By Tom Schreck
Boxing gyms don’t conjure up the image of inclusion and nurturing. When you watch Rocky train at his South Philadelphia gym it is dark, loud and filled with angry, sweaty men. Despite the cliché, some young people supported by Wildwood have found a home, a new activity and lots of friends in the welcoming environment of Schott’s Boxing in Albany.
For years the Young Adult Program has offered a physical education elective in boxing called, “The Undisputed Champions.” Recently, DSP Nick Congemie of the Without Walls day program began to offer boxing as a fitness elective as well. This has inspired participants to branch out and attend Schott’s Boxing on Saturdays. The 11:00 am class usually has about 25 participants and several Wildwood staff members and Undisputed Champions volunteers are there. I attend to offer some minimal guidance for people who want to get a workout.
The boxing class is non-contact and you exercise at your own pace. Everyone working out; men, women, teenagers, seniors; enthusiastically encourages each other. The workout is 10, three-minute rounds spaced with a minute rest. Coaches hold mitts and call out combinations, challenging athletes’ coordination and stamina. When the bell sounds, fist bumps, high fives and yells of encouragement fill the gym. You don’t have to have any expertise, you only have to have a modest amount of conditioning and the classes are tailored so everyone can do the drills and have fun. No one gets hit, no one “loses” or gets “defeated.” Everyone wins against the opponent within themselves who challenges them to keep going.
On any given Saturday it is great to see so many from the Wildwood family; staff, people receiving supports and volunteers. If anyone would like to find out more, come participate or just watch, please feel free to contact me. Right now the gym is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they will be back. The gym is located in Albany on Vatrano Road, about two miles from Colonie Center and a class costs $15.