We tried it: Boxing at Joltin’ Jabs

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Joey DeMalavez, a former boxer who runs Joltin' Jabs in Manyunk, leads Philly.com's health editor, Kelly O'Shea, through an intense boxing workout. (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

When I walked into Joltin’ Jabs studio and saw former boxer Joey DeMalavez going at it on the heavy bag while he waited for me to show, I knew I was in for a tough workout.

Before I even had time to really introduce myself, Joey had me down on the floor doing the longest set of crunches I think I’ve ever done — upper abs, lower abs, planks, side planks — and right into a couple sets of push-ups.

Then came the strange part. As part of my warm-up, Joey led me around the heavy bags for a few circuits of animal movements — bear crawls, crab crawls, gorilla walks. “It’s all about natural strength, you’re using your whole body weight to shock your body with these awesome movements,” said DeMalavez.

Now I was officially warmed up and ready to get the gloves on. Since I was new to boxing (and by new, I mean most of my boxing knowledge came from Rocky I - V), Joey took me through the elements of a proper punch and also really stressed the importance of shifting your body weight and using your hips to rotate through your punch — which in turn, gives boxers like Joey those killer abs! I also learned how to defend myself with a little bob-and-weave action as I covered and ducked from Joey's punches.

“Jotlin’” Joe has trained some big personalities, including 6ABC personalities Cecily Tynan, Adam Joseph and Ali Gorman, as well as athletes from the Eagles, Flyers and Sixers.

After a little shadow boxing to get myself comfortable with the movements, we got into the boxing training circuit. I threw combinations of punches at the heavy bag for a timed 3-minute round. Jab. Jab, cross. Jab, cross, hook. Jab, cross, uppercut. And then I followed that up with another 3-minute round on the uppercut bag. I'm actually sweating just thinking about it!

With every punch you’re moving — there’s nothing static about boxing. You’re moving towards your opponent, or you’re pivoting to get a good uppercut in with your right, and you're constantly bending your knees and making sure you’re drawing your power from your legs.

“Throughout the whole workout, you’re conditioning all your muscles, head to toe,” DeMalavez explained. "Every exercise that I do goes along with the boxing circuit — getting you strong, shifting your weight, making sure you’re on the balls of you feet.”

We went straight from the bags to standing on a tire, where Joey gave me punch combinations to throw at him. When you’re on the tire, you’re actively shifting your weight from foot to foot with every punch, making each punch more powerful. For the next 3 minutes, we did 30-second rounds on the tire and then off — and every time I stepped off the tire, I could feel punches landing just a little bit harder than last time.

The one thing I definitely didn’t expect was how much concentration the boxing circuit would require. Every time I let my mind relax a little bit, I would throw the wrong punch sequence — which subsequently kept Joey on his toes since he was defending himself from my punches, but hey that was part of the fun!

To wrap up my workout, in true Rocky fashion, we finished with a 3-minute circuit of jump rope, plus some mountain climbers and ab work. 

“Everyone tries to emulate this boxing workout, like kickboxing and LA boxing, but boxing is old school, it’s authentic and it’s one of the best workouts there is to get you toned,” said DeMalavez. 

For me, the best part about training with Joey is that he understands the importance of motivation. When I got tired, it was easy to push myself with Joey in my ear cheering me on to pound the bag a little harder or get in one more rep. 

Oh and did I mention Joey doesn’t do breaks? We went for 45 minutes straight and by the end of our session I was so sweaty I could barely keep my hands from slipping on the hardwood floor in our final round of planks. Yeah, that’s how intense this was! 

So if you're looking to switch up your workout routine, boxing at Joltin' Jabs is guaranteed to get your heart rate going no matter what your fitness level! Joey does personal training as well as group classes, which he maxes out at 10 to make sure you’re still getting some personal instruction.

Joltin’ Jabs 4303 Main Street in Manayunk, 215-482-4802.


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