October 5, 2012
Fighting, fitness and fun at Empire Boxing
Fighting starts in the mind. Before you throw the first punch or kick, before you face your opponent across the ring, before you step into the squared circle underneath the lights, the prospect of victory or defeat takes seed in your imagination. Whether this seed grows into hope or despair, bravery or cowardice, confidence or fear depends on two non-physical factors: mental fortitude and discipline for training.
One of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali, said it best: "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."
Unlike other gyms that focus purely on physical training, Empire Boxing takes a cerebral approach to health and fitness. Every person who walks through its doors requires a unique and specialized approach for him to achieve his true potential as a fighter, as an athlete, or simply as someone who wants to get fit and lose weight.
Rob Del Rosario, owner of Empire Boxing, shares what makes his gym stand out from the rest: "We believe in a personalized and holistic approach. Instead of someone coming in and doing routine workouts, we have personalized training programs."
He adds: "We integrate strength and conditioning. We use an array of different disciplines. These include Mixed Martial Arts, hand-to-hand combat, Muay Thai, which is taught by guys who competed in Thailand."
A gym can have the latest equipment and the best trainers but people stay for a different reason altogether. Del Rosario knows this. His goals for Empire Boxing are for members to "have the fun-nest time of their lives and for everyone to reach their goals for fitness and health."
Fighting for fitness
Asked why he set up a fighting gym and not a "regular" gym, Del Rosario pointed to his own roots as a boxer. In the United States, he was a boxer during college and a member of the Navy boxing team. After he moved to the Philippines almost a decade ago, he was a licensed professional boxer for a time.
Del Rosario shares: "I have the right people, the right resources, the right experience, so I decided to open my own gym. I wanted to give the people a great place to work out that's considerate to their needs."
Training is one of the most valuable activities—if not the most valuable activity—in a fighter's life. Both trainer and fighter must find a proper balance in training. Overtraining can lead to a fighter getting injured or over-exhausted. Undertraining can lead to a fighter lacking the proper skills, strength and endurance come fight time.
"With any sport, we're trained to deal with injuries. Our training is designed not to cause major injuries such as fractures. We will not exploit any weaknesses but we'll push your strengths," shares Del Rosario.
Being a professional or amateur fighter is not a requirement to join Empire Boxing. Anybody can join as long as he is willing to push himself in mind and in body. Del Rosario says about the members of Empire Boxing: "We train them like fighters and how to fight. We train boxing for fitness. We design our programs so that you don't get injured but you improve if you keep training."
Fighting for life
As boastful and proud as he was, Muhammad Ali still called Sugar Ray Robinson the greatest fighter of all time. Sugar Ray Robinson shared his secret in the following quote: "Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that's in rhythm or you're in trouble."
Del Rosario keeps the rhythm of Empire Boxing in synch with his heart. An avid sports enthusiast, he indulges in alternative sports such as Motorcross, Jet Sports and skateboarding. He applies his enthusiasm for sports to Empire Boxing in the form of strength and conditioning programs tailor-made for athletes of any sport.
He says: "We can't focus on just one sport. Everybody runs but we can't offer programs just for runners." He adds: "We offer strength and conditioning and weight loss for all types of athletes and even non-athletes. We're into everything and we focus on everything we do."
They say the kind of person you are shows in the kind of people you attract or gravitate toward you. Empire Boxing shows its winning personality through the colorful mix of trainers, members and professional athletes who train behind its doors.
Its trainers include head trainer Virgilio Opeño, the 1991 World Featherweight Boxing Champion; Roel Velasco, brother of 1991 Olympic Gold Medalist Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco, from ABAP (Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines); mixed martial arts fighter Glen Ranillo of the URCC (Universal Reality Combat Championships); and Gretchen Abaniel, who has held several world boxing titles.
Professional athletes and fighters also train regularly at Empire Boxing. Del Rosario says: "There are visiting professionals from boxing and MMA. We don't charge them. It's our way of giving back to them."
He adds: "There are a number of celebrities who train here. But we can't reveal their names. We give them privacy.
At Empire Boxing, men are the minority. This phenomenon challenges the stereotypical male-dominated population of gyms everywhere.
Del Rosario reveals: "65 per cent of our membership is female. We're very female friendly. Anyone can walk in. We have professional female fighters who train with us."
At 32, most boxers are at the tail end of their careers. But for Rob Del Rosario, his life at Empire Boxing is just beginning. Despite opening just last June 11, Empire Boxing has already discovered its identity.
Del Rosario shares: "We're the most friendly. We're sincerely and genuinely friendly. We're a big family, everyone here at the gym, trainers and members alike. Everyone's family at Empire Boxing."
Empire Boxing is located at Unit 5K OPL Building, C. Palanca corner Dela Rosa Sts. Legaspi Village, 1229 Makati. For inquiries, call (+63917) 809-8977 or email email@example.com. You can also visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/empireboxing.
This story first appeared in BusinessWorld High Life Magazine's August-September 2012 issue.