Regular workout routines aren’t for everyone. Elliptical machines, treadmills and Thighmasters all offer a great way to break a sweat and burn calories, but these humdrum forms of cardio can be a bit blase. Fad workouts offer an alternative from the regular, but once the hype of these new workouts begins to wear off, participation dwindles and the calories start to creep back.
There is, however, one workout that has withstood the test of time. Requiring little equipment, boxing is a great way to get in shape. However, up until recently, unless you aspired to fight in the ring, finding local places to practice your jab and grab were few and far between — especially for women.
Pink Gloves Boxing is a ladies only boxing program that advocates self-confidence through a combination of total body training, fun, community and achievement. The concept for Pink Gloves Boxing started in Montana in 2006 after personal trainer Garret Garrels realized the positive impact a workout like boxing can provide women — not just physically, but emotionally, too.
After implementing boxing into his own personal training routines, Garrels developed Pink Gloves Boxing as a way to teach other fitness instructors how to offer this women-focused boxing program in their own gyms. Pink Gloves Boxing groups quickly started to spring up in cities across the country, but it was college campuses in particular where Pink Gloves really took hold.
In college, Michelle O’Brien, a Wisconsin-native, decided to turn her passion for fitness into a career. It was at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, where Michelle was first introduced to Pink Gloves. She was instantly inspired to become a trainer.
After teaching Pink Gloves in Bozeman, Michelle took a “break” to spend some time playing rugby in Ireland. The impressive athlete earned a sponsorship that allowed her to play abroad.
Rugby is a big passion of Michelle’s, and one of the reasons she decided to relocate to the Pacific Northwest. “There are a lot of options for reffing rugby in Washington, Oregon and California,” she says.
After deciding to move to Washington in 2013, Michelle was passionate about bringing Pink Gloves with her. “When I moved here, I made a point of bringing Pink Gloves with me,” she says. “It has such a positive impact.”
And as the only Pink Gloves certified trainer in the state outside of Washington State University, Michelle is glad she did.
Michelle’s classes meet twice a week at two locations in Pierce County — the STAR Center in Tacoma and Better Gym in Gig Harbor. Offering participants a seven-tiered training program, similar to martial arts, Pink Gloves provides women the opportunity to learn boxing techniques, master those techniques, and advance to the next level.
Michelle says she limits her Pink Gloves classes to around 10 people per class so that she can provide individual support to each participant. “It’s personalized for each person,” Michelle says. “I have tier level one and three in the same class, but I’m not going to give them the same workouts.”
Personalized training isn’t the only benefit to having small group sizes. Michelle says it also inspires a sense of community, which is important for building emotional strength. “Pink Gloves is a very safe environment,” she says.
Michelle incorporates everything from punches and push-ups to lunges and crawls into her circuit training, but she says boxing isn’t just about getting fit. It’s about getting strong, both physically and emotionally. As each woman advances to the next tier, Michelle says they walk away with a sense of accomplishment — and they have the swag to prove it. “You earn new equipment each time you tier out,” Michelle says. For example, women can advance from black wraps to pink wraps, black gloves to pink gloves, and so on.
When Michelle was still training in Bozeman, she says she trained a woman who was initially reluctant to start the program. “She didn’t think she could do it,” Michelle says. “She ended up earning Pink Gloves, but she’s never used them — she keeps them in a glass case in her house.” This kind of pride is common among Pink Gloves participants.
And accomplishments like this are what inspires Michelle to train. But she says her favorite part about Pink Gloves is that it doesn’t feel like fitness. “You’re learning a new skill; a new sport,” she says. “It takes practice, but it’s rewarding.”
Interested in trying Pink Gloves Boxing firsthand? Enrollment at the STAR Center is currently open, and classes at Better Gym begin later this fall. Contact Michelle via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Pink Gloves Boxing Gig Harbor/Tacoma’s Facebook page to learn more.