By Jim Servin
“Boxing took a hit during COVID-19,” says Claire Prince, a Gotham Gym personal trainer whose specialty is the combat sport distilled into sweat-drenched workouts. An amateur fighter on her way to the Golden Gloves semifinals before the virus knocked out so much in its path, Prince, 27, has moved her training programs online, now offering a series of one-on-one 45-minute strength-conditioning workout sessions.
She also leads 30-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) weekend workouts, free on Instagram Live, set to “a kick-ass playlist” including tunes with Rihanna like “This Is What You Came For” and “Where Have You Been,” and Dua Lipa (“Love Again”). The full-body exercises offer the toning and shaping benefits of boxing, minus the mitts. “You feel like you’ve hit all the major muscle groups, like with boxing, but you’re not boxing,” Prince says. “I’ve created a fun routine that’s different every time, that’s easy to follow, with modifications in my head, just in case. You never know who you’ll have in a class.”
Prince followed her instincts as a track and basketball star in her hometown of Wellington, Florida, enrolling in John Jay College of Criminal Justice because she knew she wanted to live in New York and pursue law. A college counselor told Prince, then a literature major with a minor in health and physical education, that she needed two more classes to satisfy a second minor in phys ed. Prince signed up for boxing. A new window opened; soon law was out and pugilism became her new passion, and then career. “Boxing exposes a different level of yourself,” she says. “It’s all about conditioning and mental toughness. Once you experience it, everything else becomes a whole lot less scary.”
Hired by Gotham Gym three years ago, working double time as both trainer and manager, Prince learned the fitness business inside out. Her strategy: Maintain high standards of quality and commitment while giving clients what they want. “I offer the most authentic experience and session that I can, based on what the client’s goal is,” she says. “If someone wants to just hit something hard, I make sure their form is good. If someone genuinely wants to learn boxing, their session will be different. Boxing is repetition, if you’re doing it right—I threw about 5,000 jabs, which is my left punch, before I learned to throw a cross, my right punch. Then you have people who just want to come in and say they did boxing. I give them a fun experience. I keep it so individual. It’s about people doing what’s best for them. Running their own race. Fighting their own fight.”
Pre-COVID, Prince divided her work life between Gotham Gym’s West Village and Bridgehampton locations: “I was up at five, six days a week, traveling to and from the Hamptons every single weekend. Don’t feel badly for me, not even a little bit. There are great perks with the job. I got to spar with Bradley Cooper. Justin Theroux talked about me on the Kimmel show. But what I did realize in the pandemic was how I’d been running on pure willpower. During the first lockdown, I slept for a week straight. Naps are my wellness thing right now.”
In these stressful times, Prince wants her clients to take the low-impact route when it comes to staying in shape. “Don’t feel that you have to work out six, seven days a week right now. We’re not meant to be inside like this. If you commit to 20 minutes a day, four days a week, you did that. Do whatever works best, based on how your life was before COVID. Big, drastic jumps normally lead people to regressing to where they didn’t want to be to begin with. Slowly building and progressing is the key to longevity.” gothamgymnyc.com, @iamthebatman__ on Instagram