“Alright! It’s time for the crazy bitch round!” yells Jessica Storch, owner of Knockout Women’s Boxing Club in Westmont. On cue, the song Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry begins to blare through the speakers and a dozen sweat-soaked women start hitting the punching bags hung from the ceiling. Crazy Bitch round is the last round of every boxing workout and during this round, anything goes.
As the women let out all their aggression on the bags, Storch walks around, critiquing some and commending others, like the woman who just threw the powerful left hook.
Storch is a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion and has years of competitive boxing under her belt but she said nothing was scarier than stepping out on her own to open the all-women’s gym.
“[My proudest moment is] when I left my old business partner and opened this,” Storch said. “That was probably scarier than stepping into the ring.”
While that may sound crazy to people who don’t get punched in the face for fun, to Storch, it makes complete sense.
“Stepping into the ring, I’m not going to die. I’m not going to go broke. It’s amateur boxing, but leaving something that was not a good situation and having the courage to start this was probably my proudest moment,” Storch said.
For Storch, the pressure on this business is increased because of what it stands for. It isn’t just a place to get in shape, Storch wants to send a message to women that they can be girlie but they can also know how to fight. She wants to empower women and show them that they can be strong and confident.
“My whole goal is to be like you can be the best you can be. You can box and you can be a badass and you can go home and put makeup on if you want,” Storch said.
To that end, this gym is only for women. Absolutely no men allowed. Storch said it has to be like that because most boxing gyms are coed and male dominated. Storch wanted a place for women who just want to box but not fight competitively.
The second thing that makes this gym different is Storch doesn’t focus on weight loss. Storch said the world is obsessed with getting the perfect body and attaining physical perfection but Knockout has a different goal: to teach the sport of boxing and how to do it properly. Storch isn’t concerned with how many calories one can burn in hour or how much weight can be lost in a month.
“What’s different about us is that no, not everybody punches properly. Not everybody in here does it right but I teach them how to do it right,” Storch said. “I don’t care if you’re a sweating, dripping mess by the time you leave here, I want to make sure you did this with purpose.”
[pullquote]”Running around, whacking the bag like a moron for an hour is not doing you any good because there is so much more to it than burning calories,”[/pullquote] she said.
Storch said opening her own gym has taught her the importance of being grateful. She observed that it is easy to think you don’t have enough money and not enough clients, but the important thing is to feel blessed for what you do have, because many businesses don’t even make it this far.
She has also learned the importance of conviction and never sacrificing your belief in yourself.
“It’s like winning a fight. You have to believe in yourself. Your head has to be in the game,” Storch said.
Storch said everyone comes to Knockout for a reason. They might not be fighting in the ring but they are fighting some kind of battle.
“This place has been a vehicle to help people and I didn’t even realize it would be like that,” Storch said.
“I think those are the most touching moments; when people legitimately tell me ‘I wouldn’t have made it through this. You don’t know what your gym has done for me.’”