A photograph was all it took to inspire Erin Alsakhria to change her lifestyle and to get healthy.
It was more than year ago when the 37-year-old mother of two looked at the image of herself and was surprised by what she saw. "I was like, 'What happened to me? How did I gain all this weight?'" the Schaumburg resident recalled.
To get fit, Alsakhria started dieting and exercising. Eventually, she decided to expand her workout routine. But she didn't want a traditional health club experience.
"I don't want to be on a treadmill all day," she said. "I want to do something more exciting."
Fortunately for Alsakhria, someone told her about Title Boxing Club. The national fitness chain offers a boxing-inspired workout that it has dubbed "Power Hour." The 60-minute workout "combines bouts of intense cardio and boxing exercises with short periods of rest," according to the company. Donning boxing gloves, Power Hour participants get to punch and kick heavy bags during the group classes.
After trying the workout several months ago, Alsakhria was hooked. She got a membership to Title Boxing Club for her entire family, including her 14- and 7-year-old sons.
"It's like the craziest workout, but it's addicting and a lot of fun," said Alsakhria, who participates in Power Hour sessions at least four times a week.
Cher Nicolas, who is a trainer at the Title Boxing Club in Schaumburg, says the appeal of the Power Hour is that it's based on a boxer's training regime. Former professional boxer Danny Campbell designed the workout.
"If you take a look at fighters out there, they are in good shape," Nicholas said. "So why not try that type of training to achieve that?"
The trained instructors who lead the classes bring their own motivational styles and techniques to the sessions, according to the company. Some instructors, for example, focus on upper body training while others might incorporate more cardiovascular exercises.
Still, the format of each class is the same. After a 15-minute warm-up, participants do 30 minutes of bag work. The session closes with 15 minutes of abdominal and strength training.
Nicolas said the result is "an all-inclusive workout."
"As you are hitting that heavy bag, you are working your core," Nicholas said. "But you are also getting a cardio component because we aim to keep people moving the entire 60 minutes. So it's really back and forth between your energy systems, building functional -- as well as cosmetically pleasing -- muscle."
And because each participant can modify the exercises to their individual ability, Nicolas says the sessions are attracting a variety of people. The company says Power Hour classes are especially popular among women ages 30 to 45 years old.
Jamie Kutyba of Streamwood says she decided to try the workout because it has elements of boxing and kickboxing. Participants also can burn up to 1,000 calories during the session. "You can't beat that," she said.
The 29-year-old mother studied martial arts for much of her life until the birth of her daughter seven years ago. Now she's trying to get back into fighting shape.
"I do hope to get in the ring one day," said Kutyba, adding that she wants to try boxing.
In the meantime, Kutyba says she enjoys the regular workouts with the heavy bag.
"You go in there with a mission and purpose," Kutyba said. "After a long hard day, you've got to take out that stress somehow."
Kutyba and Alsakhria both said that the workouts have helped them lose weight and feel better.
"I feel strong," Alsakhria said. "I feel a lot leaner."
More than 60 Title Boxing Club locations have opened since the first one debuted in 2008 in Overland Park, Kan. There are fitness centers in several suburban towns, including Buffalo Grove, Naperville, Schaumburg and Crystal Lake.
For more information about Title Boxing Club, visit Titleboxingclub.com.