Gym owner Jolie Glassman pushes Miami Beach students

To Jolie Glassman, boxing is more than a sport — it’s a means to stand up for yourself and change your life.

As the owner and founder of South Beach Boxing, Glassman, a former schoolteacher, is passionate about motivating every client, every child to get a kick out of a class and out of life.

“I love fitness and transforming lives, because I attribute all my strength in my life to my strength and fitness,” said Glassman, who spends a majority of her weekdays at the Washington Avenue gym with her dogs Dude and Jack. “I suffer every day in my workouts, and I know that if I suffer and drop and do 200 pushups, I can do anything in my day. It just makes life easier.”

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South Beach Boxing opened in 1998 as the rebirth of the Miami Beach Fifth Street Gym, the legendary spot where Cassius Clay, now the late Muhammad Ali, trained before his heavyweight title match in Miami Beach against Sonny Liston in 1964. The gym offers boxing, anti-bully kids’ classes, kickboxing, boot camp and yoga.

“Our concept is, ‘Never take the same class twice,’ ” said Glassman, who jumps into the classes throughout the day. “There are no walls here and one music for anything because I love organized chaos and insane energy.”

Glassman, who was born in California and moved to Miami in 1979, began her fitness career by teaching aerobics at a gym in Aventura Mall when she was 15.

With a bachelor’s degree in education from Florida International University and a master’s degree in behavior — through a scholarship program called Focus for Children in Urban Settings — she has made helping and motivating others, particularly kids, a part of her life.

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Before owning South Beach Boxing, she was a Miami-Dade school teacher, working with kids in Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and the Women’s Detention Center.

“We opened the gym with no AC, nothing. I would come after school, but then this is my forte: fitness and changing lives and teaching, so he [her husband] was like, ‘Quit teaching and we’re going to open a bunch more,’ ” said Glassman, who along with her husband at the time opened four gyms.

“In 2007 we got divorced, and he got all the gyms and I took this one.”

The staircase to the second floor, where the gym is located, has walls covered with pictures of Glassman with clients through the years. The gym has a boxing ring and an open floor full of training machines and punching bags hanging from the ceiling.

Ali, Roberto Duran and Floyd Mayweather are some of the famous boxers who have trained at South Beach Boxing. Local celebrities and athletes such as Heat star Chris Bosh also go there to train.

But Glassman treats everyone the same. As a trainer, a fighter and as a life coach, she continues to empower clients and others to build and live a healthier life.

“People tell me how I’ve changed their life,” she said. “I’ve heard it over 20 years and they tell me many times a day. I live to make a difference in any interaction; to make a difference in anyone’s life and be at peace with everything I do.”

Photos by Alexia Fodere
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