by Chelsea Hutchings
Muhammad Ali’s famous “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” boast perfectly captures the magic happening daily at Dena Paolino’s Striking Beauties boxing gyms.
During a typical Sunday morning class at Striking Beauties, “I’ve Got the Power” was pumping from the speakers. Between the music, the impeccable facilities and diversity of the gym’s welcoming members. anyone would feel immediately energized.
Currently, Striking Beauties has three locations in southeastern Massachusetts: 18 Church Street in North Attleboro, 75 Ferry Street in Fall River and 294 Winthrop Street in Taunton.
Rhode Islanders should keep their gloves up. their chins down and their eyes open: Paolino hopes to open more locations in the future, especially in her home state.
A Rhode Island “native, Paolino opened her first gym on the East Side of Providence in November 2010. The gym was a great success but Paolino and her team quickly outgrew that space.
Enlivened by pink and black walls, Striking Beauties” North Attleboro location boasts a full-size professional boxing ring along with cardio equipment, a variety of fitness balls and plenty of punching bags. Striking Beauties is not just a boxing gym, though. Along the bottom of the front mirrors is a barre (a stationary handrail that provides support during various types of exercise allowing excellent drills for core work). There are plenty of other interesting props available for switching up your workout and challenging yourself.
On the back walls are two canvas images of Muhammad Ali and Audrey Hepburn, perfectly marrying the two main missions of Striking Beauties — epic strength and genuine beauty.
Paolino created the innovative concept of a women-centered boxing gym back in 2009, but the idea dates back nearly two decades prior. A criminal defense attorney by vocation, she was working as a clerk for the Supreme Court in the early ‘90s when she began searching for a place to work out. Instantly attracted by the major calorie burning (up to 800 calories in a single session), mental release and full body conditioning benefits of boxing, Paolino started working with world-renowned trainers and Rhode Island natives Dennis Passaretti and Peter Manfredo Sr. Over 20 years later, Manfredo Sr. is now the Director of Boxing and Training at Striking Beauties.
In addition to boxing as her main workout, Paolino competed and won her first amateur boxing match just a few years back. She recalls it as “one of the most incredible moments of her life.” The sense of accomplishment that accompanies the sport of boxing is particularly fulfilling, especially for women. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until 2012 that women were allowed to box in the Olympics despite a strong interest by women around the world.
What makes Striking Beauties different from other boxing gyms is certainly the diversity and camaraderie that exists among the membership. On that typical Sunday morning, the women (and a couple of men, who are welcome, as well) ranged from their early 20s to early 70s. The woman in her 70s kept up effortlessly – she’s certainly an inspiration. Even more inspiring, the members have developed meaningful relationships which extend beyond the time spent at the gym.
Benefits are also illustrated by client testimonials. Bryce McGillivray, a competitor in the Miss Rhode Island Pageant and one of Paolino’s clients, found the boxing workout with her brother’s help. In the two months before the pageant, she was trying to drop weight. Soon after she began working out at Manfredo Sr.’s gym in Narragansett and with Dena’s training, she lost 20 pounds and redefined her body. Aside from the visible results, her workout buddies at Manfredo Sr.’s in Narragansett have become a second family and it has inspired her to become more engaged in boxing. She also works as a fashion blogger and her expertise has been instrumental in creating a social media presence for Striking Beauties.
Watching the workout, it is simple to understand how the exercise translates to fantastic results. The classes are all led by professional and amateur boxing trainers who are able to assist with form, offer positive reinforcement and suggest modifications if necessary. In any given class, members perform a variety of exercises including jumping rope, burpees, squats, lunges, sit-ups and, naturally, plenty of bag work.
The North Attleboro and Fall River locations are accessible to female members 24-7 with a swipe card. The Taunton and Fall River locations were opened by professional women who were originally members at the North Attleboro location. All locations offer classes for children starting at five. Child care is also available.
Boxing at Striking Beauties is a workout no woman should miss out on. For more information, following Striking Beauties on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook or visit StrikingBeauties.com.