Bouncing back at Boxing914

In addition to boxing, Belmars offers classes in kickboxing, Muay Thai, zumba, circuit training, yoga and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as personal training and a weight-loss program. Photograph by Danielle Renda.
After a break from the gym, Danielle Renda rekindles her exercise flame with a beginner’s boxing class.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first boxing experience.

Actually, for days following the beginner’s class at Boxing914 in White Plains, it was all I could think of, especially after each step — particularly those involving stairs — and every shoulder movement.

Admittedly, this was partially my own doing.

In the spirit of summertime, I parted ways with the gym in exchange for traveling, relaxing and, of course, indulging in delectable food. And I knew that my three-month flight from fitness was coming to a reluctant close.

Boxing914 was the reality check that I needed.

Much to my relief, the ambience of the gym calmed most of my pre-workout nerves. The décor, which follows a patriotic color motif, includes hand-painted murals that integrate motivational quotes. As a lover of literature, I was particularly captivated by the wall alongside the boxing ring, which quotes Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “Twelfth Night”:   “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

I felt even more comfortable after seeing the guests, who represented all demographics — men and women, older adults and children, of all body types and skill levels. Though if I had any reservations left about the workout, they certainly disappeared when I met Peter Belmar, the owner of Belmars, the home of Boxing914.

The walls of the gym are adorned with inspirational quotes. Photograph by Danielle Renda.

Belmar’s résumé is more than impressive. Originally from England, he is an ex-amateur boxer, a winner of the Ringside World Championships and an international boxing instructor — as well as a practitioner of kickboxing and Muay Thai — with more than 33 years of experience. I was confident that I was in good (strong) hands. With a smile from ear to ear, Belmar gave me a tour of the gym, his enthusiasm lighting every step of the way. His love for the sport is contagious, and I was gratefully receptive as he guided me through the class as my partner. 

Coach Toni Mafes, a boxing instructor with more than 15 years experience, led that class with a firm approach. To increase our blood flow, we began with intervals of jumping rope (one minute), followed by 30-seconds of burpees (squat thrusts), push-ups and sit-ups. Then we put on our gloves and transitioned to boxing. 

Mafes demonstrated the stance, which required placing the weight on the balls of the feet for swift movement. Then she explained how to perform a jab, a punch and a hook, after which we practiced the moves (on pads) with a partner. 

I struggled through some of the intervals, prematurely exhausted from my extended break from exercise. But Belmar’s words of encouragement and patience carried me along.

We ended the class with a floor exercise, which required sit-ups that were followed by four punches, which were done once in the seated position.  

When the class ended, I welcomed the rest, but I was filled with accomplishment from finishing the full hour. I questioned my stamina throughout, concerned over whether I was ready to handle an intense workout so soon. But thanks to Belmar (and Belmars), I successfully pulled through — and I’m ready to rekindle my exercise regime.   

In addition to boxing, Belmars offers classes in kickboxing, Muay Thai, zumba, circuit training, yoga and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as personal training and a weight-loss program. Beginning Oct. 17, Belmars will also offer Rock Steady Boxing, a program for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Belmars is at 5 Prospect Ave. in White Plains. For more, visit

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