[Wall Street Journal] Muay Thai Workout: A Punch, a Kick and a Knee to De-Stress
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Article in Wall Street Journal, written by Erin Geiger Smith.
"Punishing workouts centered around the sharp punches and swift kicks of Muay Thai boxing keep stress levels in check", says Marcus Antebi, chief executive of Juice Press, a chain of juice bars.
Any issues that crop up at work can seem much worse if he isn’t in peak physical condition, Mr. Antebi says. “The same problems seem to bounce off me if I’m getting a lot of training in,” he says. Mr. Antebi, 46, opened the first location of Juice Press in 2010. He now oversees 28 locations in the New York City area. The stores offer cold-pressed juices, and healthy smoothies, salads and soups.
He was introduced to Muay Thai by his current trainer, Steve Milles, about 12 years ago. In Muay Thai, fighters use punches and kicks as well as elbows and knee strikes. In his late 30s, he fought competitively for about three years, giving and receiving the punches, bare-shin kicks and knees to the body that come with this type of boxing.
The father of two young daughters, Mr. Antebi fits in heavy boxing-bag work four or five times a week, whenever he has a free hour. He has a long punching bag at his home in Atlantic Beach, N.Y., on Long Island, and stops by New York’s Five Points Academy, SoHo Strength Lab, or a friend’s retail store on Manhattan’s Mott Street, which has a bag in the basement and is near a Juice Press location.
He keeps his legs in shape by doing “box jumps”—jumping from the ground to anything above waist-level that can hold him, like a counter or a table, he says. He says he is known to do this at any time, even during company meetings.
Mr. Antebi works out with a long punching bag.
Photo by: Brian Harkin
Mr. Antebi works out at least five days a week, including about twice a week with a trainer. He supplements his boxing sessions with leg work as many as six days a week. When he’s on his own, he does 45 minutes to an hour of three-minute rounds using a long punching bag. He starts with two rounds of jabs, followed by a few rounds with just his left hand, including upper cuts. He switches to his right for a few rounds, he says. By round six or seven, he is incorporating various other moves, including using his knees and doing roundhouse kicks. He considers anything more than 10 rounds a great workout.
He works with his trainer, Mr. Milles, every Wednesday afternoon at Five Points. Mr. Milles holds pads for him to punch and kick, giving him tips on his form. Mr. Antebi also spars in the ring each week with various opponents.
As many as six times a week, he does push-ups, sit-ups and kettlebell squats, pulling a 55-pound kettlebell from the ground to his chin for about 100 repetitions. Several nights a week, he’ll do up to 30 squats with a 55-pound kettlebell in each hand. In warmer weather, he takes his workout to the beach, using toe straps to drag either 110-pound weights or a 100-pound bag for a mile in the sand.
Mr. Antebi follows a vegan diet. Breakfast may be an acai bowl or smoothie from one of his stores. He often eats salads for lunch and dinner, like kale with lime juice, or spinach mixed with romaine. There isn’t a fruit or vegetable he doesn’t like, he says. He doesn’t drink alcohol. “Splurging to me is coffee,” Mr. Antebi says.
His boxing workouts are done in bare feet and Thai boxing shorts, which cost about $60 for a custom pair, he says. Sessions with a qualified Thai boxing instructor cost anywhere from $120 to $150 an hour, but Mr. Antebi has trained with Mr. Milles for so long, he pays a “grandfathered in” price, he says. Membership at Five Points gym is around $199 a month for unlimited classes and unlimited use of the gym. A Muay Thai heavy punching bag can be purchased for about $250, he says.
He prefers to exercise to loud music, but has a hard time finding headphones that stay in his ears during bag work. When he plays music out loud, Mr. Antebi says his playlist will include everything from the Fleet Foxes to harder rock bands like Korn.
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