#MondayMotivation: Persistence of Mind, Persistence of Body

How boxing reshaped one chef's life.

May 30, 2017 ● 2 min read

As told to Priya Krishna by Jimmy Bannos, Jr. | Images via iStock 

Four years ago, on a whim, while we were working out, my trainer said, “Let’s go fuck around upstairs in the boxing area.”

I've worked with the same trainer since high school. I’ve always been into fitness, whether it was football in high school or weight training when I was in my 20s. He showed me how to hit a speed bag, throw a proper punch—one thing led to another and I was addicted. Instead of boxing being a ten to fifteen-minute section of our workout, it became the whole workout. I went from having to hit the punching bag with my palm because I couldn’t get the rhythm right, to doing it with my eyes closed—just as fast as an amateur boxer.

Most workouts, you're exhausted after an hour, but nothing beat me down physically and was more intense and full-body than boxing. You go for thirty minutes and you are totally cashed, but you feel great. When you see that progression, and you feel the results, you want to keep going. So I did.  

As I’ve gotten older, boxing is what has kept me nimble. In your 20s, you are pretty active, but in your 30s, when you maybe start to hit your stride in your business, physical activity is the first thing that gets taken off the priority list. Boxing helps you keep up your fast twitch muscle activity. It works your core. It works your ass. It’s why you see guys walking down the street in their 60s who are in better shape than guys half their age.  

In the cooking profession, I am taking a physical pounding on a day-to-day basis. I need something to keep me going. I am not boxing because I want to fight people. It’s because there is no better feeling than when I am done with a boxing session. I feel like I am ready to conquer the day. I have more of a jump in my step. I am mentally and physically sharper at work. Everyone deals with stress differently: some people want to go have seven drinks at the end of the night, but I want to go box. The stress relief that comes from hitting a heavy bag is amazing.  

I have felt a huge difference in myself ever since I started boxing. I’m just quicker. If something is falling to the ground, be it a piece of paper or a bottle of olive oil, I am like PHOOM—there to pick it up before it falls. I can see it in the corner of my eye and react quickly. If I weren’t boxing I wouldn’t have those kinds of capabilities. It has made my brain so much sharper, it has given me more energy throughout the day, even when those days are long and grueling.

If I weren’t boxing, I’d be so burnt out. Boxing is what keeps me disciplined. It gives me the mental space to be the most creative person I can be at work.