Box2Fit gym — and its community — is expanding.
The Cloverdale gym is unique for many reasons; the Reporter has written articles previously on its programming for people with Parkinson’s disease.
It stands out now for another reason as well. A newly opened expansion means that the gym is available around the clock, 24 hours a day. To the knowledge of gym owner Frankie LaSasso, it is the only 24-hour boxing gym in the area.
With a monthly pass, boxers can come in on their time to work through a 12-round routine.
Classes, of course, will still run in the adjacent room during the day.
Although the gym has changed, the core of what it does remains the same.
“Boxing is therapy for everybody, whether you’re here to get in shape, or relieve stress,” said LaSasso.
On top of the physical benefits, boxing provides a cognitive workout as well. “You’re challenging your balance. You’re remembering combinations. You’re always thinking of the next step — what are we doing next, what combination are we throwing next.”
The mix of physical and mental benefits is one of the reasons that the sport is so beneficial for people with Parkinson’s, he said.
“I think it’s the greatest workout in the world,” he said.
The sport also provides essential social connections. It helps draw people of all ages out of their shells, improves confidence, provides a way for parents to bond with their kids, and gives those who may be isolated a community.
“We have quite a few parents with their children working out together. It’s a great, true way for families to bond,” said LaSasso.
“You’re partnering up with your child and you’re motivating each other through a workout that at the end is not only good for self-defence but also benefits health and confidence.”
LaSasso would know, as he grew up boxing, and his own daughter, Esmeralda, boxes and teaches classes alongside him.
When the Reporter dropped by ahead of the 24-hour gym’s opening on July 2, the Friday evening class was full of athletes ranging in age from 11 to 60.
For one young boxer in particular, Box2Fit has become a home away from home.
Aneil Dhaliwal, 18, has been boxing at the Cloverdale gym for a year. He has a rare chromosomal disorder, Koolen-de Vries Syndrome, that is characterized by developmental delays.
“He’s always happy. He always comes here with a big smile. Very positive,” said La Sasso. “His mom and dad tried to get him into other sports . . but it didn’t work out for him.”
At LaSasso’s gym, however, Aneil found a home.
“He really wanted to do boxing,” said Aneil’s mom, Jasmin. “We tried a lot of different locations. Coaches were all about the money, or all about competitions. It wasn’t about Aneil. It wasn’t about the individual person.”
The Dhaliwal family, who live in Sullivan, found LaSasso’s gym a year ago.
“We came here and the first thing Frankie said to Aneil was, ‘Once you walk in here, walk into this ring, you’re already a champion,’” she said. “That word — saying you are a champion — went right to his brain. [Now] he comes here almost five days a week.”
“He feels that this is a family to him. This place is just amazing. To us, it’s a lifesaver. Because it doesn’t matter that he has all these disabilities . . . everybody makes him feel welcome.”
Aneil has tried to get involved in the community in different ways since he graduated from Semiahmoo Secondary’s BASES program a year ago, but he hasn’t been able to find a job or a volunteer opportunity that’s the right fit.
Boxing is what keeps him going every day.
Aneil has a surgery scheduled in late August, and will be away from the gym for some time while he recovers. But he’s sure to be welcomed back with open arms.
His favourite part of boxing, he told the Reporter, was “the speed” — the fast-paced nature of the combinations and the workout itself.
If you ask after an aspect of the sport, he’ll let you know he loves it. Working on the bag? He loves it. The ring? He loves getting in.
LaSasso is a good coach, and “a cool guy,” he said, and his daughter Esmeralda is an excellent leader as well.
To learn more about Box2Fit’s programs or 24-hour gym, call 778-384-6284, go to box2fit.com, or drop by the gym in Cloverdale, located at #306 – 17750 65A Ave.