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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Former St. Joe’s rugby teammates open boxing club

Lydon trains Katie Kerlin ’22 on April 23, at a park outside his house. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

As the coronavirus pandemic began to close gyms and other fitness centers last year, Matt Lydon ’21 and Sam Berman ’19, former teammates on the St. Joe’s men’s rugby team, saw an opportunity to give people an at-home alternative. 

The men’s usual gym, Manayunk Boxing Club, had closed due to the pandemic, leaving them with only one option, to train from their homes. To continue training, they began traveling back and forth between Berman’s home in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and Lydon’s home in Manayunk.

“Over time, we were basically like, ‘We should start something up because nothing else is open right now,’” Lydon said. “A lot of people were hitting us up to ask if they could train with us.”

Lydon and Berman decided they would enjoy working with other people, and could make money in the process. Both are passionate about fitness and have experience in boxing.

In February, they started “Yunk Fit Boxing Club.” Workouts are currently held in the basement of and outside the home that Lydon shares with his three roommates in Manayunk. Lydon said the two have recently been in contact with a gym in Manayunk about the possibility of moving operations there. 

Lydon and Berman have been boxing together for three years. During his junior year on the rugby team, Lydon suffered an injury that left him unable to play. However, he could still box. At that time, Berman was training for a professional fight, and Lydon joined that training to prepare for his own fights. 

“We were training three or four days a week together, and then a couple days just on our own running and stuff,” Lydon said. 

At Yunk Fit, Yunk being short for Manayunk, Lydon and Berman typically work on teaching boxing techniques such as footwork, punches, including hooks and uppercuts, dodge work, rope work, pad and heavy bag work. 

“A lot of my sessions I tailor to what you want,” Lydon said. “Most people who come to me just want to box, which is totally fine with me, but then I have a few people who want to box but also want to work on squatting or push-ups, so I’ll tailor that into the boxing workout.”

Each session is $20 for 45 minutes. 

For Katie Kerlin ’22, the price and catering to the individual are two aspects she enjoys.

“They tailor it to the person,” Kerlin said. “So I feel like that’s a good rate for personal training.”

Lydon said they have to figure out what works best for each person they train.

“I’ve done a ton of training in my life, whether it’s been rugby, boxing, running clubs,” Lydon said. “You have to realize you can’t train one person like you’re going to train another.” 

Lydon said it all comes down to understanding the dos and don’ts of people, as well as their limits. 

“The biggest challenge also is not working people too hard in their first session because then they won’t come back,” Lydon said. 

The club got off to a slow start.

“The first week we put out the schedule not one person signed up, and I was like, ‘Oh, God, here we go,’” Lydon said. 

But, with the help of friends and advertising on social media, Lydon and Berman were able to build a clientele that now includes an average of 10 people per week, consisting mostly of St. Joe’s students.

Lim Kamara ’20 and Abby Nolan ’22 heard about Yunk Fit from being friends with Lydon, as well as through the club’s Instagram account, @yunkfitboxingclub.

Nolan had no prior boxing experience but said that at Yunk Fit, she feels “way less intimidated” compared to going to a well-known boxing club or gym. 

“If you’re in Manayunk or a St. Joe’s student, it’s very convenient,” Kamara said. “I’d recommend them because they truly care about the person.”

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