Fitness: Boxing with Lev Jackson

Canadian featherweight champion Lev Jackson on the benefits of fighting trim

It began innocently. While a teen, Lev Jackson became interested in fitness to help with his Crohn’s disease. A love of the sweet science moved him into the ring. “I’d never been that fit, but boxing fitness will prepare you for any sport better than any other cross-training.” Diligence paid off: he’s the World Boxing Council Canadian champ, featherweight division, and a coach at the ill-starred Eastside Boxing Club, which burned down last November – – the morning Jackson had a match. The club will secure a new location, but one consequence was immediate: Jackson lost his shot at the B.C. belt that day to Francis Codilla. “I went five rounds, but I couldn’t get the smell of smoke out of my equipment. He had a good day, but I’ll be looking to rectify it.”Jackson believes the sport can benefit anyone. The East Side Boxing Club runs a program for the area’s at-risk youth (“It’s not just boxing. We’re all laughing”) and supports Aprons for Gloves, a set of friendly matches for city chefs, one of whom, he says, dropped 56 pounds in three months, but more importantly: “He started out kind of quiet, shy. But he’s gained so much confidence. He smiles. He glows.”PRO TIPSGo old-schoolUse leather medicine balls for core exercises like sit-ups and partner drills.Find your centre Ask a partner to give you taps against the stomach to prepare you for punches. At the end of your workout do three three-minute rounds of jump rope to loosen up.Get cracking Start your day with a good breakfast of oatmeal or two eggs and toast. If you do start fighting, your metabolism will be on speed and you’ll be carbo-loading extra rationsMight As Well Jump “There’s been times when I’ve been finished training and I’m one pound higher. Jump rope for 20 minutes and the weight is gone”FIGHT CLUBSBring GrandmaAt the Steve Nash Sports Club the Nash Knockout classes are open to everyone. Aimed at full-body conditioning and fitness, these high-energy workouts will help you burn more calories and build more muscle than any other offering.Bring Friends Lunchtime classes at Contenders Training Studio are intense workouts for the fitness-minded (30 mins with punching bags and a partner; then 30 mins of either legs, abs, or weights), but nighttime gets technical for boxer wannabes. Contenders.caBring a DefibrillatorIt’s Fight Club meets Gandhi at the nonprofit Eastside Boxing Club, which works with committed pugilists (Jackson teaches here once a week) and devotes itself to community outreach with subsidized programs.