Welcome to a Special Edition of Contender of the Month – DOUBLE TROUBLE! During June and July, Gloria Kim and Fred Wong challenged each other to do as many classes as possible, and in total they did 162 classes. Fred took the lead with 86, and Gloria pulled off an amazing 76. Here’s what they had to say about their two month challenge, and their time at Contenders so far!
How long have you been boxing?
Gloria Kim: Since April 2017.
Fred Wong: I first started boxing in January when a co-worker finally broke me down after badgering me for a month to join him, so I’m about part-way through my fourth month of boxing now!
What made you decide to challenge Fred/Gloria to this two-month bonanza?
GK: I was looking for new ways to stay as motivated and committed to boxing as I was when I first joined – so, two months ago, I decided to work towards competing in my first match, and thought it would also be fun to challenge a friend to see who could go to more classes in two months (before challenging Fred, I thought going to 3-5 classes a week was a lot, hahaha, how wrong I was…). I’d heard of Fred’s notoriety for winning strange bets and competitions, so I figured he would be a worthy and willing opponent. I’m glad I was right!
FW: Gloria proposed this crazy idea to help me take my mind off some stuff going on in my personal life. Originally it was going to be a one-month contest but we decided to double up and make it a two-month bet just to make it worse for ourselves.
How did you manage to stay dedicated during this challenge?
GK: Fred and I are both extremely, irrationally competitive (which helps), but I think the only way a long challenge like this works is if both people are doing it for reasons that are bigger than simply winning/beating the other person, or something like weight loss. For me, it was to get into fighting-shape (so I can compete in my first match!) and curiosity to find out how strong my physical body actually is (answer: much stronger than I previously thought!)
FW: I’ve always known that I was really competitive, but this competition has brought out a completely different side of me. At the beginning, I was doing it more to win, but about halfway through, I started noticing significant weight loss and I was feeling a lot better about my fitness, so I pushed through to keep it up.
What was the biggest challenge in doing 800 classes a day (slight exaggeration…)?
GK: Definitely scheduling and laundry/shower logistics. We both work full-time, but I also commute to work and am a pupper-parent (“puppy-parent” for those unaware of young-people pet terminology) so it was tricky to coordinate everything. How do you feed/walk your pupper, make it to 6am class, and show up for work on time looking presentable and not gross/sweaty? Where do you put your sweaty gym clothes? How do you discreetly air out your gloves at work? These are all questions I had to answer. I’m grateful my coworkers think boxing is cool, and that I have support and family I could call on to help out with pupper-parenting when I needed it.
FW: I don’t drink coffee, so waking up at 4:45AM was a struggle. Things usually were the worst around 2PM but knowing that I’d be back at the gym at 4:30PM grinding through another 3 hours of class usually got me through.
Did you ever almost quit?
GK: I was stubbornly committed. Although I did get sick one week and trying to strategically plan out which classes to go to when I should have been resting did make me question my priorities… (I skipped one night of classes because #health)
FW: Surprisingly not! I stayed pretty committed throughout the bet and ignoring my week away in Whistler at tax camp, I averaged 12-15 classes a week!
Have your friends/family/coworkers/pets been supportive?
GK: I don’t know if supportive is the right word, but I think they’re amused and happy to see me happy and doing something I love. I’m thankful work is flexible and supports work-life balance. I’m also very fortunate my family love my pup and pup-sitting her, so I feel very lucky and appreciative to have that kind of support, and also to be surrounded by friends and family who love and accept me for the competitive weirdo I am.
FW: Most of their comments amounted to “Don’t die, you idiot”, so I guess that was supportive in a sense. This is quite literally the hardest I have ever worked for anything, and probably the first time I’ve done real exercise since high school P.E., so I don’t think people were really expecting much from me.
What made you want to join Contenders?
GK: I’ve always wanted to box and have gone to classes sporadically over the years, but I’ve also always had excuses like scheduling conflicts, or a commute. Then last spring, my dad died, and I knew I needed an outlet for everything I was feeling. I’ve heard people say boxing is form of therapy (just like running or other forms of exercise) and it’s definitely been true for me. Boxing at Contenders has been incredibly healing and therapeutic for me, and it’s what has helped me survive, and eventually thrive, through the year and the grief I was experiencing.
FW: When my co-worker, Jon, dragged me over in January, my thought was that I’d give boxing a shot! I was never that interested in boxing before but my thought was that going to class with a friend would keep me accountable and make sure that I’d actually do exercise for once.
How has your experience at Contenders been?
GK: In addition to the added confidence, and all the physical and emotional benefits, the coaches, community and people are the simply the best. To be honest, when I joined, it was purely for selfish reasons because all I was thinking about when I joined was my own pain. I was very angry and hardened at that time in my life. I wasn’t expecting to make friends at all, so I was surprised to be met with so much warmth and love and friendliness and to have so much fun in class. I’ve made so many friends since joining last year, and laughed and smiled more than I ever expected or thought I would when I joined. Everyone at Contenders is so genuine, friendly and welcoming, it’s really a testament to Kevin and Richard, and their values, and the culture at Contenders. I’ll always be grateful.
FW: It’s been amazing! The coaches and community are incredibly supportive, and they’ve made the experience so much fun. Practicing and going to class with people who’ve been boxing for anywhere from a week to ten years has been eye-opening, and makes me feel more confident about my own abilities and how far I’ve come in three/four months.
Which is (are) your favorite class(es) at Contenders, and what do you like about them?
GK: I absolutely love both Richard, and Yo’s conditioning classes. Richard’s Tuesday 5:30s are famous and definitely the best workouts I’ve ever had. Yo’s Thursday 5:30s are just as intense and always fun because she’ll incorporate things like Bosu balls. I also love the stretches Yo includes at the end of classes. I got to try Seb’s 4:30 sparring drills classes recently and those might be my new favorite class because it’s fun to practice sparring in a controlled environment.
FW: Morning classes can be a bit tough to wake up for sometimes, but the morning crew is fantastic and makes it all worth it. Richard’s 5:30 conditioning classes strike the fear of God into my heart, but fatigue measures effort, right? Plus, I gotta go to Richard’s classes… how else am I going to learn how to say ‘eight’ in Japanese?
What is your goal in boxing/fitness you are working to achieve?
GK: I want to compete in my first match this year, that would be very cool. I’ve also always wanted a six pack and to run a full marathon, so we’ll see which of the 3 come first.
FW: I don’t have any specific health and fitness goals, besides losing some weight and just being healthier. I lost 20 pounds in two months so that’s definitely progress! Besides that, I just started sparring, and I think I’m going to keep that up. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually compete at some point.
What is your weakness in boxing/fitness you would like to improve?
GK: Jabs and footwork always! Mastering the basics is so important and it’s humbling how much practice and skill go into something as simple as a properly timed and executed jab. Still working on it!
FW: I’ve got some pretty stiff legs/knees so I really need to make sure I focus on improving my mobility and flexibility, otherwise I’ll be a sitting duck in the ring. My core could use a lot of work too… Dimitri’s core exercises destroy me physically and emotionally.
What/who inspires you to continue training?
GK: Fred, 100%. His work ethic alone is already inspiring, but I’m even more amazed, humbled, and inspired by his persistence, dedication and sheer force of will in trying (and WINNING!!!!) a challenge like this over two months. Did you know he doesn’t work out, and never worked out before this? Did you know he woke up at 4:30am every day for two months to commute to Contenders and make it in time for 6am class, and then would do another 3 hours of class after work, and sometimes even class at lunch (5 classes a day!!!), while working an intense full-time corporate job? Who does that?!? Fred does. #fredspo
FW: Gloria, of course. She did the impossible and pushed me to do exercise, that thing I haven’t seriously done in over five years. She’s been so important to keeping me accountable. Besides Gloria, I think Daylan’s come a long way in the year he’s been boxing so if he’s where I can expect to be next year, then I’ll really be impressed with myself. Morning John (there’s like twenty Johns at Contenders) is also an inspiration for the sheer consistency and commitment he shows by going to pretty much every single 6AM class ever.
What is your advice for people who are thinking of joining Contenders?
GK: DO IT (and then try to beat our two-month class record)
FW: Just give it a shot! Don’t be scared if you can’t physically do everything they’re calling out. When I started, I couldn’t do a single push-up, and now, I can do like… three. As long as you’re pushing yourself to your limits, everyone’s incredibly supportive.
What is your occupation and what do you like to do in your free time other than boxing?
GK: I’m a Project Coordinator working in Provincial eHealth Projects for PHSA, and I love hanging out with my pupper, cooking and baking when I’m not boxing.
FW: I’m a tax accountant, focusing on sales tax, inbound Canadian investment, and working with charities and not for profits. Outside of work and boxing (which has probably been everything I’ve done outside of work for the past two months), I’m an avid board game fanatic, a home cook/baker, a halfway decent hiker, and a bit of a foodie.
If you have any comments you would like to share with others, please feel free to do so!
GK: Whoever is leaving gross comments on my personal Instagram, feel free to drop by open gym so we can work this out in person (in the ring) 🙂
FW: Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and give it your all! Boxing has been incredible for me and I don’t regret a thing.