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Guest Blog: IN THE RING with Coach Ann

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For Ann Bailey, dedicating her life to boxing wasn’t a choice – it was her calling.  The moment she started boxing she knew it was something she would commit her life to.  “Immediately I knew it was the coolest thing I’d ever done.  I used to travel for two hours a day just to come to the gym; it was a hard commute, but I just loved it.”  Now, almost nine years later, she’s “Coach Ann,” the head coach of Cappy’s Competitive Boxing Team, and the General Manager.

Ann really enjoys the coaching side as well as the business side of Cappy’s, and finds similarities between the two.  Both require strategy tactics, keeping things moving forward, and she loves to watch the connections people make.  “One of the things I love is the strategy – on a physical, emotional and intellectual level, it makes it endlessly interesting. With boxing, you are looking to put together punch combinations, footwork, and head movement. In business, the ‘combinations’ come from different people’s skills and areas of growth. Either way, when you put it all together, it’s beautiful. I really enjoy that part.”

Ann also has experience getting what she needs, and taking bold risks to get there.  She was the records manager at one of the Northwest’s largest law firms for ten years – a career she walked away from when Cappy offered her an opportunity to pursue a coaching track at the boxing gym. “It was really scary.  Just like everyone who goes through that journey of starting a new life, I wondered, ‘what the hell did I just do?’  I have found though, that when you’re working on something you’re passionate about, something that contributes meaning to your life, your experience of ‘work’ is completely different.  You hear about that all the time, but it’s true that it doesn’t feel like work. You get to go do something you love every day.”

For Ann, that involves helping people get to know themselves better, or as she puts it, authentic emergence.  “For a person to have a truly authentic experience of themselves in the world, they have to decompartmentalize; they can’t be one person here, and one person there – you have to be fully yourself everywhere you are. Unfortunately, a lot of boxing instruction out there in the world is about getting people to do things ‘the right way,’ which only contributes to not fully being themselves.  You can’t have authentic emergence if the experience of doing something is imposed from the outside in.  It will just sit on someone like braces they have to wear on their body.  Feeling a movement from the inside out is what authenticity is about.  That’s boxing.”  

To help people get there, Ann follows the cornerstone of Cappy’s training ideology, “in life as it is in the ring,” the idea that the skills and talents you develop as a boxer are the same that you need in life.  “When I started boxing, for example, I was very forward moving; I wanted to punch people and back them into a corner – the rest of my life was a lot like that too.  Now I’ve learned about redirecting punches, slipping, luring them in; that’s translated into my ability to communicate differently with people in my life.”

Her coaching style is indicative of the different types of communication she’s learned.  She uses keen observation, intuition, and reading between the lines to coach her students.  “The job of the coach is to look at what pathways we can go down to get them there; what are their interests, passions, abilities?  You can see a lot in someone’s body language, and by listening to what they tell you.  People are incredibly revealing in different ways, especially in environments where they feel less than totally secure.”

Ann Bailey has found her authenticity as a coach at Cappy’s, and wants everyone to know she is invested in their growth and success. “I want to let the clients and the boxers know that if they have things they’d like to see different about the gym, things they like, concerns, I’m always available to talk; I’m really interested in what they have to say.  The coaches here at Cappy’s really view themselves as stewards of this place; it’s here for the people – we’re just here to facilitate that experience as best we can.”

For more information on how to get involved at Cappy’s, or to schedule with a coach contact cap@cappysgym.com.

Erin Verginia is a Seattle-based writer whose work is found in the courageous jungle of independent magazines and numerous online publications.  Her current projects include Tanglewilde (a travel blog), as well as The Associate Voice, a subset of ArtsFund.

Website by Brandon Tutmarc