Photo by Adam Finkle
Eliza James is Sarah Scott's inspiration.
A former cyclist and long-distance runner, Scott joined gym after gym and worked with personal trainers for decades, but nobody had pushed her as hard or motivated her as much. Before Scott met James, Boxing Is For Girls' energetic, hard-bodied owner, she heard lore of her epic workouts. "But when I came, it was love," Scott says. "It doesn't matter how you feel when you walk in—she makes some little adjustment that drives you forward."
One way James brings out the warrior in her gym's clients is by blasting motivational songs like Katy Perry's Roar, as she throws her arms to the sky and roars the words herself during the chorus.
"Pacquiao (Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao) played it for his fight," James says. "And if you hear the words of that song, 'I went from zero to my own hero,' that's me, and that's what we're doing with people here."
James' BIFG has been in Sugar House for eight years, focusing on boxing for extreme cardio workouts.
James started boxing to cross train with running marathons, and it gave her the body she wanted. Now, Utahns box with James and her trainers. Along with hitting training mitts and bags (not faces), clients work out with weight machines, a power runner and the Makoto, a machine measuring boxers' reaction time and power.
The gym's two buildings are as colorful as James herself, enlivened with co-owner Lori Leighton's paintings. "My pieces are very bright, very colorful and very similar to Eliza," Leighton says. "I think our gym is very much alive."
Scott, who commutes from the Avenues, says she'll never move if it means losing James. "From running, I hurt my knees; I thought I'd never do it again," she says. "Now, I do. She's just pushing me to be bigger, faster and stronger."
Scott is in good company. University of Utah football defensive end Nate Orchard and University of New Mexico linebacker Dakota Cox are clients, along with Austenland writer and director Jerusha Hess.
"Filmmaking is stressful. This is how I blow off steam," Hess says. "It's like therapy. I can punch out my feelings."
Boxing Is For Girls, 1983 South 1100 East, SLC, 801-484-8269
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