Frankie Diaz, general manager of Title Boxing club, demonstrates his technique on the heavy bag. Photo by Pat Evans
Frankie Diaz was so excited to hit a heavy bag again, he wore himself out.
After the 15-minute warm-up period during a sample Title Boxing Club workout in Ann Arbor, the personal trainer and former boxer had little energy left.
Diaz was sold on the idea behind the national fitness franchise that uses total body boxing and kickboxing techniques to burn calories.
Diaz is now the general manager of Title Boxing Club in Kentwood, 4585 28th St. SE, which is owned by John Carter and Mike Puckett from Indianapolis.
Carter’s daughter had been an employee of Diaz’s and forwarded information about him to her father. The two men met and hit it off as Carter learned of Diaz’s desire to run his own gym.
“He told me to research it a bit, and I found a corporate store in Ann Arbor,” Diaz said. “So we sent them an email and set up a discovery day.”
In Ann Arbor, Diaz, Carter and Puckett went through a three-day workshop to learn about the franchise and its marketing and then took part in various fitness classes — which is when Diaz wore himself out.
“We walked away feeling great, knowing it was something we wanted to do,” Diaz said.
The trio then investigated the various franchise territories available. Indianapolis, the hometown of Carter and Puckett, was saturated, but Lansing and Grand Rapids were open.
Diaz pushed the pair to look at Grand Rapids.
“It’s a huge market,” Diaz said. “And it’s a boxing town.”
The owners signed on, and the club opened Aug. 10 with two nearly sold-out Power Hour classes.
Title Boxing Club isn’t a standard boxing gym — there’s no roped ring in sight.
“Most clubs, they put you in head gear, throw you in the ring, and you get hit as you learn to duck, throw jabs and learn the hard way,” Diaz said.
“Here, you get a lot of structure and you learn the fundamentals without getting hit. The more you do, the better you get.”
With 54 heavy bags hanging from a rack in the middle of the room, music blaring and plenty of fitness and weightlifting equipment, the facility feels more like a workout room than a boxing gym. Diaz said he pushed for a boxing ring, but they opted to fit in more heavy bags, allowing for more clients in a class.
“We’re known for classes,” he said. “We sacrificed the ring for the bags because we don’t want to turn people away. If we fill up the 54 bags, I’m a happy general manager.”
He said the first month has been full of curious people stopping in to see what it’s like. Title Boxing Club offers the first class free, and Diaz said that helps get people hooked.
He said entire families come into the gym, with the range of ages anywhere from 8 years old to 60 and older. The range of ages shows the scope of the dedication of people who are trying to better themselves, he said.
“We’re all on a journey to be a healthier version of ourselves,” Diaz said. “We provide a fun way to do that.
“I’ve been a personal trainer for years, and people just need a little bit of motivation and structure to really get at it.”
Structure helps alleviate the stress some people feel when thinking about their workouts. Diaz said people spend enough time stressing about their everyday lives, their jobs and so forth, and to have a workout all laid out for them is optimal.
“Here you can just zone out when it’s you and the heavy bag,” he said. “Sometimes, it just feels good to hit the bag.”
In addition to individual clients, Diaz said he hopes to reach out to more businesses in hopes of bringing them in during the hours between scheduled classes.
He said the club also has plans to host events benefiting nonprofits. It will host an anti-bullying event Sept. 19 and hopes to do some events benefitting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. For those events, Diaz said the cost will be $10 a bag, with the proceeds going to the organizations.
Memberships can vary from single-location, month-to-month plans starting at $89, to the Title Card, which grants access to the nationwide network of 155 Title Boxing Clubs.
In Michigan, there are currently Title Boxing Clubs in Farmington, Brighton and Canton, with planned locations in Royal Oak and Novi.
He said within the first month of being open, the club has hosted a bachelorette party, and his mother soon will bring a group of teachers from her school to take a Power Hour class.
“Until you put on the gloves and go through it, you don’t know,” he said. “You have to get the experience and then it sells itself.
“You can run for miles and miles, but in this you get what you put into it.”