore. I have more upper body strength and my endurance is much better. It's been a blast. I wouldn't miss a class."
Ebert says what makes the class unlike any other class she has been a part of is the camaraderie of the group.
The group participated in the ECSA Turkey drive during Thanksgiving and are celebrating Christmas together with a group dinner.
"The girls are awesome," she said. "They are all real motivation for everyone. If someone is down, we bring them right back up. If someone is falling behind, we join in to help them finish."
The youngest student is 13 years old while the oldest student is in her 60s.
Ebert noted the younger classmates have a hard time keeping up with her.
"I love it. It's a good running joke," she said. "They call me Rocky."
One of the younger students in the class, Lindsey Harp jokingly begged to differ with Ebert.
"I get frustrated when I can't do some of the things the older women can do," Harp said with a laugh. "It's great though. Since August, I'm faster and stronger. I see my muscles growing. I like it."
While trying a workout class may be daunting for some, these women can assure a fun and friendly atmosphere for all skill levels.
"We have had a lot of people not sure if they want to try it," Dugan said. "We throw gloves on them and teach them everything they need to know. Know they are hooked and are bringing friends. We love seeing someone walk in and see them change how they feel about themselves. We have had a couple ladies come in very intimated and within a couple months we have them feeling so good about themselves and slowly breaking down their fear and intimidation."
Ebert said, "Just come try it once and make your own opinion. If they try it once, they will fall in love with it. We are all encouraging - very, very encouraging."
"Once you step in those doors, it's all laughter," Cuevas said. "It's a lot of fun with a lot of sweating. We work hard, but it's a lot of laughs - tons of laughs."
"I was very hesitant," Harp said. "I came and watched one class. I saw it was laid back and it wasn't scary. I was excited to start. I like coming and working out and feeling really awesome when I punch things really had. Just come and watch it. You will want to get in because it's so much fun."
Harriger concluded, "I haven't been around a group of women who don't yell and argue like this. There is no negativity. Normal working out is boring. There is interaction here. There is music blasting and people are having fun. It's a different atmosphere than the typical gym."