Photographs by Julie Bidwell
Above: Jonathan Edmond and Jim Perry offer clients the one-two punch of fitness and self-confidence.
Marla Martello always wanted to box but never felt comfortable walking into a traditional gym. Then Belly and Body opened in Old Greenwich, and her workout was forever changed. She’s there three times a week, working on strength, coordination and stamina and says that in all her years of exercising, she has never found anything that has worked as well or that she enjoys as much. That’s exactly what co-owners Jonathan Edmond and Jim Perry want to hear.
“It’s upbeat, you can go at your own pace, and there really is nothing to be afraid of or intimidated about,” Marla says. “It’s hard. I couldn’t wait for my first class to end. I also decided I was never coming back. But I did. And then I did again. And now I am hooked.”
The space is sleek and bright, with the bright red boxing bags adding a dynamic pop of color to the dominant shades of gray, cream and metallic. Edmond chose all the equipment, while designers Kay Story and Diane Viton selected the right color tones and accoutrements to create an almost spa-like environment.
Classes are forty-five minutes, beginning with fifteen minutes of cardio (skipping rope, sprinting, speed ladder work, swinging kettlebells); fifteen minutes of boxing; and fifteen minutes of cool down (stretching on a yoga mat or barre or working with small weights). “I am not going to lie: It’s really tough,” Edmond says. “But it’s a nice challenge. I tailor the warm-up to complement the boxing, working all the muscle groups but not fatiguing the muscles with too many repetitions.”
Class size is capped at ten. “I want to check that everyone is doing each exercise the right way and moving with weight correctly,” Edmond says. Sessions are $38 each, although there are packages to bring costs down and a three-month membership that allows participants to sign up for classes a month in advance.
Edmond, a National Strength and Conditioning Association-certified personal trainer, has been teaching martial arts and physical fitness in Greenwich for more than a decade. He was Perry’s personal trainer, although their relationship quickly morphed into a friendship, and now, a business partnership.
Perry is also a “customer”—working out here three times a week. “It is different from anything I have ever done before, a total body workout that hits my legs, core and upper body,” he says. “At my age [fifty-two], I am really starting to feel the exercise I have done all my life in my knees. But I leave here without any aches and pains.”
Yet for Perry, it’s about more than exercise. “It’s a great way to learn self-defense and relieve stress and tension,” he says. “Honestly, there is nothing better than hitting a punching bag.”
IS IT FOR ME?
Edmond says anyone can learn to box and it’s never too late to learn. His youngest client is fifteen; his oldest, just south of seventy. About 80 percent of his clients are women.
Many of his clients have special needs, including one with cerebral palsy. Since Edmond is a personal trainer, he designs programs to meet individual requirements.
Boxing is a complex sport that is so much more than simply hitting a bag. The repetitions become meditative. It’s hard to think of your to-do list when you are concentrating so hard on one thing. Edmond says you’ll also:
1 Learn to breathe deeply (a requirement for landing a proper punch)
2 Improve your balance and coordination (especially important as you age)
3 Increase strength
4 Build awareness and self-confidence
5 Develop rhythm and timing
6 Relieve stress and tension
7 Learn self-defense
Belly and Body
1381 E. Putnam Ave., Old Greenwich, 203-637-3399 bellyandbody.com