Located at 2241 Valor Drive, Winchester (VA), Winchester Boxing & Fitness officially opened its doors in June 2016, and has since grown in just about every way possible.
Owner/trainers John Custer and Mike Doleman have designed and developed a fitness experience that combines total-body workouts with boxing—comprising group classes, personalized programs, personal training, and boxing education—from absolute beginner to advanced (i.e., becoming a member of the Winchester Boxing team).
Basically, if you want to get the type of workout that you’ll be telling your friends and family about—no matter your age, athletic ability, body type, or fitness level—you’ll want to seriously consider Winchester Boxing & Fitness. And if you or someone you know is seriously interested in exploring boxing as a sport, they’ve got you covered.
“The big thing was that Mike and I wanted to get out of the commercial, franchise gyms,” said Custer. “You take both of our ten or more years of experience and bring the boxing into it, the sports conditioning and personal training, and make it a business model—we wanted to provide that to people of all ages.”
Fight-sports gyms have grown popular around the country in the last decade, but Custer saw an opportunity for something unique in Winchester. “This style of training has really taken off, but there still wasn’t really anything of this make and model in the area. We wanted to steer away from the whole Title Boxing and UFC Gym models, which has begun to saturate cities and adjacent suburbs.”
The biggest early challenge, he added, was simply finding a home for the idea. “Finding an area with enough foot traffic, an open shell of a facility to start with and build out, and parking—instead of trying to start from scratch. That was the biggest challenge. But we were able to find this complex and it really fit our needs—especially in Winchester—to be close to pretty much everything.”
Doleman saw an opportunity to customize what he deemed an antiquated model. “Primarily, the industry is kind of monotonous—you walk into a gym, pay a membership fee, and then you’re on your own,” he noted. “My idea was to simply hold people accountable and get results. The main thing here is results—it’s what drives the punch-fit and life-fit classes. It’s about people coming in and handing over the reins to us and putting in the work once that class starts—for an hour—and going home and seeing incredible results.”
In addition to building out this customized brand of total-body fitness, the endeavor has also allowed Doleman to pursue a personal goal and lifelong passion. “Basically, I wanted to introduce people to boxing as fitness, and then if some of them were interested in pursuing actual boxing, that opportunity is here too,” he said. “We have classes on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays, and not only is it one of the most incredible workouts you’ll ever get, it builds confidence, we promote anti-bullying, and the sense of community and comradery is really immeasurable.”
The Winchester Boxing Team emerged not long after the doors opened in 2016. “I always wanted to run a team out of here,” said Doleman (himself a registered amateur boxer), “and we’ve built up a nice group so far—all ages, sizes, and walks of life. I’ve got big plans for it—extra divisions, a women’s team. We currently consist of eight amateur boxers that are registered with USA Boxing, and the gym is also registered with USA boxing. The town was missing this. There are MMA gyms popping up, etc., but we wanted to take the next step and grow boxing in Winchester.”
Currently boasting 72 members, as well as another 30 one-on-ones, a few different group packages, a power-lifting team, and even yoga twice a week, Winchester Boxing & Fitness has grown impressively since opening its doors—to the extent that Custer is already excited about a new location.
“As of right now, the drawings are done for the building, and we’re waiting for the completion of the interior drawings,” he indicated. “We’re looking at three acres in south Winchester—right on the corner of [Route] 522 and I-81 … right off the highway. We’re looking at almost twelve thousand square feet—we’ll have turf, gym flooring, all the fitness and boxing infrastructure we have here, and more, but we also want to put a permanent boxing ring in the facility and start having shows.
“Another differentiator will be that instead of kids day care, the new facility will have kids fitness. I’m working on some of those details now with local universities to see about bringing in staff for that. We’ve also got some really great cardio and fitness packages planned—some really unique classes and opportunities.”
Custer is even in discussions with manufacturers to bring in Ninja Warrior and Cross-Fit equipment. “This next version of the gym will be a total one-stop shop,” he affirmed.
Doleman sees the future as an extension of an already-successful model. “People come in here and they want to be pushed,” he said. “You’ve got a coach here, a motivation and support group. We learn to speak your language—whatever your goal is—we’ll meet it. Adults, high-schoolers, kids: we literally have a system in place here that benefits absolutely everyone. We take all the thinking out of the equation—all you have to do is show up. After more than ten years in gyms for both John and I, we wanted to create something special here, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Find out about classes and how to join by clicking on the above links for both the website and Facebook pages.