Reyes bringing fitness programs to Marblehead

A Fighting Chance Inc., coming to Marblehead on May 1, is an after-school program offering fitness, education, and more. Michael Reyes, middle, runs the organization. Photo by Michael Reyes

Michael Reyes grew up in Boston in the late 1970s, and was raised by a single mother.

“I found myself getting in trouble as a little, little kid,” Reyes said.

Then, he found something. Reyes was introduced to boxing when he was nine years old, and fitness hasn’t left his side – or corner – ever since.

“Boxing completely changed my life,” Reyes said. “It was myself in the ring with one other person… no one to blame. I have a job, and my job is to do it.”

Now, Reyes is taking his fitness programs, A Fighting Chance and Reyes Boxing among others, to 46 Tioga Way in Marblehead on May 1.

“I’ve lived in Marblehead since 2014. I adore our community,” Reyes said. “District Fitness will be the gym name.”

Reyes purchased the Salem Fitness Center in 2019, but feels the move to Marblehead will reach more people.

“We’re leaving Salem to go to a space where, we feel, we’ll help more kids and more people,” Reyes said. “Fitness is for everyone.”

Reyes Boxing and Fighting Chance are operating in the space.

A Fighting Chance is a non-profit organization focused on youth programming, offering a safe place for underprivileged youth.

“It’s not just boxing. It’s weightlifting, normal play, and some after-school education,” Reyes said. “[We’re] allowing them to appreciate education and fitness.”

As for Reyes Boxing, the positives are, well, endless. Firstly, there are full-body workouts that can be done in just 60 minutes.

“That’s always really good,” Reyes, who also won national championships in boxing during the 1990s, said.

Then, there are the mental benefits, which Reyes feels are incredibly important in the post-pandemic world.

“You’re releasing some of the negative energy out of your system,” Reyes said. “Oh, wow, now I’m relaxed.”

As for the camaraderie, Reyes feels – in today’s world – that boxing has evolved into more of a team sport.

“We’re just normal people enjoying the workout and enjoying the team,” Reyes said. “You walk in and everyone knows your name… [it’s] a very positive atmosphere. There’s no doubt about each other.”

“We are open to all ages. We have kids who are five years old, all the way up to older adults,” Reyes said. “We’ve got guys who take it super serious… some people are just there to grab a great workout.”

Reyes and his team also provide networking – that’s if he feels another organization can make a bigger impact on someone.

“Not every coach is for every person; some coaches speak a language people just don’t connect with,” Reyes said. “Because boxing is such a tight-knit community, if there’s somebody in the area who does something better at something than me… I’ll say this is where you go.”

Reyes believes boxing is making a comeback as large-scale gyms were affected by the pandemic – on top of people wanting to reduce stress.

“We saw a big uptick in boxing,” Reyes said. “People appreciate the hard work that goes into it. To me, the sport of boxing is making a big comeback across the board.”

And come May 1, there will be another place to enjoy the sport.

“We’re excited to be in Marblehead,” Reyes said. “It’s such a great area.”

  • Joey Barrett is the Daily Item's sports editor. He reports on local high schools, colleges, and professional teams. Prior to his current position, he worked for UMass Athletics, the Cape Cod Baseball League, and Gannett Media, among others. Barrett was also sports editor at Endicott College and treasurer of Endicott's Society of Professional Journalists branch.