George Keen, 90, picked up boxing gloves 10 months ago after giving up pickleball for fear of injury.
The noncontact boxing training with coach Katy Kopec has helped improve his strength and balance, he said. It also has motivated him to prepare for his classes with Kopec.
“This is game day for me,” he said before class last week.
Kopec believes a boxing regimen can improve the strength and balance of people of all ages, without the risk of injury posed by running or cycling.
“It is a beautiful discipline,” she said.
She opened The Good Fight Boxing Gym about four weeks ago in the Main Mall to expand the classes and training opportunities she offers to boxers of all skill levels.
Kopec, a speech therapist, had been teaching private lessons and a boxing class for those with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, at the Durango Martial Arts Academy before opening her own gym.
Her new boxing gym now offers an Open Boxing Class for all skill levels, the Championship Round Boxing class for adults 55 and older, and private or semiprivate training sessions. She has also maintained her Punch Therapy class for those with Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other movement disorders.
In time, she would like to draw professional athletes who are interested in training at high altitude.
She shares the space with Steve Ilg, who is offering high-performance yoga classes.
Kopec started boxing 12 years ago in Lubbock, Texas, when a friend took her to a class.
“It really gave me a lot of strength and personal empowerment,” she said.
She moved to Durango two years ago and has been searching for the right space for the new gym.
“This is something that’s been a long time in the making,” she said.
Keen was inspired to start boxing after seeing Kopec shadow boxing at the Durango Recreation Center. His main goal is to maintain his health.
“I don’t want to lose too much,” he said, “because if I do there’s nothing left but the rocking chair.”
As a young man, Keen tried boxing at a YMCA, but he didn’t enjoy the training because it focused on sparing.
However, he was fairly active before picking up the sport. In his 80s, he lifted weights, walked and played pickleball. He gave up pickleball two years ago because he had concerns about falling and breaking a bone
Staying active has been key for Keen, particularly after being diagnosed with prostate cancer for the first time in the 1970s. His prostate cancer has returned twice, most recently 10 years ago. He credits exercise with helping to keep his cancer under control.
“Staying sick is a choice,” he said.
More information about the new gym can be found at thegoodfightdurango.com.