Member of The Month

To make your pick for the next 'Member of the Month', email! Please include the first and last name of your candidate and reason for your selection, or how your pick inspires you!

November 2016

Our Member of The Month for November 2016 is Daniel Brown. Danny has been attending classes since January this year, and we’ve witnessed dramatic increases in his fitness and boxing abilities in the last 11 months. He is extremely friendly, approachable, and his helpful attitude is what earned him this recognition.

He had first heard about Contenders from his friend (and our ex-coach) Nikhilesh, and he says “I wanted to lose some weight, and I needed to do some exercise to get fit. The hardest part of boxing for me was getting motivated to come down every day – but oh man, I am so glad I did, because it is one of the best choices I ever made.”

He works construction, and describes himself as “a working, blue collar guy”. In his spare time he likes to play pool and chess, and hang around Commercial Drive with his friends. He says his favourite class is the 4:30 series- “I love the combinations and the movement; I love the way it gets me thinking, and makes me use my brain. My goal for the future is to start sparring, and then who knows, maybe I will eventually get to have a match if I feel I progress enough!”

October 2016

Our Member of The Month for October 2016 is Ed Chu. Ed became a member of Contenders when his friend Andrew convinced Ed to join with him. Since then he has been consistently training by attending 3 to 4 classes a week, and also brought some of his friends to join as well.

Ed’s favorite class at Contenders is the Conditioning Training Camp on Tuesday evening because he finds it very challenging. When we asked what he likes about doing boxing, and if there have been any positive changes he has seen in himself since he started boxing, Ed said “it's part of my zombie apocalypse training. If I need to kill zombies/steal from the weak I need to be ready. I feel I'm ready.” (which we took as “I have become fitter and stronger.” ) Ed says that his goal in boxing/fitness is to be able to do a handstand and walk on his hands, and his weakness he is working on to improve is his footwork.

His inspiration to keep training hard is his rivalry with his friend and also a member of Contenders, David Sikma (Member of The Month for May 2014). “I refuse to let him be fitter/stronger than me. Also, Wreck Beach. Gotta look good naked!”

Ed is a TV news writer/researcher. In his free time Ed enjoys eating Thai food. His favorite boxer is GGG.

As his advice for those who are thinking of joining Contenders, Ed says “DO IT! It's fun and challenging and you learn valuable punching skills!” He also says “everyone at Contenders is amazingly friendly and helpful and there are no meatheads among staff or members.”

September 2016

Our Member of The Month for September is Cathy Shih who has been coming to our classes in the evening about 4 times a week since the spring of 2013. Prior to joining Contenders Cathy learned some drills by watching Bas Rutten training video, but did not do actual boxing until she joined Contenders. She decided to join Contenders after one of her friends, Adrian, who was a member of Contenders suggested, and she did a 2-Week Trial. She says “all the instructors are knowledgeable and friendly, and the people in the class were super nice too. I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot”.

Cathy says that she likes all the classes at Contenders as she feels that they constantly help her push her limit, and she gets to learn different things in each class, but “Conditioning Class is my current favorite.”

As the advice for those who are new to Contenders, Cathy says “always try to push yourself. Every little improvement counts as long as you know you are better than yesterday.” As to what she likes to do in her free time other than boxing, Cathy says “eat eat eat eat and eat”.

We find that Cathy has become one of the “super nice” people in the class as well, and appreciate how friendly and encouraging she is to everybody, especially to newer members. Thank you Cathy & Keep up the great work!

August 2016

Our Member of The Month for August is Brian Martin who has been training at Contenders for the last two and a half years. Brian had never boxed before prior to joining Contenders, but decided to give it a try after hearing how good the workouts at Contenders are from Daryl and Dave who come to our noon classes and work with Brian who is an Associate Equity Analyst at Raymond James covering the minor sector.

Brian’s favorite class is the Core Training Camp on Tuesday. He also likes the Friday’s Core Training Camp as he finds it “a good way to end the work week”.

In his free time, Brian enjoys sailing, hockey, golf and hiking on the north shore mountains. He also enjoys spending time with his family and friends, and he says “good wine and food is also a guilty pleasure”.


July 2016

Our Member of The Month for July 2016 is Franco Perucho. Franco joined Contenders in June last year with a main goal of getting back in shape, and an interest in learning more about boxing. Since then with his hard work, humble attitude and willingness to learn, Franco has made a great progress in both his fitness and boxing. “I’ve fallen in love with boxing, and it has become less about staying fit and more about becoming a better boxer”, he says. His love for the sport is shown by the fact that he has brought some of his friends in for 2-Week Trials, and one of them has mentioned how Franco was enthusiastic about boxing, and encouraging him to try out the classes at Contenders.

Franco’s favorite class at Contenders is Boxing and Beginner Boxing Classes for the “good mix of technique and conditioning” they offer. As the positive changes he has seen in himself since he started boxing, he says “when I first started I was pretty nervous and didn’t know what to expect. As I continued to attend classes, I slowly built confidence and this increased confidence has positively affected other aspects of my life, forcing me to push myself both inside and outside of the gym.” He says that his goal is to get better at sparring, and “maybe fight one day”. Other than boxing, Franco enjoys playing basketball, listening to music, snowboarding and playing guitar in his free time.

As his advice for those who are thinking of starting boxing, he says “boxing can be an intimidating sport, so if you’re thinking of trying it out, feeling nervous is inevitable. I know I felt that way my first day in the gym. Luckily, the trainers at Contenders are so knowledgeable and they do a tremendous job of making you feel comfortable regardless of your skill level. Whether you’re hoping to get fit or to become a better fighter, just make sure you push and believe in yourself every class. One day you’ll notice how much progress you’ve made and that’s an incredible feeling.”

We are very proud of Franco for the hard work he has put into his training. Good work, Franco! You deserve this recognition!

June 2016

Our Member of The Month for June 2016 is Adam Kozachuk who has been training at Contenders for a year and half. He comes to different kinds of classes, which has helped him improve both his fitness and boxing.

Prior to joining Contenders, Adam had boxed in his hometown of Winnipeg. “I trained with a friend at the United Boxing Club who was also a member of the Canada's National Amateur Team. When I had moved to Vancouver, he had recommended that I check out a class at Contenders and I've been hooked ever since!”

Adam enjoys boxing because it helps him relieve stress. “I also enjoy the different techniques required to become great at boxing, which drives me to accomplish more.” His most favorite class at Contenders is Hand Pads Class with Kevin. “He's a great instructor. Gaining insight on his experiences as a seasoned boxer while working on new techniques keeps the class really exciting!

As to the positive changes he has experienced from doing boxing, Adam says that his core strength has definitely improved. “Boxing is such an intensive, full body workout, strengthening muscles that you don't normally get to train if you just lift weights or run. I've noticed a big change in my body - I can actually see my abs (I haven't had abs since I was 9 years old)!” His goal is to “never stop training”, and he would also like to start sparring more and gain more confidence in his boxing skills. When asked what inspires him to keep training and training hard, Adam said “At 6'4 and only 165 pounds in high school, I earned the nickname "Stretch". Since then, I've put on 40 pounds of "pure" muscle and no one has called me that name since.”

Adam is a Program Coordinator in the Meetings & Conventions Department at Tourism Vancouver. He also works part-time job at the Vancouver Canucks as a Premium Client Concierge. In his free time he enjoys playing basketball every Wednesday evening. He also enjoys the outdoors and hiking.

As his advice to those who are thinking of starting boxing, Adam says “it never gets easier! The more in shape you get the more intense you can work out!” Congratulation, Adam, for all the hard work you have put in the training and progress you have made. Keep up the great work!

May 2016

Our Member of The Month for May 2016 is Daniel Wexler who has been training at Contenders since February 2009. He won our award for Most Consistent Attendance in 2015 for attending a class every morning except for when he was sick or injured. We often tease him for his nonchalant personality, but we also notice that he knows when to step in to help out newer members and give them a word of encouragement.

Daniel’s favorite class at Contenders is Conditioning Training Camp for its challenging workouts and the boxing component in it. “I cannot keep it. It’s a good feeling (bring those back to mornings please).”

He says that his goal is to be fit so he could eat M&M’s and ice cream on the weekends. His weakness he is working on to improve is to keep his elbows down and relax his shoulders.

As to his inspiration to continue training and training harder, Daniel says “no need for outsourcing that one. It’s simple. If you can’t be yourself to do it, no one will, it’s only up to one person, you!”

His advice for those who are thinking of starting boxing, Daniel says “try, stay, enjoy, work hard and remember, it’s for you, not for others.”

Even though he does not like getting attentions, this month we would like to recognize his consistent and hard work for the last 7 years at Contenders. Congratulations, Daniel!


March 2016

Our Member of The Month for March 2016, Angela Winduss, has been training at Contenders for a little over a year. She comes to the gym regularly, and no matter which class she is taking, she gives her 100%. She started boxing when she moved to Vancouver from Melbourne, Australia. She was originally training at another club for a few months, but “wanted to be part of a club that took their training a little more seriously”, and decided to join Contenders based on the “reputation, reviews from members and also the variety and number of classes available”.

Angela likes doing boxing because it’s a tough sport and there is a lot to learn. Since she started boxing, she has noticed that her cardio, reflexes and coordination have improved. “It’s also very good for relieving a little bit of stress at the end of the day. I love the sound of my gloves popping against the hand pads, especially when it echoes across the gym. It’s probably one of my favourite sounds :)” Angela says that she likes to come in for training at least 4 days a week, and always does two classes in a row on Tuesday and Thursday. She also likes to stay for Open Gym to work on pads with Nik (and previously Max) as it allows her to work on specific technique that needs improvement, and it also gives her some one-on-one time with a trainer. Other than the Open Gym, Angela’s favorite classes are Conditioning Training Camp and Hand Pads Class. “After my mother died last year, coming into boxing was the only thing that kept my sane and got me out of the house. Boxing definitely helped me to get through a very dark period in my life.”

As to her goal in boxing, she says that she would like to get into sparring at some point, “but I might be getting kicked out of Canada very soon, so that might not happen until I move back to Australia. I’ve played competitive sport from a young age, so I’d definitely like to take boxing a little further.” As her weakness she is working on to improve, she says “Burpees!! Hahaha. Burpees and I are not friends. I’ve also been paying a lot more attention to my footwork, and taking an angle, which has definitely improved a lot over the last few months.”

Angela says that everyone at Contenders keeps her inspired to come in everyday and push herself further. “Sebastian has been particularly supportive from my first day at the club. I’ve also made some great friends at Contenders, and they’ll always ask where I was if I skipped a session.” Angela is an animator and currently working on a TV series called ‘Beat Bugs’ which will be on Netflix later this year. When she is not working or training at Contenders, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, watching movies and exploring the city.

To those who are thinking of starting boxing training, Angela says “Just try it! It’s challenging, and a lot of fun.”

February 2016

Our Member of The Month for February 2016 is Taeho Kim. Taeho has been boxing at Contenders for about a year. He found Contenders while researching online, and did a 2-Week Trial before he decided to keep boxing as a way to release the stress he was feeling at the time. Taeho is kind, humble and very dedicated to his training.

Taeho comes to the gym almost every evening, and usually takes more than one class a day. He says that he likes all classes offered at Contenders because each class works on different things, and he especially likes the fact that he can take as many classes as he wants with his membership, which allows him to learn more things quickly.

As to what he likes about doing boxing, Taeho says “as I do boxing more, I become more confident and get stronger mentally and physically. I used to have a little depression, but it is gone now. I am so happy now.”

Taeho has two goals; one is to lose weight down to around 180lbs (he is 6’3”) and to be in a good shape, and the second one is to compete in amateur boxing one day and become a champion. “I want to improve everything like sparring skills, my cardio and so on, but what I focus on now is to build a strong foundation of boxing by practicing the same things repeatedly.”

When he first started sparring, it was very clear that Taeho was very nervous. He says that he has not overcome the nervousness for sparring, but “I just do it even though my legs are shaking before I get in the ring. Now I have more confidence than I did before by sparring more.” We respect him for challenging himself by facing his fear and continuing sparring. Taeho is a cook (he says that he likes boxing more than cooking), and when he is not working or doing boxing, he enjoys watching Korean TV shows. As his advice to those who are thinking of boxing, Taeho says “just take a 2-Week Trial, and you will know what to do because there are great instructors at Contenders.”

November 2015


Our Member of The Month for November 2015 is Roy Abraham who has been training at Contenders for almost 3 years.

Roy started boxing to learn self-defense after being mugged while traveling in Peru in 2011. “I was actually looking for a Muay Thai gym when I moved to Vancouver but my ex-roommates convinced me to try Contenders, as they are members here.” Since then Roy has been regularly attending our classes 4 to 6 times a week on weekday evenings and Saturday morning, and recently added our 6AM and 7AM classes to his routine as well. He especially likes the 5:30PM Boxing Class on Friday for its mix of technical and cardio components, and the 10AM Circuit Training on Saturday as “it’s a great way to start the weekend”.

When asked what he likes about doing boxing, Roy says “you're learning a skill which improves your ability to defend yourself. It's also much more engaging and social than running on a treadmill or lifting weights. I also like punching a bag at the end of a stressful day!”

He says that his inspiration to train hard comes from within. “I was a fat kid and used to always blame my genetics. Finally in my later teenage years, I decided I was sick of it and made a commitment to do whatever it takes to be physically fit, while still enjoying food (and beer!)”

As to the positive changes he has seen in himself since he started boxing, he says “before I started boxing, I did weight-training, running, yoga and group fitness classes. So I've been fairly active for most of my adult life. What I did notice with boxing though is that it's helped me get to a higher level of fitness & well-being than I thought possible. I think this is partly because of the functional training of boxing classes and partly because the classes are so much fun & varied that it's easy to keep the momentum going. I'll be turning 40 later this year and I'm at the fitness level I was at when I was 30.”

In his free time, Roy enjoys visiting micro-breweries with his friends, taking salsa classes during winter/spring, and hiking in the summer.

As his advice to those who are thinking of starting boxing, Roy says “everyone here is super nice so there's nothing to be worried about. OK, maybe the only thing to be worried about is you'll get addicted to it!”


October 2015

 Member of The Month for October 2015 is Bryan Pulgar. He has been regularly attending 6AM and 7AM classes since he joined Contenders this July, and he has also started sparring recently. He says that he enjoys testing his progress in both technique and endurance in sparring, and challenging his fitness in the conditioning classes.

Bryan describes his first time sparring as “three rounds of exhaustion and adrenaline”, and he forgot most of the techniques when he stepped into the ring (like many of us did when we sparred for the very first time!). However, he finds that the feeling of giving it his absolute best every time he trains and spars is like nothing else, and that’s what he likes about doing boxing. He feels that his defense is his weakness, and has been working to improve catching, parrying and rolling while keeping his eyes on his opponent.

As his advice for the people who are thinking of joining Contenders, Bryan says “do some research and try it out - you never know until you try. It's a tough sport and I found it very intimidating walking in the first few times but everyone is willing to help!”

Bryan is a visual effect artist for movies. When he is not working or doing boxing, he enjoys playing video games and binge watching shows on Netflix. When you see Bryan at the gym, make sure to say hi to him!  

September 2015

Member of The Month for September 2015 is Helen Stortini. Despite the fact that she is 6 months pregnant and moving around is not as easy as it used to be, she still trains 3 times a week to stay in shape.

Prior to joining Contenders, Helen tried number of things to get in shape such as yoga, spin classes, and going to the gym, but none of them really stuck. It has been over a year and a half since Helen started boxing at Contenders, and it is clear that she is still very committed to the training, and willing to learn more and get better at it. “I have to be mentally present for the whole time that I’m doing boxing. I quickly learned if my mind starts to wander, there are consequences (at best, I screw up a combination, at worst, I get a smack to the face!) It forces me to be in the moment, which I both need and love. When I’ve done other exercise, I’m always looking at the clock wanting it to be over. With boxing, it’s the opposite—I look at the clock and am amazed by how quickly time has passed. I also love that I’m constantly learning. Each class there is something new to learn or figure out.”

Helen has seen herself improve both physically and mentally since she started boxing, and the physical and mental challenges she faces and overcomes are what she likes about doing boxing. “Within 6 months of starting, I lost almost 20 lbs. Of course, with the baby coming, that’s mostly been added back. But I still feel stronger and healthier than ever. Coming to Contenders has also allowed me to push past my own mental limits/barriers. At the start of this year, I began sparring. When I first joined Contenders, I never ever thought it was something I would do. The idea terrified me. But as I started to learn more technique, I was curious to give it a try. (Not that I ever seem to remember an ounce of that technique once I’m in the ring.) I was so scared the first time. My hands were shaking from the nerves. But I was blown away by how invigorated I felt afterwards—I had pushed past my fear and found something I loved doing.”

When asked how she has been keeping up with her workout routine during her pregnancy, Helen says “it’s been challenging at times—morning sickness doesn’t just happen in the mornings, but I found working out helps with the nausea and pregnancy fatigue. I always feel better afterwards. Everyone at Contenders has been so supportive. The encouragement has helped me keep going on days I felt like I wanted to stop.”

As her advice for those who are thinking of starting boxing, Helen says “do it! My first class, I was so nervous. I felt awkward and uncoordinated, but everyone was really patient as I fumbled through the punches. It definitely helped put me at ease. Now, I can’t imagine my life without boxing. I’m already trying to figure out child care after I have the baby so I can keep coming regularly. Coming to Contenders is really addictive and punching is crazy fun!”

Helen is the executive director of a charity that teaches kids about growing and cooking healthy food by putting chef volunteers into elementary schools. When she is not working or doing boxing, she enjoys downhill skiing, swimming, riding her bike around the city and travelling.

“I’m pretty inspired by all the staff and other members. I think the staff are incredibly talented instructors. And though there is a wide range of skill/fitness levels among the members--everyone is so encouraging and friendly. I’m always so grateful to the other members for their willingness to share what they know and help me improve.”

August 2015

Our Member of The Month for August 2015 is Sam Clarke who has been training at Contenders since this January. He is very respectful to other members, and always maintains a humble attitude. His willingness to learn and improve his boxing is shown in his daily training.

When he was younger, he played hockey and baseball; however he has not played team sports since he was 12 as he lost part of his left leg to cancer. Prior to starting boxing, Sam was into weight lifting for several years. Unfortunately he continued to injure himself and felt that he had plateaued. Around the same time, he got to know one of his co-workers, Tommy Grant, who was a member of Contenders. Tommy convinced Sam to come try out a class at Contenders, and since then Sam has been a very dedicated member of Contenders. “I have tried to get to the gym every day I can, with me even leaving work early just to train!” he says. He likes the high intensity aspect of boxing which he says teaches you how to be disciplined and committed. “Without being disciplined and committed, you won’t progress at anything in life. I’ve also met people from all around the world [through boxing], which is pretty cool!”

His favorite class at Contenders is the Sparring Class for the “competition and the rush of excitement” the sparring provides. “You have to utilize everything you've learned in other classes and have to be able to apply these concepts while another person is doing the exact same thing, exploiting your weaknesses and capitalizing on their strengths. It's also always humbling getting beat up by someone who is more skilled than yourself! (Keeps the ego in check.)”

His current goal is to improve his fundamentals as well as to get into better shape by working on cardio. He is hoping to compete in boxing in the future “even if it is just one match”.

As to those who inspire him to train harder, he lists several of his fellow members. “Syun and Francis inspire me because they're on a completely different level of boxing that I'll never get to, but still take time to help others at the gym and still remain very humble. Also, Danny, Nikilesh, and Din are inspiring because they're all very committed and have progressed immensely since I've gotten to know them. They all contribute to me wanting to train harder.”

Sam is a public accountant, working toward his professional designation (CPA). Other than when he is at the gym boxing, Sam does not have much free time due to his work and school work.

Sam encourages anybody who is thinking about starting boxing to go for it. “It is different than anything you've ever done and will help push you to your fullest potential both mentally and physically. It has been the best decision I've made in the last 10 years!”

July 2015

We were hoping to feature one of our former members, Charley Zhao, as our Member of The Month for July; however we were unable to get a hold of him unfortunately.

Charley joined Contenders in March 2014, and trained daily to get in shape as well as to improve his boxing. He came to the gym always with a very positive attitude, and put 100% effort into every single training session. He has made a lot of friends at the gym, and everybody liked him for his funny and kind personality. He used to tell us how happy he felt whenever he was at the gym, and Contenders was his favorite place to be at.

Charley has lost over 30lbs since he started boxing. This year he also tried sparring to put his skills into practice in the ring. We were proud to see Charley challenging himself and tackling any challenges to the best of his ability.

Charley had to move back to China in June for work. We miss him dearly, and we hope that he has found a boxing gym and he is keeping up his training.

June 2015: Shun Imuta

Our Member of The Month for June 2015 is Shun Imuta who has been training at Contenders since January this year. Even though it’s been only 5 months since Shun joined Contenders, his hard work and humble attitude has already left a big impression on us.

Shun is from Japan and moved to Vancouver last year. He recently graduated from a language school and plans to stay in Vancouver for 3 more months. When he was in Japan, Shun worked at an acute hospital for 4 years as a physical therapist, and loved his job very much.

Shun’s favorite class at Contenders is Circuit Training Camp which he describes as an extremely hard class but allows him to push himself to the best of his ability every minute. Also he likes that this class helps him strengthen his body with balance.

When we asked what he liked about boxing, Shun said “I love boxing. Boxing gives me a lot of opportunities to be not only strong, but also to be gentle-hearted. I have made a lot of friends through boxing. The more I continue boxing the more I deepen my experience.

Shun had done boxing for several years in Japan. We asked him what his training was like and how his gym in Japan and Contenders are different, and he said “I’ve been boxing since I was 18. It’s been 8 years now. When I was a professional boxer in Japan, I trained every single day while working. I’ve had six fights as a pro, which is 4(3KO) - 1-1. After retiring from professional boxing, I started teaching at a boxing gym twice a week. The method for conducting classes at Contenders is much different from the gym in Japan. Contenders has several instructors who lead us which means we inspire and encourage each other regardless of skill levels.”

Shun finds his defense to be the weakness in his boxing and would like to improve. “There are some boxers who are good at defense at Contenders. I’ve been learning the better defense from them through sparring. My defense has been getting better than it was before. Sparring is a good way to know what your weaknesses are.”

As to his goal, Shun is hoping to continue training boxing as long as he can and stay involved in boxing as a fighter, and hopefully as an instructor/physical therapist later on.“ I came to Vancouver because I would like to learn English and know different cultures. I have a dream, which is to be involved with athletes from other countries as a physical therapist. I would like to be a bridge between Japan and other countries.”

In his free time, Shun likes watching movies, going for a run and studying, but he also says “whenever I am awake, I think about boxing” which shows how much he loves boxing.

As to his fellow members, he feels that he is surrounded by nice people who support him. “When I first came here, many members talked to me and helped me a lot even though I couldn’t speak English. I’ve been really enjoying being here.”

For those who are interested in boxing, Shun says “if you’re interested in boxing, you should do it. Before I started boxing, I wasn’t confident with what I did. By continuing boxing, I have become confident.”

May 2015: Melissa Delamar

Member of The Month for May 2015 is Melissa Delamar who has been training at Contenders for two and a half years. We’ve noticed since early this year that Melissa has been working harder and trains a lot more often than she ever did before.

Melissa likes doing boxing because it’s fun and provides her with the opportunity to improve and learn. “I can feel myself getting stronger all the time, which motivates me to work even harder. Unlike an ordinary gym, I really look forward to coming to Contenders. It doesn't feel like a chore.” As the positive changes she has seen in herself since she started boxing, she says “I've gotten stronger and more confident, not just in boxing, but in other areas of my life too. Not only can I perform better in other physical activities, but a stronger core means I have better posture, which really helps me at work.”

Her favorite classes at Contenders are the Upper Body Training Camp on Wednesday for which she says “I feel great after this class, a little like I've had my butt kicked, but also just strong and ready to take on the world.” as well as more technical and advance-level Boxing Class on Friday which she says always gives her good challenges and helps her learn new skills.

Melissa’s goal is to get into shape and to be strong and healthy. “In 2015 I've been pushing myself much harder, and the supportive staff at Contenders make it easy.”

Even when she is not at the gym doing boxing, Melissa stays active by biking around the Seawall in the nice weather and playing ultimate Frisbee. She also enjoys helping build large scale art projects for Burning Man, and helping with festival theme camps. “This year some friends and I are doing a nautical themed camp for Burn in the Forest. It will involve building a few small structures, and some fundraising to make it all happen. I also love to hula hoop. I am constantly learning new tricks and one day would like to fire hoop. I love bike riding, going for picnics, hanging out with friends and bumming around on the beach.”

As her advice for those who want to try boxing, Melissa says “don't allow yourself to be intimidated. I remember what it felt like to be a beginner at boxing. There are a number of members at Contenders that really know what they're doing, and it can be a bit daunting. The same people can also be extremely helpful when you're unsure, and can be a source of inspiration. Work past the awkward/clumsy stage. It's so worth it.”

April 2015: Richard Lawrence

Member of The Month for this month is Richard Lawrence who has been training boxing since Contenders opened at this location. Since then Richard has gone through 3 pairs of gloves one of which is yellow color and gave him his nicknames, Bumblebee and Buttercup.

Richard had attended morning and noon classes all along, then switched to just morning classes when he retired. Now he attends all 6AM and 7AM classes. He finds that the hardest part of the morning classes, besides the burpees, is getting up and getting to the gym “especially on those cold dark mornings”. However, he likes the facts that for morning classes, he doesn’t need to deal with traffic (and he gets free parking!), and he has a smaller dedicated and enthusiastic group of people to work out with.

When we asked what he likes about doing boxing, Richard said “boxing training for me, presents a constant opportunity for learning and improving, not simply that respect there are always areas to work on. I've also like the feeling of working to exhaustion when I’m training (not sure if that is strange or not).”

As to his goals and things he is working on to improve, he said “Conditioning Training Camps continue to be very challenging, and are a constant reminder of how much I need to work on my cardio. I have a few specific goals I remind myself of every now and then, like getting under two minutes on the [10 sets of] staircase run, chin-ups, keeping up with Caitlin (who also comes to all the morning classes), getting at least one good shot in on Roland every morning...things like that.”
One of his fond memories at Contenders is when he did a White Collar Fight Night 7 with a very short notice. “It seemed like a good idea at the time… with no real time to get in shape or better shape, it proved to be quite the adrenaline rush. It put all my training and conditioning into perspective and....I won (subsequently retired undefeated!) so in retrospect that was a really good experience although my fight name (Buttercup) seems to have stuck with me and I might have chosen something more menacing had I known that!”

Richard hints his age by saying “I qualify for a seniors discount, I have been competing in Hockey in the BC seniors games for several years, and my kids are older than most of those at Contenders (or at least those who come to the morning classes.)”

After boxing, Richard plays hockey three mornings a week, and hikes with his chocolate Lab, Dodger, every day. In summer time, he takes time off from training and move to the interior to work on his log home which is nearing completion.

As his advice to those who are new to boxing, Richard says “I like to encourage those new to boxing training to work hard at it... it will not get easier, but you will improve, and you will really push yourself harder on a regular basis. There really is no easy way around. It’s a tough workout every day and that's what most of us have come to respect and why we keep coming back.”

March 2015: Valeriya Bogdasheva

Our Member of The Month for March 2015 is Valeriya Bogdasheva. Valerie joined Contenders in May 2014. Until then, she had tried many different things to keep herself active and stay in shape, including taking group fitness classes, doing Karate, and working out on her own at gyms, but yoga was the only thing she was able to stick to. When her co-worker told her about boxing, she was not sure what to expect, but she felt that she needed to give it a try. She cancelled her yoga membership when her 2-Week Trial at Contenders ended because “I’ve found the place where I can relax and work hard at the same time. I enjoyed the workouts, and felt great afterwards, but I had to push myself to get there. Now it’s different. I don’t care if I had a long day and 5 hours of sleep. I wake up happy and excited to go to the class at 6AM.”

Valerie enjoys boxing because “it provokes a lot of discipline. I associate boxing with life in general. You are the only person who is responsible for your win or your loss. And stepping back doesn't mean losing (Thank you Sebastian!:)”

When asked which classes at Contenders she enjoys the most, she said “I tried them all and I love them all, but my favorites are beginners sparring on Fridays and Saturday training camp. Sparring is the best way to learn boxing. After only 3 rounds you are energized for the whole week, you work harder on your technique, speed and strength. I feel like every Friday class is my mid-term exam, to show how much I achieved in the past week.”

Valerie’s original goal was to get in shape, but she says she has gotten much more from doing boxing. “I got confident. I remember my first months when I couldn't do 5 push ups. Now I want to be stronger than I was yesterday. A part of my New Years resolution was to start sparring, and only half a year ago I couldn't imagine myself in the ring. Now I want to fight.”

When she is not boxing, she enjoys doing yoga, snowboarding, traveling, trekking and photography.

As her advice for those who are thinking of starting boxing, she says “Just go for it! Give it a try and you will instantly fall in love with boxing.”

“Last year I signed for a half marathon. I did it only to push myself into running. I had 6 months to train. Guess how many runs I went for? TWO! I absolutely hated it. My cardio was terrible. I joined contenders in May, and the run was in August. And I did it. I was running and enjoying it. I truly believe that it all was possible only because of you guys. Thank you all!!”


February 2015: Alon Mizrahi

Member of The Month for February is Alon Mizrahi who has been training at Contenders for 2 years. Alon comes regularly to our noon classes, and sometimes to our evening classes which has made him an all-around boxer with great fitness and good understanding of boxing basics.

Alon’s favorite classes are Tuesday Core Training and Wednesday Upper Body Training. He also enjoys Boxing Class on Friday evening, for which he says “I look forward to it all week. It is fun to put some of the skills you learn in other classes in action and punch your good friends in the face at the same time.”

Alon joined Contenders because he always wanted to learn a physical sport. And since he started boxing, he finds that his physical conditioning has increased significantly. He was also surprised at how much boxing increased his mental stamina. “The classes really push you to realize that what you perceive as your physical limitations are not necessarily so and that you can always find more to give. The classes are never static and the challenge is always there. I also have to say that the instructors really make the experience more enjoyable. Their passion for boxing always shows.”

Alon’s goal is to come to as many classes as his schedule allows for, and to improve his footwork and sparring skills. He says that legs have been the least favorite muscle groups to exercise, and as his new year’s resolution, he is trying to change that by coming to the Monday Lower Body Training.

When asked who inspires him to train hard, Alon’s answer was Trevor Linden (and Sebastian!). “There are several people who inspire me to train over the years. However, I do not believe I have admired any athlete more than Trevor Linden. I know he was not much of fighter in the game of hockey, but his work ethic, commitment to exercise, and over health is top notch.”

Alon works as a lawyer, and also dedicates his spare time working on a charity project he is a part of which seeks to increase exposure to the practice of law for high school students who live in neighborhoods that are traditionally underrepresented in law.

Prior to joining Contenders, Alon played tennis, surfed occasionally, ran half-marathons, and weight lifted routinely. However, since he joined Contenders, he stopped all these exercises “because I found that nothing I did equaled the kind of workout I got at the club.” In his free time, Alon enjoys “cooking, drinking craft brews with pals, and spending time with my lady and our Boston terrier”.

As his advice to those who are thinking of starting boxing, Alon says “do it! I tell all my friends how rewarding the experience at Contenders is. I have convinced a few of them to join. The staff are all great people who want to see you succeed. They will take t