Volume 17 • Issue 36 | February 4 - 10, 2005

Practicing the sweet science near the W.T.C.

Downtown Express photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio
Patty Hughes, 40, pounds the heavy bag at Trinity Boxing Club.

By Zachary Roy

Images of boxing gyms have been seared onto the American consciousness by Hollywood: dark masculine domains, with bloodstained floors, an omnipresent stench and crotchety old men barking orders. On the surface, Martin Snow blends seamlessly into that scene. With his 6-foot-4-inch, broad-shouldered frame and mammoth paws, the Brooklyn native and Fordham alumnus does not look like someone you want to cross.

But appearances can be deceiving. Snow, 45, is in fact one of Downtown’s most popular entrepreneurs, befriended by everyone from gritty firefighters to glamorous supermodels. His new gym, Trinity Boxing Club, breaks the mold of traditional boxing gyms, catering to new groups of boxers, particularly young businessmen and women who seek a new alternative to their old exercise routine.

“Old boxing gyms weren’t the most pleasant places,” Snow explained. “There was one shower. If you were lucky there wasn’t a cockroach in there taking a shower with you. It would get hot as hell in the summer, and cold in the winter. But here we keep the showers clean and our facilities are comfortable. Everything you get in a health club, we give you here.”

Almost everything. Trinity may have clean, new facilities, but it would never be mistaken for one of New York’s generic and trendy health club chains. It has a look all of its own.

The gym’s ground-floor location at 110 Greenwich St., two blocks south of the World Trade Center site, previously housed one of those generic health clubs. Snow knew that remodeling was a must if his dream was to take flight.

To ensure that the gym captured the nostalgia of the neighborhood gyms he grew up with in Brooklyn during the 1960s and ’70s, he enlisted the help of his childhood friend, Ron Darcy, who is an expert in such projects. The goal: Build a place that combined the convenience and cleanliness of a health club with the authenticity of a boxing gym, or, as Snow calls it, a “boxing health club.”

Darcy’s crew set to work. Sheet rock walls were ripped out, leaving the original brick exposed. A wood deck was installed with cozy couches and sleeping space for Snow’s two dogs, Brando and Cheyenne. Fake rust was added for sentimental character, but the rings, bags, weights and other equipment that fill the space are up to date.

Perhaps the gym’s most unique feature is the full-sized windows that run the length of the storefront. In the warm months, Trinity opens out onto the sidewalk like a Greenwich Village café, attracting curious tourists and potential boxers alike.

“I had been walking back and forth in front of the club watching people do it, and it occurred to me that it would probably be a good workout,” said Gina Sullivan, 36, a massage therapist, who started at Trinity in September.

It was indeed “a good workout.” Sullivan now arranges her day around her three-hour, midday training sessions.

Nearly one-third of Trinity’s members are women. Jody King, 31, a member since the gym opened in May, says it is easier to be consistent with the boxing workout because she has a routine, but she is constantly pushed by herself and the gym’s expert trainers.

The gym’s female members, like most of its male members, are “recreational boxers,” who do not fight for money or accolades, but for mental and physical fitness. Instead, men and women alike compete in events like the “fat pool” – a contest to see which member can lose the biggest percentage of body fat in a month.

Patrice Mizeski, 39, is a data monitor in an office near Battery Park. She started working out at Trinity in October after growing bored with all of her previous exercise regimens. Five months later, she gets to her job early and leaves late, just so she can squeeze in her lunch-hour training session. But it’s worth it.

“This is a better outlet for stress and anger,” said Mizeski, who has noticed a marked improvement in her performance at work since she began boxing. “I have better concentration and focus. I feel better about myself, so I guess it projects.”

Snow, a decorated amateur boxer before a rib injury cut his career short, began training fighters at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn in 1991 for $10 an hour. Over the years he developed a client base at various gyms and studios, slowly pushing boxing onto the landscape of popular fitness routines. Now private lessons will cost you $90 an hour (group sessions are less expensive).

Snow still trains a few professional and amateur fighters, which he says keep the gym authentic and the trainers sharp. But he specializes in introducing new boxers to the sport.

“Martin is a great trainer,” said Sue Costello, a comedienne who has been a regular at Trinity since March. “He pays a lot of attention to you when you come in here so you can really figure out what you’re doing.”

The entertainment industry has taken note of the growing interest in boxing among young businesspeople – a coveted demographic for advertisers. Actors and models are not strangers at Trinity’s, including Tyra Banks and the models on her TV show, “America’s Next Top Model.” NBC is featuring the gym on the reality show, “The Contender” with Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard.

Business is good, but there are challenges. Snow acknowledges that professional boxing has given the sport a black eye. But he is passionate about its ability to improve the personal and professional lives of recreational boxers.

“People don’t pay money to learn how to throw a left hook. People pay money to be healthy and gain confidence. I get people here who never think that they’d like boxing, but they do the workout and they get hooked,” he said. “Boxing is right on the cusp of taking off, like yoga has. It was almost a fad (in 1991), no one knew how long it would actually last.”

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