Don’t Tell These Women They Hit Like a Girl

North boxing gym the first in New England to train female boxers

NORTH ATTLEBORO – Hitting like a girl isn’t such a bad thing- just ask the women who regularly work out at Striking Beauties.

With pink walls, hangers bearing baby doll T-shirts, pink boxing gloves and a children’s play area, it’s pretty clear that Striking Beauties at 18 Church St. is not a stereotypical boxing gym.

It is the first in New England designed to cater to women.

“Women could easily be intimidated by walking into a boxing gym and seeing big, tough men pounding on the bag. I wanted to offer something softer, more feminine where real training in boxing could be offered in a less intimidating environment,” said Dena Paolino, president of Striking Beauties. “The classes are fun and the girls really encourage and support each other.”

Paolino, a practicing attorney, drew on her love for the sport when deciding to strike out with the new business venture. She opened the gym in June after receiving encouragement and financial backing from her brother-in-law Frank Sarcia.

“I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for a few months, and I have to say the quality of women I’ve met have been just amazing.

“They’ve really provided me with so much inspiration. We have moms with young kids to young single triathalon runners. Women who are 100 pounds overweight and women who are fit and athletic.”

Paolino said the idea behind the gym is to offer a boxing workout in a relaxing atmosphere. While men are allowed if sponsored by a female member, most of the clientele is female.

“There are all kinds of women here,” she said. “You don’t have to be a particular nationality and you don’t have to be a particular weight. You don’t have to be a brute and you don’t have to be a fit Barbie doll type.

“The majority of the people who come in haven’t ever boxed before.”

Classes are based on the regimens used by the facility’s trainers, including Jaime “The Hurricane” Clampitt, a four-time world champion professional female boxer, and Kali Reis, a professional boxer.

The introductory classes focus on conditioning and learning the basics, while more advanced classes offer women a chance to spar with each other.

“I’ve re-created my pre-fight training and have designed a 90-minute program that is a challenging workout for women in of all ages,” Clampitt wrote in an explanation of the workout program. “It’s a workout that will knock anyone into shape.”

In addition to classes, there are heavy bags, speed bags, circuit equipment, free weights and cardio machines, which are available 24 hours a day in some of the membership packages.

Family memberships come with boxing classes for children, and the gym holds family fun nights every week that allow children and their parents to work out together.

Paolino said she believes interest in boxing will only grow, especially now that women will be boxing for the first time in Olympic game history in 2012.

She has an aggressive expansion plan – hoping to open a similar facilities in Providence and Boston. After that, she hopes to begin franchising.

“Boxing is the number one calorie burning exercise there is, and it’s so empowering,” she said.

“It’s amazing to see how bodies transform. You really notice it in the hips because that’s where the power for your punches is coming from.”

“You walk out of here feeling so strong and self-confident- you really walk differently.”

Anyone interested in checking out the facility can attend the Women’s Day Open house 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 12. It will feature boxing and kickboxing demonstrations, beauty treatments and children’s activities.

Women are also invited to participate in free self-defense classes on Wednesdays from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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