In the Foster Room of the New Balance Student Recreation Center, a group of women convene twice a week and ceremoniously wrap their hands in black and pink strips of fabric. These women, who range from University of Maine students to community members, are brought together by the Pink Gloves Boxing class.
Pink Gloves Boxing (PGB) is a program that not only teaches boxing skills and techniques, but also hopes to foster meaningful connections and an empowering atmosphere for women. Through its no-direct-contact training, PGB offers an alternative way to work out for women who want to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Elisabeth Waugh, a fourth-year student studying mechanical engineering, is a PGB instructor who is passionate about her role in the program. Her journey with PGB began two years ago, when a friend invited her to join the class. She attributes a lot of personal growth to PGB, and hopes to give new members a similar experience.
“PGB is not just about physical strength, it also helps with mental strength as well as self confidence. When you start, at tier one, over time you feel your punches get stronger. Over the course of the semester, we spend a lot of time bonding and many of the girls end up really opening up about themselves and their lives,” Waugh said. “Having tier one and tier two girls in the same class allows a lot of growth because tier one gets to see where they are headed and get excited, and tier two gets to help push and encouraged those in tier one.”
Each class is broken up into six sections. The classes begin with a meet and greet where participants set up, check in with each other and talk about what to expect that day. Then they do warm-ups, and move on to shadowboxing. The women split into two groups, tiers one and two, and the instructors lead them through the punches and combos that they are in the process of learning.
Next they do two conditioning rounds, where they visit five stations for around two minutes each. The stations include: total body, shadowboxing, footwork, bags and the prize fight.
Total body consists of creature crawls and bodyweight exercises. Shadowboxing is where members will practice their punches in the mirror, focusing on their form. Footwork helps them keep practice speed and coordination through using a speed ladder or jump ropes. At the bags they can practice the combos of the day. The prize fight includes one on one time with the instructors hitting the mitts to practice combos and work on burnouts.
Once they have completed conditioning, the women circle up in the middle of the room and do core exercises together. The members have to come up with a core exercise individually and explain it to the class. To finish, they stretch and have a guided conversation. The PGB program supplies a group question for each class, as well as some inspirational quotes and lessons.
At the end of each semester, members have a showcase day where they can exhibit their learned skills and celebrate their accomplishments. They also have the opportunity to test into the next tier, which for many means earning their pink wraps.
Paige Mitchell, director of the Writing Center and a Ph.D. student at UMaine, believes that Pink Gloves Boxing enables her to enjoy work and play at UMaine. In addition to the benefits participating brings her, she has also been able to include her daughter, Lilly, in the process.
“I love bringing her to classes with me. Sometimes she will cheer us on, or bring us waters,” Mitchell said. “I saw signs for the class around the gym, and thought boxing would be a fun and interesting way to exercise. I didn’t realize that it would help me develop a community of women who care for each other and are all about empowerment. This class has made me feel kinder and more confident. I love exposing my daughter to that.”
There are three different PGB classes offered each week, which meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m., as well as Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The class costs $75 for New Balance Student Recreation Center members, and $115 for non-members. There is a one-time equipment fee of $50 for the starter kit, which includes wraps, gloves, a manual and a bag. Contact Caitlin Caserta, assistant director of fitness, for more information on getting involved.