Bob didn’t look nervous last Friday as women lined up with boxing gloves to take a crack at his face. But then again, Bob, a grappling dummy, doesn’t have many expressions.
Women taking part in a 9 a.m. boxing class at The Edge Fitness for Women were taking jabs and throwing punches with pink, green and yellow gloves. Lead by Natalina Earls, the class lasted roughly an hour.
Boxing is just one of the many exercise classes offered at The Edge. The women-only gym, run out of the Edgewood Congregational Church’s community center, also offers boot camp, toning and strengthening, and cardio.
The Edge was created by Dr. Kristin David in partnership with her friend and former workout buddy, fitness instructor Natalina Earls. Together, they imagined and set up a “whole body fitness” space exclusive to women.
David, parishioner at the church, heard the church had space to rent in their community hall. Once she hatched the idea for the fitness center, they rented the space and laid mats down over the tile floor to make the space better for workouts. Outside of the mats and a few pieces of exercise equipment, visitors won’t find anything else reminiscent of a gym.
“No mirrors, no men, no scales,” said David with a smile.
The women-only workout space is geared toward making women feel comfortable by leaving judgment at the door.
“There’s no competition,” she said.
The Edge offers classes Monday through Saturday at 5:45 and 9 a.m. and at 6 p.m.
“We call it co-op fitness,” said David. “It’s fitness for the whole body, mind and spirit.”
David, who has a private psychology practice, said it’s important for women to find time in their busy schedules to focus on their wellness.
“We really want to support and help women to be more well-rounded and grounded. Sometimes it’s hard for women to have that balance,” she said. “There’s a link between good exercise and good mental health.”
Earls, who is certified in teaching boot camp, kickboxing and group fitness classes, worked in California as a personal trainer for many years. Now she’s working on her Ph.D. in history at Brown. Despite her academic pursuits, Earls said she has stayed with fitness all the while. She prefers to keep her classes small, so she can give each participant personalized attention.
Earls said she balances her own schedule, which includes caring for her 2-year-old son, by dividing her day into chunks of time. Between teaching classes at The Edge, she spends several hours a day writing for school, and the rest of her time tending to her family.
Earls said women should take time for themselves in order to be better wives and mothers.
“You’re not any good to your children or your spouse … if you’re not feeling fit and confident,” she said. “Find time to be healthy now, or you’ll be forced to find time to be sick later.”
Barbara DeMaio of Cranston rents another room in the community space where she offers massage therapy. When she heard there was a women’s fitness program in the same space, she jumped onboard.
“It’s incredible,” she said of the program. “You really push yourself. I’ve never had a workout like this. It’s a totally different type of workout than you’d get in your gym.”
Last week, DeMaio and four others took part in the boxing class lead by Earls. Through the sweat, all of the women bore visible smiles.
“I hate exercise, I despise it,” said Caroline Gregory of Warwick, “but I tried the toning and strengthening class and I loved it. It’s something anybody can do. I like it here.”
David and Earls are looking to expand their class offerings to include yoga, music appreciation, creative writing and belly dancing. Classes range between $9 and $18 per class, with package deals available.
“We’re helping people to tap into their talents,” said David, “while helping them to be a part of the community.”
For more information about classes and pricing, visit www.theedgefitnessforwomen.com.