Fit Kids classes at Empowering Punch

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Empowering Punch’s Fit Kids program is so much fun, kids don’t even realize they’re working out. Here’s how to get yours started. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Ken McEntee

The key to getting most kids to exercise is to make exercise fun, insists Danyl Scianna, who, with her husband, Paul, owns Empowering Punch, Strongsville’s unique boxing-based workout center.

“You’re probably not going to get a kid to run on a treadmill,” Danyl observes. “But put a pair of boxing gloves on them and it’s a different story.”

Empowering Punch’s youth fitness programs are not only about boxing. They are built around the intense, all-around workout that boxing training encompasses. Having done that intense training throughout his career, Paul, a boxing coach and former professional boxer, knows the benefits as well as anybody. Empowering Punch’s adult members understand the connection.

The same concept has been adapted into two youth programs: Fit Kids, for six- to 12-year-olds, and Pee Wee Punchers, for three- to five-year-olds.

Empowering Punch also is offering two weeklong fitness camps for kids this summer.

“Fit Kids teaches kids how to box, which parents really like because of the self defense and confidence aspects. But the class is really about all-around fitness in general,” Danyl explains.


“They are constantly moving and playing games and having so much fun they don’t even really realize they are working out. Meanwhile, they are working on balance, strength, stamina, agility and hand-eye coordination.”

Each kid is able to learn those skills at his or her own pace.

“I’m lucky to have found such a fun way for my son to stay fit,” says Jamie-Lyn Habart, whose 10-year-old son has been taking boxing classes at Empowering Punch for the past two years.

“He enjoys the workout, and the teacher (Lead Youth Instructor John Evenden) is great with the kids. John always creates fun activities for them that involve the week’s focus.”

Fit Kids is based around boxing fundamentals, but it also includes obstacle courses and other conditioning exercises.


“The boxing-based workout can improve a child’s ability to focus, which can translate into better academic performance as well,” Danyl says.

Although the kids learn offensive and defensive boxing fundamentals, the program doesn’t involve actual contact with other students.

“John makes class funny and fun, but also makes the kids behave,” says Marianne Lanning, whose 11-year-old son started the Fit Kids program in January.

“He absolutely loves class and his instructor. He has lost a few pounds since starting class and has gotten stronger and found more energy. As a mom, I love the fact that you can tell how much John enjoys the kids and vice versa. I just wish we had started this sooner.”

Fit Kids classes are offered three times per week: Tuesday and Thursday, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; and Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can pay by the class or save money by signing up for a month.

Pee Wee Punchers also emphasizes fitness but is more games oriented, Danyl says.

“There is a little introduction to boxing and the kids get to put on gloves, but for that age, John comes up with a lot of fun activities to keep kids active,” she says. “Parents are always amazed by how John keeps the kids’ attention for an hour. They want to hire him as a babysitter.”

Pee Wee Punchers is offered Fridays, at 4:30 p.m. The cost is $12 per class, or 10 classes for $99.

Kellie New has three children who have taken classes at Empowering Punch.

“The three of them leave with huge smiles on their faces, eager to come back for the next class,” Kellie says.

“Empowering Punch employs an amazing staff, all of whom are great with my kids, and the classes have definitely boosted their self-esteem and confidence.”

Empowering Punch also offers birthday parties for kids of all ages. The hour-and-a-half-long parties can be scheduled any time classes aren’t in session and include themed activities along with the chance to get into a real boxing ring. Food isn’t provided.

“Parents can bring in anything they want,” Danyl says. “But we take care of the rest. Our birthday parties are an experience kids will be talking about long after the fact.”


You can book a party or sign up for camps or fitness classes by calling Empowering Punch, at 440-572-2270, or visiting online, Empowering Punch is located in Strongsville’s SouthPark Mall, near Dick’s Sporting Goods.