Growing up, my professional athletic aspirations in high school were equally divided between becoming a Rip Curl-sponsored surfer or a kick boxer — both of which never came to fruition, of course. The latter came after I joined a local gym where amateur boxers trained. Two of them taught women’s kickboxing lessons. Before and after my hour-long class, I’d sit around the boxing ring and watch the men spar. I became enamored, not by their physiques, but by the intense power and strength that was displayed.
During the three years of my membership at that gym, I went, on average, three times a week all 52 weeks of the year. I couldn’t get enough. Then college came along, and both my surfboard and boxing gloves began to collect dust.
That’s why meeting Jeff Nockelin of the School of Hard Nocks in Greenport was a welcome challenge after all of these years. I arrived at his boxing studio to a scene right out of Rocky (which happens to be both of our favorite boxing movie), with basic workout gear in the front and a full-size boxing ring in the back, and padded flooring between. It was nothing fancy but everything that was necessary.
Nockelin, an amateur fighter, who turned down two offers to go pro and once worked with three-time World Champion Greg Haugen, was exactly what I’d expect: an intimidating and beastly boxer’s build and an old-school, rough-around-the-edges, but friendly personality. The visual definition of what you’d want in a trainer.
Knowing my prior training, he gave me an extended 45-minute session spanning boxing, core, cardio, and resistance training — or what he calls Super High Intensity Training — to get “Fighter Fit.”
Basic dumbbell lifts, planks, and sit-ups were incorporated between the more difficult versa climber (like a StairMaster on steroids) and prowler push sled (like running on steroids) with hard beats playing in the background for motivation. To work out my back, Nockelin instructed me through a more primal exercise, sledgehammering a tire. Once the adrenaline kicked in, I was unstoppable: swing, hit, jump, switch; swing, hit, jump, switch. By the end of my reps I had nearly passed out.
Then I was led into the ring — “Eye of The Tiger” playing in my head — where Nockelin handed me gloves and guided me through several choreographed boxing movements. Jab, cross, hook, uppercut, duck, and weave, all around the ring. Small motions, fast repetition, little rest times in between, burning fat while building lean muscle.
Nockelin got into boxing after training with his older cousin as a teenager, and has stayed true to it ever since. “I’ve spent a lot of years and have been through a lot of experiences putting my workouts together. I really have a passion for what I do because I’ve seen in myself and in my clients the benefits and great quality of life that comes from it,” he said. “I sculpt people’s bodies to look amazing and work even better.”
By the end of it all, I nearly threw up from pushing myself so hard. As truly exhausting as it was, I felt stronger physically and mentally. It was a feeling I had almost forgotten but deeply missed, the feeling of being an empowered badass.
Sessions are 30 minutes each at $40 a session. Since each session is guaranteed to knock you out, Nockelin recommends going with the 30 minutes before requesting a full hour.
The School of Hard Nocks is located at 74365 Main Road in Greenport, in the back, left corner. It is open Monday through Saturday by appointment only. Visit theschoolofhardnocks.com, call 631-873-9875, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here