Highland News Leader

Two months ago he quit his sales job. Now he’s running a boxing-style gym in Highland

Boxing-focused gym opens in Highland, run by Guns ‘N Hoses fighter

After 11 years of boxing in matches to benefit first responders, Travis Tilton opened his own boxing-inspired fitness gym in Southern Illinois. The new Highland gym offers cardio-styled boxing classes.
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After 11 years of boxing in matches to benefit first responders, Travis Tilton opened his own boxing-inspired fitness gym in Southern Illinois. The new Highland gym offers cardio-styled boxing classes.

Two months ago Travis Tilton was working in a sales job he had grown to hate. Chasing quotas month in and month out, he said, was starting to become a burden.

“It got to be too much,” said Tilton. “I kind of woke up one day and hated my job. Well, if I hate my job, what do I like? I love the gym, I love boxing… where can I open up a boxing gym? That’s how I got here.”

Two months later, Tilton opened AlphAs, a new boxing and community-focused fitness gym in Highland. He said after deciding he had enough at his old job, he gave his notice and put his life’s savings into opening the gym, located in the Northtown Shopping Center.

“It was like taking a 100-pound weight off of me, honestly,” Tilton said. “I was working out and at the boxing gym anyway. All I did was cut out what made me unhappy... just left it behind.”

Tilton, a Trenton native, has been boxing for almost 11 years and spending his free time in gyms for roughly 30. He said he first got into weightlifting when he was going to school at California State University, where the new gym gets its iron-weights only style.

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AlphAs owner Travis Tilton wraps a gym members hands before a boxing class. The gym, located in Highland, uses boxing-styled workouts to improve members cardiovascular strength. Kavahn Mansouri kmansouri@bnd.com

His passion for boxing came 20 years later, by coincidence, when a workout buddy was injured while training for an annual Guns ‘N Hoses match, a boxing event that raises money to support first responders and their families.

The event needed someone to fill in and Tilton, who had never boxed before, was the man for the job. That was the start of an 11-year career. He traveled around the country for the matches, even winning one at Madison Square Garden.

“I got to travel all over doing amateur boxing events to raise money for a particular cause,” Tilton said. “I’d fight one or two fights a year and the training for fights is intense. Even though its amateurs, you’re still putting two hours a day in, hundreds and hundreds of punches, pushups and situps. I loved it. It was constantly engaging.”

That’s what makes AlphAs a different gym then most, Tilton said. While weightlifting and intensive cardio-bikes are available, the boxing classes are what sets it apart. While there’s no real-time sparring at the gym, there is slowed down sparring between members and instructors.

Tilton teaches techniques that focuses on offense, defense and other technical areas of the sport. His colleague, professional boxer Ryan Davis, teaches a one hour 15-round cardio boxing course where participants throw punches for three minutes and then rest for one.

AlphAs is equipped with a boxing ring and roughly 20 punching bags, so everyone has something to hit.

The gym also offers Tabata classes, a high-interval intensity training including elements of yoga; boxing for kids, weightlifting classes and more.

Tilton said, in general, AlphAs focuses on high-intensity training and pushes the idea of “emptying the tank and recovering.”

“Our cardio philosophy is you go 100 percent and then recover,” Tilton said. “Go as hard as you can, get your breath and then you’re going to have to do it again, just like boxing.”

Tilton said that boxing-style training can be the best way to get in shape. When he trains for fights he tries to keep one thing in mind, he said while most people don’t have to worry about that, people can get into that mindset at AlphAs.

“There’s nothing like the threat of being punched in the face to make you want to work harder,” Tilton said. “Being able to win and get your hand raised at the ends keeps you motivated, too. It translates really easily to a class.

Community also is a big part of the gym’s mission. Tilton said the gym’s motto “Lifting, Boxing, Tribe” describes exactly what members will get if they join. He said he hopes making sure a gym is a place where people make friends and socialize will bring in loyal clientele.

He said he hopes to expand the gym in the future, starting with getting more room for the new current location. He said in the next six years, he hopes to open two more gyms.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.

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