Our Contender of The Month for November 2020 is Nicole Reis. Nicole and her husband Raf have been keeping up their training routine through the pandemic. It was always our joy to see them training side by side in their apartment when we had our daily Zoom classes during our temporary gym closure earlier this year. Now they are back at the gym, and we could not be happier to get to see them in person! Here is Q & A with Nicole.
Q: How long have you been training at Contenders?
A: I’ve been training off and on for 11 years. No matter how sporadic my schedule is, I always get pulled back to contenders!
Q: Which is(are) your favourite class(es) and what do you like about them?
A: I enjoy a mix of all of them. I love learning new intermediate boxing techniques and combos and then going back and honing the fundamentals.
Q: What do you like about doing boxing?
A: I love that boxing is both mental and physical exercise. Boxing is nothing like going to a regular gym, you never plateau as long as you push yourself, and it’s never boring! Hitting the heavy bag is a good way to release any stress from the day.
Q: What/who inspires you to keep training?
A: My husband Raf inspires me to keep training, he has set a pace since the start of the pandemic with long-distance running and hitting daily step counts. He keeps me focused and to never fall into the trap of laziness!
Q: Did the pandemic affect you in any way? If so, how? And how did you deal with it?
A: The pandemic did affect me a lot, both mentally and physically. I was laid off from my dream job and was unemployed for 3 months before I was officially let go. As a Chef, I’m used to the daily grunt work, always on my feet, hot environment, lifting and reaching for heavy things. It’s a go-go-go kind of environment and goes from full momentum to sudden stop was not easy. I dealt with it the only way I knew how, I motivated myself to attend the Contenders zoom classes, I went for at least 3-5 km runs 2-3 days a week. Even though I still gained weight, I gained the ability to control my mental well-being and my stress/ anxiety level with fitness. I thank Contenders a lot for keeping the regular zoom classes going and that sense of community during the hardest part of the pandemic.
Q: Working in a kitchen can be very demanding physically and mentally. What helps you stay on your workout routine?
A: Working in the kitchen has had made staying on a workout routine extremely difficult over the years, not gonna lie! The higher I’ve gone as a Chef, the harder it’s been. What helps me stay on a workout routine is having a set schedule, it’s known that the food industry can be up and down and sideways when it comes to the hours that we work. Knowing that there are classes at all times of the day, makes planning around my work schedule easy. I have taken advantage of a 12 pm class and gone to work 10 hour day after. Right now, I know it’s silly, but what keeps me grounded right now is “Do I want to sit in traffic for 50 mins to get home, or drive 15 min to class and avoid rush hour!” A regular workout routine has always been a mental battle, especially when I am already tired from a busy day at work.
Q: What is your goal in boxing/fitness?
A: My fitness goal is to continue to build strength and endurance. When the dust settles, I may dabble in sparing.
Q: What is your weakness in boxing/fitness you would like to improve?
A: My weakness in fitness is definitely push-ups. When I started running I’ve been working on my anaerobic recovery, so it’s really cool to work on that In boxing, I’d like to improve/ work on defensive boxing.
Q: What is your advice for those who are thinking of starting boxing or new to boxing?
A: The best advice I can give someone is to give it a try. Don’t worry about not being good or know anything in the beginning. Over time and consistency, you’ll only get better! Everything new is hard before it gets easy!
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: In the little free time I do have, I like to chill with my cats and go out for dinner with Raf. Sometimes I do not want to cook on my days off, but when I do I end up spending the whole day creating a dish.