Just a year after graduating from college, Alek Kucich has already been through a career transformation that many take decades to accomplish: ditching the corporate city lifestyle for an entrepreneurial passion project.
It was halfway into his first job in the city that he started dreaming of an out, a dream that’s materialized in BOUT Boxing, a fitness studio in Roslyn.
Mirrors and bags line one side of the room opposite windows that face a brick wall. The 23-year-old operates the business almost entirely on his own and is the motivating and challenging trainer whom participants keep coming back for.
He offers group boxing classes and one-on-one sessions meant to be adaptable for participants of all ages and skill levels.
BOUT Boxing doesn’t train for combat, and the space on Lumber Road is meant to be “the least intimidating place you could ever go to,” he said.
“I wanted to create a class where someone who’s never done it before and myself could do it and still get a good workout out of it,” Kucich said. “I worked with a sport scientist, someone who focuses on how the body works, and I was working with other trainers and just going to every gym I could think of so I could take bits and pieces of it.”
Workouts are based on timed intervals rather than a set number of repetitions, he said. Rounds of three minutes include four 45-second sets that alternate between boxing combinations and body weight exercises, such as squats or push-ups.
Kucich capitalized on his experience with boxing training and a growing popularity of the sport to found the business.
He started boxing in college, where he practiced daily, competed in fights and trained others.
“When I got done in school, I graduated with a criminal justice degree. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to work a normal 9-to-5 job,” Kucich said.
But he did at first, at a baseball gear brand’s New York City office.
Discontented, he started brainstorming his own business, which quickly transitioned into serious planning.
First he talked to his parents. Then he talked to friends with business backgrounds. Soon he was doing financial calculations, and they were coming back positive.
“That was probably around April or late March, and that was when it became kind of real,” Kucich said.
BOUT had its grand opening Sept. 15 and has grown since then, mostly through word-of-mouth, he said.
“He’s great,” said Paige Terryberry, who said she goes to BOUT Boxing about twice a week. “He’s very encouraging. The workouts are really dynamic. He works one on one with people if you need it. He’s very positive.”
Friends are telling friends, and parents who participate have started bringing their children, Kucich said.
On a quiet Monday afternoon, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from “The Lion King” is echoing from the speakers as Kucich trains 6-year-old Anthony Vennera, one of his youngest clients.
Kucich decides they’ll each do a few push-ups before running across the room, doing a few more and running back.
Vennera does about half a push-up on the far side before deciding that beating Kucich is worth more than strictly following his request.
“That was cheating!” Kucich says. “I’m going to let that go though.”
Boxing began skyrocketing in popularity as a fitness routine in the U.S. last year, Kucich said, and he has pinned down the reasons why.
One, people found out that models and celebrities were doing it, he said.
“In 2018 it grew even more, and that’s just because the celebrities that didn’t know about it are doing it,” Kucich said.
But it’s also popular because of the nature of the exercise, he said. It demands your full body, every session is different and it’s fun to punch stuff.
“There’s nothing like hitting something, and the sound that the gloves make when you hit a bag or hit a pad perfectly,” he said.
Terryberry started with kickboxing before switching to boxing. She knows the sport is currently trendy but thinks it “has the potential to stick around long term just because it’s such a well-rounded workout.”
Kucich is finding that people don’t want to punch each other but do want to give boxing a try, and that’s exactly where a tough but welcoming space like BOUT Boxing comes in.
“People come in here and they’ve never done something like this, and then you are able to work these people out so hard and push them, making them uncomfortable,” Kucich said. “At the end they thank you and then they keep coming back because they enjoy it. I think that’s something I haven’t really gotten over yet.”