Learn to Box with Learnivore

Learning to Box through Learnivore

I really love that name Learnivore. Perhaps it’s because I spent one year reading dinosaur books to my T-Rex obsessed son when he was three-years-old. We learned about herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. But Learnivores? Such great branding. I think it means folks who love to learn.


I was asked if I wanted to try out Learnivore as a sponsored blog post and I thought, why not? But then, learn what exactly? I’m done with formal education after I completed my M.B.A. more than two decades ago.  But Derek, the head of Learnivore community, said:

We would basically have you use our site to request a lesson in any discipline in the Boston area (everything from skateboarding to sewing, honestly). It’s pretty simple. You’d create a basic account, which takes no more than a minute or two , and then you would click on the big, green button that says “create a request.” You would then answer a few short questions about what you’re looking for so that, when completed, your request can be sent to all of the instructors in the Learnivore community that fit the bill. Within a few days, you’ll have a number of qualified instructors reach out to you via our messaging system and you’ll be able to use factors like cost, availability, student reviews, experience, etc. to choose your favorite.

The only thing I’m obsessively trying to learn these days is boxing, specifically to improve my sparring in the ring.

So I threw down the gauntlet to Learnivore: Find me a sparring trainer in my area and I’ll cover your company, otherwise it’s off.

Turns out, it’s on!

Though my request was not optimized for fulfillment, I had two trainers respond. Ryan White, a MMA fighter and personal trainer, offered me a free boxing session at South Shore Sportfighting, but that was a little too far. He sounded nice though.

And then Todd Paris responded. He is a boxing trainer one town over from me!

Todd Paris boxing trainer Boston area

Todd Paris, Boxing Trainer

His profile? Boxing Meets Dead Poets Society! Could it be more perfect? He fell in love with the ‘fwip fwap’ sound a jump rope makes as it quickly slaps the floor. I fell in love with boxing as a kid watching a boxer in the Rockford Files hit the speed bag; it was ‘thump thump thump’ ‘thump thump thump’ that did it for me. He studied philosophy and is into Zen Buddhism, yoga and Tai Chi. I created YogaBox™ at my gym!

Turns out that he knows my trainer too; Boston is a small town! And while I did let my trainer know that I am doing this lesson, it is an awkward moment in boxing!

Todd called me to assess what I wanted and I told him what I needed to work on (in the pocket slipping and blocking) and my issues (weighing 92 pounds and being 50 means everyone is bigger, younger and usually more experienced). He then designed a one hour lesson around it.

boxing sparring lesson with Learnivore

Todd set up my lesson with two other women who are also learning to spar. Inga is around my height and has been training for a year. She’s a very focused fighter. She’s also a pediatric oncologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This video was accidentally shot in slo-mo but that’s what makes it funny!

Nicky is much taller and a nurse. She’s been training for two years and has great moves and fast hands.  They are very, very nice!

Todd Paris boxing training for sparring

My sparring partners with Todd Paris. 

We did a quick warm up with two minutes of jump rope and then we started in the ring with training exercises that emulated a few seconds in the ring working on a very specific punch and response drill. The idea is that one person moves around like she is sparring and throws just one punch — the jab — and the other person responds by blocking, slipping, or parrying the punch.

Parrying is new to me; it’s just swatting the punch away as it comes to you. It’s a great move for me, since I tend to extend my blocking hand out too far when blocking.

My big takeaways for the lesson are:

  1. Drills in the ring with other women simulates sparring. It’s a nice way to work on what I am uncomfortable with and I like how I can work on one specific thing. This is simulating sparring for 5 seconds; giving me time to predict what will happen and react. It’s like the movie Ground Hog Day. You get to do it over and over until you get it right!
  2. A disadvantage can be turned into a disadvantage. I am very small and short so I always have a reach disadvantage, but when I am inside and close to my opponent, I actually have the advantage (though it doesn’t feel that way; I actually feel exposed and vulnerable being that close) because my longer armed opponent has no room to throw a punch.
  3. Even though I am uncomfortable “in the pocket” close to my opponent, it’s my friend. I need to jab, block and slip my way there and then use this position to my advantage. My natural inclination is to GET OUT so I have to fight that impulse.
  4. Boxing is such an individual mind game where I need to convince myself to do things that my instincts say to do the opposite. The combination of a physical and mental challenge is what, I think, keeps my friends and I coming back.

I’m impressed that Learnivore was able to set me up with a great trainer for this lesson! I think I’ll get the trainers at my gym signed up!

How about you? What are you trying to learn? Would you give Learnivore a try to find someone to teach you something?

Learn to Box with Learnivore

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Good for you! This is really inspiring. Learnivore sounds like a great resource, I\’m definitely going to peruse. Thanks for the post!

  2. What a great way to expand your boxing skills! I would hire someone to help me learn to knit.
    maryanne recently posted…Sensory Play: Making Gak and Playing with GakMy Profile

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