ENCINITAS — As soon as you walk into the Zen Boxing open-air studio, situated in a garden of native plants and manmade streams on Highway 101, you know you’re in for a different kind of workout. The tranquil setting seems to clear your mind for a strenuous routine of boxing moves and calisthenics followed by a wade in the recovery pool.
“I was lured by the fact it’s an outdoor gym,” Derek Gatta, Zen Boxing student, said. “It’s an alternate approach to fitness, a great way to mix things up.”
Lance Peterson, better known as Sixx, is the owner and trainer of Zen Boxing. He coaches clients through one-on-one sessions and small group workouts on site, in a nearby empty warehouse, and on the beach.
Peterson worked as a fitness club trainer for several years and then opened Zen Boxing because he wanted to give clients a better workout experience. In addition to designing fitness routines Peterson hand-built the decking and bridges around the studio to create just the right atmosphere.
“Doctors, schoolteachers and CEOs — they’re all happy and here at 6 o’clock,” Peterson said.
His training sessions include the Fresh Organic Workout, a one-on-one session in which clients work six major muscle groups in intense six-minute sets followed by a wade in the recovery pool and a shoulder massage.
He also offers small group Zen Boxing classes, which consist of a routine of stretches, focused boxing moves and vigorous calisthenics.
Peterson includes discussion of proper nutrition with his clients and recommends quality food to fuel the body properly. He personalizes his advice to help clients meet their goals, whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle or maintain fitness. “It’s calories in, calories out if you’re losing weight, no matter what you’re eating,” Peterson said.
Robusto Clark has been training with Peterson since December and has lost 40 pounds. “I’m looking fantastic and enjoying bike riding and the California outdoors,” Clark, a recent transplant from India, said. “How you’re eating is a mindset, he’s a very good guide.”
Peterson went through his own challenges with weight loss before he learned how to box and then become a certified fitness trainer. He formerly weighed in at an unfit 225 pounds. “I overindulged,” Peterson said. It was not just overeating, Peterson said. He said he overindulged in food, alcohol, drugs, boats, cars and women.
Photos from a family vacation five years ago prompted him to get fit. “I visited my family in Idaho for Christmas and the photos showed a sad, depressed, fat man,” Peterson said. “I didn’t like it. Jan. 4, (of that year) I decided to make a change and do whatever it takes to get healthy physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Boxing lessons filled him with focus, confidence and healthier goals. Peterson is presently a lean 183 pounds and in condition for competitive boxing. He credits his healthier lifestyle to his boxing instructor and mentor Rudy Reyes. “His lifestyle, belief, passion, and desire to want to truly change people for the better (helped me),” Peterson said. “Rudy grew me exponentially.”
Peterson hopes to instill physical confidence and the love of fitness in his students. According to Zen Boxing students he has hit his mark. “He’s so positive, he gives you more than you came for,” Vivian Price, Zen Boxing student, said. “I might come in dragging, feeling tired, but I leave inspired.”
Peterson’s future plans are to expand his studio and relocate to an urban area where he can fulfill unmet fitness needs. “I’m hoping in two years to be in L.A., San Francisco, or New York,” Peterson said. “Doing executive training for business people with high-stress jobs that need that physical outlet and environment understanding, ‘fat cat training.’ Those ticking time bombs we’re losing to poor health.”