A wall of gear ensures that even newbies at Title Boxing Club have the right equipment to pack a punch. Photos by Christina Leo.

We tried the boutique boxing club ringing all the bells in Baton Rouge

“So, how much experience do you have with boxing?” asks Billy, the trainer in charge of guiding us through the 11:30 a.m. Sunday workout at Title Boxing Club Baton Rouge, which opened its doors in September of this year.

I glance down at the standard paperwork in front of me, at the emergency contact blank, at the merchandise booth stuffed with cherry-red gloves and multicolored hand wraps, at the rows of 38 punching bags quivering on their chains, at the boxing ring reserved for personal training sessions, and at the fellow trainees practicing their one-two punches and air-swings by the lockers. My noodle arms shrink closer to the bone.

“Literally none,” I say. I’m laughing, but all of a sudden I wish I had eaten a heartier breakfast.

Rest assured, I’m told—beginners are surely welcome here. I’m told this as a trainer named Rachel secures my hands and wrists with a never-ending strip of neon orange wrapping (my color of choice from the selection against the wall)—and keeps wrapping, and wraps some more, and loops it again, and still once more. This is when I learn that my hands rank conspicuously below-average in size amongst the typical boxing crowd—which makes sense. I am barely 5-foot-3. I own precisely two 3-pound dumbbells. Picking up a loaded Trader Joe’s bag involves a back-of-the-brain reminder to “lift with the legs.” I think the last time I threw a backhand involved a pesky fruit fly and a lack of spare newspaper.

But the music blasts an encouraging beat, the overhead TV screens light up the hour-long countdown, and with the ding of a bell, I stuff my mitts into a pair of gloves and choose a punching bag with a clear sight-line to the mirrored wall where I can judge my reflection in all its earnest, scrawny glory. 

“That bag can be anything,” says owner Lance LaMotte, a Baton Rouge cardiologist who sat down with me, alongside his wife Kim, after participating in the workout himself. “It can be Alabama or Missouri. It can be illness or personal stress. It can be 2020. Whatever your ‘why’ is, you can come here and release some tension and get those endorphins flowing.”

Originally franchised from a home base in Kansas City, Title Boxing Club entered the LaMottes’ sphere after they discovered their love for the sport during a vacation two years ago. When the Long Farm Village Center on Antioch Road opened up two suites for rent beside popular stops like Main Squeeze, Rouses’s and Five Guys, they decided to take the leap and embark on their dream of opening a boutique fitness business—with encouraging results. 

“We’ve already sold out our founding 100 memberships,” says Kim, who is also an academic advisor and instructor of law at Southern University. “The great thing is that there’s no pressure. It’s all no-contact, and our trainers do a great job at meeting people where they are.”

She’s right. Despite my newness to the sport, during my workout I never feel out of place or discouraged. Sure, I need some arm adjustments, some pointers on remembering the forms and cycles of jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts (even some kicks when I’m feeling fancy), and certainly some self-motivation to push me through the last 10 minutes of cardio and push-up variations my angry little muscles churn lactic acid to complete. But we sing when a popular song begins to play. We laugh at jokes. We all at least once let ourselves collapse to the floor when Billy isn’t looking. And it’s all part of the fun. 

“What I love about boxing is that it’s unique, even here in Baton Rouge,” says Lance. “There’s Krav Maga and UFC, but I think Title Boxing is great because you don’t need a certain skill set to get started. You don’t have to know how to lift weights or run fast or jump high. It can complement whatever other workouts you may be doing, and it’s a lot of fun. Anyone can hit a bag.”

Leaving the gym drenched in sweat, I know that I’ll be feeling this in the morning. But there’s a first time for everything. And maybe even a second and third. Why let a good pair of neon orange hand wraps go to waste?

For more information on training, membership and monthly specials, visit titleboxingclub.com and follow along on Facebook and Instagram.