The first rule of fight night is … You don’t talk about fight night. But if you’re tough enough to make it through Liberty HaganaH’s boxing class, you’ll want to tell everyone.
Held three times weekly at PurEnergy in Paoli, the hour-long session begins with a primer on proper stance and punching techniques. Then comes jogging in place, jumping jacks, SEAL jacks, squats, planks and shadow boxing. And that’s just the warm-up.
A bulk of the class focuses on battle-ready kickboxing designed for military personnel. “Our system is a combination of Krav Maga techniques with elements from the LOTAR school, Lochama Ze-ira, Ma’aracha Bein Milchamot and Hisardut,” says Victor Castro, Liberty HaganaH’s chief instructor and president, who served as an officer in the U.S. Marines.
That may sound intimidating, but Castro doesn’t overwhelm students with the edgier details. He’s more about getting everyone moving. For 30 minutes, we throw jabs, crosses, hooks, upper cuts, elbows, kicks and knees. “That half hour consists of eight to 10 rounds of intense drills designed to increase physical stamina while building a boxing skill set,” Castro says.
Each round ends with five to 10 burpees. “These are short, intense intervals with strength and cardio components,” says Castro. “The goal is to maximize the mechanical capabilities of your body.”
The final 10-15 minutes of class are spent punching heavy bags. Castro’s favorite finale is alternating between 30 seconds of speed punching and 30 seconds of power punching. Sometimes, he’ll mix in extra core work, circuits or sprints.
Liberty HaganaH also has the Alpha-Bravo workout, a grueling mix of heavy bag punching and core exercises led by Dave Schickman. Even seasoned attendees are challenged by the fitness insanity he unleashes. But no one gets left behind—every class is available to people of all ages and fitness levels.
There’s also the optional one-hour class on HaganaH, a hand-to-hand fighting system based on tactics used by Israeli military forces. Self-defense is the backbone of HaganaH, as students learn how to fend off attackers in a variety of situations. The class is led by Castro (a fourth-degree black belt in HaganaH), Schickman (a first-degree black belt) or another highly trained instructor. “If you had to fight for your life, this is the class you want to take,” says Castro. “Protecting yourself and your loved one is always your first priority.”
If you go to either class, wear regular workout gear and bring plenty of water. You can borrow boxing gloves and hand liners at no extra charge. After a few sessions, most people buy gloves and hand wraps. “The focus is not on body building or coming away with six-pack abs, although you will realize those types of results,” Castro says. “We strive for increased stamina and the ability to command your body.”
Slow but steady progress is the goal. Hence the motto that ends every Liberty HaganaH class: Stronger every day.