Fit for the Fight

roughhouse boxing

Get ready, get sweaty. All thoughts turn to fitness this time of year. The struggle is real. For many, working out has evolved beyond just the necessary health benefits of exercise into the drive to live and train like an athlete. And when that training involves slipping into gloves and pummeling a punching bag, it’s next-level empowerment, especially for women.

With a degree in exercise fitness, a great grandfather who boxed during WWII and a father skilled in martial arts, Edmond boxer Stephanie, ‘The Terminator,’ Tolson discovered her passion for contact sports early in life. Now, at 38 years-old, the 5ft 3-inch petite powerhouse is not only excelling competitively in a once-predominantly male sport, but helping redefine it in the gym as well.

With 16 fights under her belt, including the 2018 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, Tolson is a driving force in building awareness of the sport for women. Although there are still fewer women than men in the ring, that disparity is waning in the gym. “You don’t have to compete to take up boxing,” Tolson says, “and you don’t have to be in shape first, before starting. I’ve exercised all my life and am in better shape now, at 38 years-old, than I was at 25.”

The raw, un-choreographed mechanics of boxing might seem intimidating at first, but newcomers of all ages and fitness levels are discovering the thrill of the fight. For four years at Roughhouse Boxing & Fitness in Edmond, Tolson and co-owner Joe Garcia, have brought a no-frills approach to the sport. There’s something incredibly motivating even about the spartan atmospherics of the gym itself–like the stark, unyielding room offers no excuses. You know what you’re there to do. Even the class schedule is straightforward: All classes are for all ages and all fitness levels.

While Tolson and Garcia–a competitive boxer and head coach at the gym– are keeping it real, they also keep it fun and invigorating. “We’re like a small, tight-knit community with great camaraderie and support,” Tolson says with a grin, “but we keep each other on our toes.”

At Roughhouse Boxing & Fitness, you may be punching a bag next to someone who trains for self-defense in their line of work, or you might just as well be sweating it out alongside a CEO or soccer mom. One member who has trained at Roughhouse for several years, says, “Joe and Stephanie are both humble and knowledgeable boxing people. Joe loves to teach and instruct, even novices such as myself. Stephanie keeps the gym about boxing and nothing else. The noise of the outside world stays out there, and the gym is for everyone because we are all there for one thing.”

On tap for this growing gym is an exciting new exercise program specifically for those suffering with Parkinson’s disease. “Groundbreaking medical research and strides have shown that boxing is one of the best exercises to help slow the progression of the disease,” Tolson says. Roughhouse, currently taking one-on-one Parkinson’s clients, will become an affiliate of the ‘Ready to Fight’ program, with plans to offer group Parkinson’s classes later this year. 

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