Boxing club packs a big punch

After two years in business, Genesis Boxing and Fitness owner Rick Rae says his goal of making a difference is only just beginning

Scarlett Luke and owner Rick Rae of Genesis Boxing and Fitness in Parksville.

Scarlett Luke and owner Rick Rae of Genesis Boxing and Fitness in Parksville.

Each and every day, Rick Rae offers his clients a challenge. It’s the same challenge he issues to the community as well.

It’s a challenge to improve, to do better.

For Rae, much of the motivation to live up to that basic challenge comes through his lifelong passion for boxing and the skills it has taught him.

“It teaches you to be aware of your surroundings, it teaches you skills and fosters dedication and discipline and follow through,” said the owner of Parksville’s Genesis Boxing and Fitness, which celebrated two years in business over the weekend.

These aspects of the sport got him through tough times as a kid and again as an adult. When things really changed around him, there was always boxing. Drawing upon the strengths of discipline and determination, Rae took a leap and opened the boxing club. He realized, too, that it had to be about more than just the sport.

Rae, and what he has called his extended family at the club, have reached out to the community as well. The club, off of Stanford Avenue, has become a collection point for donations to the local MS branch, the SPCA and local food bank. They are causes Rae strongly believes in — and his dedication to them mirrors his dedication to his dream — to see the club be an integral part of the community’s sporting life.

To that end, Genesis isn’t just a boxing club. The addition of Scarlett Luke adds stretching, stepping and cardio classes, to name a few. It’s an expansion of what Rae calls, a family.

“We are becoming a broad-scope family,” he explained, saying the members get involved as they are able in the activities of the club.

He takes time in his classes of boxers — young and old — to find out how they are doing outside of the gym.

“We want people who want to be here,” he said. “We’re a club, not a gym. There are no contracts. It’s a commitment, so we want people who want to be here.”

That, too, is a challenge he issues to his family members.

Genesis started as a dream for Rae. As he returned to the sport he loved, he found that the workouts and training involved has changed, grown, and were still helping people reach their goals — in fitness, self-defence and even in their confidence levels.

So, when he took the leap and opened the club, he put a lot of himself, his background and what he remembered from his training days into the facility.

“I can only hope that others share the same passion and benefits of what I came to realize  was a great workout, a great stress-reliever.”

To that end, Rae has tailored his club to meet the needs of folks who share at least a little of the same passion. After all, people don’t need to be hit at Genesis when they are in the ring doing a boxing workout. Tearing down those stereotypes is a challenge for Rae as well. He said there’s more to boxing and the training one can take, than just punching and being punched.

In fact, he said many of his clients are just there for the workout involved. It hones the body as well as the mind, he said.

Above all, the sport inspires discipline and respect — a couple of the many reasons why Rae and his club work so closely with children, including many who are on the cusp of perhaps taking the wrong path.

“I am working with young men and women, many who are dealing with their own challenges. They are coming to the gym for a different form of recovery, a way to deal with life’s stresses.”

Rae added the workouts he provides offer an outlet and even a way to grow as a person.

“I’ve seen the quiet kids, the shy ones who might need some self-confidence. And to watch the transformation here is rewarding. To me, boxing teaches life skills.”

Even simple perseverance. If someone can make it through a workout in the gym, challenges outside the club can be easier — and the person more prepared for them.

“Even I was challenged,” he added. “It was when I first wanted to open the business. I rolled the dice and hoped there were enough people who shared my passion.”

Rae has found that to be the case. He has opened his club up to various sports teams — from minor squads to the local junior hockey players. Recently, he also welcomed well-known boxing trainer Richard LeStage into the fold. LeStage will be using the Genesis facility in the future to work out his stable of fighters.

Genesis has become a kind of second home for Rae — in fact his own son Richard offers nutrition advice and adds his fitness expertise. Rae’s family is heavily involved in the club and have helped create an even larger family. Check out the photos at genesisboxingandfitness.com for proof. Or drop by the club at 425 Stanford Ave. East in Parksville.

“This is my family here,” said Rae of the club and its members, “other than my time with my kids.”

After two years, Rae is happy with his family’s growth, and sees big things in the future at Genesis.

“It’s about life skills and its about the people,” he said. “And that’s the end of the story.”