Hard Nocks: It Will Knock You Out

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 schoolofhardknocks@gmail.com.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

Daily Fitness: Spar Boxing

(This article first appeared in the August 9, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Juan Carlos Mancilla is an East Hampton native who has been competing in the boxing ring for 11 years. In 2016, the 27-year-old won by TKO at the Paramount in Huntington, officially turning pro and inspiring his latest business venture. As the co-founder of Spar Boxing, which opened its doors this summer, he decided to open his Springs location, found at 514 Three Mile Harbor Hog Creek Road, with a “start small, aim big” mentality.

“As not just an instructor but a professional boxer I am able to bring something unique to the table that you can’t really get out here in The Hamptons,” Mancilla admitted.

“I introduce the public to the hard workouts we boxers have to endure to mold our bodies to be fight-ready as well as fun but effective workouts. So we decided to start out small then in a year or so get a bigger place after we’ve established our clientele.”

Upon arrival to this new location I was given a set of Spar hand wraps to keep (for future use, and to make me look totally badass) and a set of gloves to borrow. My morning class only had four early birds but the studio’s capacity is 14 to a class — sign up early to get a good spot.

After a quick stretch there were 10 boxing rounds on the aqua bags, followed by 10 rounds on a terra core, back and forth. The aqua bags (those teardrop-shaped bags hanging from above) are an innovative new technology for boxers that absorb impact much better than a traditional heavy bag, plus it’s better for the joints (for those with joint pain).

Throughout the rounds Mancilla demonstrated to the class how to properly punch, place their feet, and target their overall core and upper body as one. Having grown up with an affinity for kickboxing, I fell in love with the aqua bag. Not only did it have a trendier look (because that’s apparently a factor in my fitness routine) but it allowed for swifter movement around the bag and cleaner upper cuts.

The terra core was a full body exercise including jumps, lunges, squats, crunches, and push-ups. Aside from using individual body weight, the class incorporated two-pound light weights (this is for all, despite strength), medicine balls, elastic bands, and even lifting the terra core itself (also for all, despite strength). For additional cardio at the end of the class, we practiced high intensity interval training with a quick, powerful punches.

What made this class particularly enjoyable, besides the bag, the terra core, and the instructor, was the playlist. I didn’t want to stop moving. Men and women alike will mutually agree that the beats fuel the body. This is suiting, since the space at Spar has the look and vibe of an actual nightclub. Replace the stilettos with sneakers!

Mancilla noted, “As our building gives off a nightclub vibe with the dark room and different color lights, and top-of-the-line PA sound system, we will be having a few local DJs come in and spin some tracks as the class jams out to the music while burning a high calorie count. We hope to do it a few times this month.”

In addition to the boxing BPMs, every Tuesday Spar donates to Project Most by having kids from the camp come take a boxing class free of charge; a perfect combination of fitness and philanthropy.

By the end of the class I was revived and ready to take on my day. Fist in the air, sipping iced coffee from the other, I felt like a Total Knock Out!

Roll with the punches by signing up yourself at http://www.spar-boxing.com or email at spar.boxingeh@gmail.com. Follow them on Instagram @sparboxing.