The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


July 8, 2013

Building community through boxing

EPIC Initiatives empowers people through fitness



All of Tijerina's programs are about reaching out into the community, pulling it together and building it up.

“The relational aspect is really important to me,” says Tijerina. “It’s not a faith-based organization. It’s a community-based organization.”

Building confidence, fitness and relationships

The Monday/Thursday workout hour starts with what Tijerina calls a warmup, but for the experienced ones in the group, Tijerina puts them through their paces. They start out jogging in place, and progress through jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks, planks and side planks.

“I don’t want to hear no cryin’,” Tijerina laughs as his participants good-naturedly complain.

After the warmup, the gloves go on and then it’s time to spar with the various bags or with Tijerina’s moving mitts. There is no fighting at this boxing venue, though participants do learn proper technique.

“I think it’s empowering. You can kind of feel yourself getting stronger,” says Vanessa. “It’s you against you to improve.”

Tijerina takes satisfaction in the process. “My favorite part as a coach is taking someone who feels awkward or they’re out of shape, and they get confidence, they get in shape."

Carole Freeman, 47, started boxing with EPIC in March after learning a little about it from Vanessa at their workplace.

“I’d never heard of it,” says Freeman. She weighed almost 300 pounds when she first showed up at EPIC. She’s lost 50 pounds since then. “I love it. It’s challenging and it kicks my butt.”

“That’s what started it. I learned I could do stuff,” says Freeman, who had never before worked out in her adult life. “I had no clue what they were going to ask me to do.”

As it turns out, she says, “It’s just really fun and you don’t feel out of place …. It just feels good.” Freeman credits the Tijerinas as instrumental in her success. “They’re just there to encourage me in this journey I didn’t know I could do.”

Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.

If you go What: EPIC fitness workouts Where: Park Place Community Center, 802 E. Fifth St., Anderson When: Drop in Mondays and Thursdays, 6 to 7 p.m., other times as well for yoga, fitness boxing, basketball Cost: Free More info: Check out EPIC Initiatives on Facebook, or email

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