Boxing was a saving grace for Kwame Ritter, who as a teen prone to fighting, discovered the sport and with it, his destiny.
The Oakland Mills High School graduate ditched community college for a professional boxing career (he’s fought in the Baltimore Boxing Renaissance most recently) and formally started his Columbia gym, Elite Shared Fitness Network, three years ago.
And now Ritter’s cardio take on boxing is helping Howard County residents fight off the pounds.
“It’s not very ‘aerobic-y;’ it’s not very choreographed,” says Ritter. “We work the whole body. With punches, we fuse in strength training, cardio [exercises] and sprints. You’ll feel like you’re going through a 12-ring fight.”
The cardio-focused style is a dynamic workout fit for all levels. It differs from traditional boxing by focusing less on technique and more on exercise.
Ritter changes up the moves often, “so it’s a different workout every time,” he says.
Some of those cardio-heavy exercises include the widely dreaded burpees. But don’t worry — Ritter and the Elite team understand how brutal the squat-plank-jump move can be.
“We have a T-shirt about that. It says ‘buck furpees.’ And if you write it out and switch it around…” says Ritter, laughing.
He says cardio boxing yields major results fast because “we work on getting [your moves] up to a certain speed and maintaining your heart rate there, like if you were in a fight.”
All that rapid punching, jumping and kicking, combined with staying at a certain pace for nearly an hour, is designed to shed pounds and boost heart health at a breakneck speed.
Area social worker Gary Parker has been with the Elite since it began and says he’s gone from a size 38 waist to a size 32. He attends cardio boxing classes five days a week.
“[Cardio boxing] gives you a confidence,” Parker says, explaining how the benefits of the workout have seeped into other areas of his life. “It helps prepare me for what I do each day.”
Class participants enjoy the security the exercise gives them. After mastering the punches, kicks and posture, “you feel like you’re able to protect yourself,” says Baltimore City behavioral therapist Shey Inmon, who joined Elite in February. The New York City native says she has lost 37 pounds since then.
At Elite, Ritter says, “we try to tell everybody that there’s nothing pretty about hard work.”
In other words, be prepared to sweat.