Everybody remembers the first time they fell in love.
Luz Ortiz is no different.
Who, or what, grabbed the heart of the entrepreneur and television personality? Boxing.
“I always say I fell in love with the first punch,” said Ortiz, who began taking boxing lessons in 2013, three years before purchasing the Box Beat boxing gym, located at The Ridge Shopping Center at 4553 N. Loop 1604 West, in 2016. “It was just like, ‘Oh my God, where was this in my life?’”
That love propelled her to becoming a boxing instructor, and, eventually, a boxing gym owner. At the time Ortiz purchased the gym, it was known as ChampionFit Gym, which was co-owned by former world champion “Jesse” James Leija.
Ortiz began her training at the North Side gym just off of Northwest Military Highway.
Seeing the impact she had on clients as a trainer persuaded her to purchase the facility.
On Sept. 22, 2016, Ortiz’s birthday, she signed an agreement to become the new owner of the gym, just north of Shavano Park.
She said opponents immediately lined up to knock down her latest venture, namely male trainers puzzled by the thought of a female with no fighting experience owning the gym.
“They were like, ‘Oh my God, you’re a girl. You’re Mexican and single,’” recalled Ortiz, a native of Sonora, Mexico. “’You are not a professional boxer. You have not done any boxing gyms, so you are setting yourself up for failure.’”
She worked to prove them wrong.
Ortiz upgraded the Box Beat gym from a “raw, gritty” facility to a “next level” fitness center, installing different equipment and adding flooring. The transformation of the gym was “night and day,” said Box Beat trainer Logan Luna, who trained Ortiz when she was a member of the gym.
“She’s put a lot of time and money into making sure that we have the best equipment that money can buy,” he said. “Back then, we didn’t have gloves for the members. First thing she did was buy gloves so the club can use them. She’s put a lot of money into new equipment that the gym could use to make the classes that much better for the members.”
The Box Beat gym also serves as a platform for Ortiz to give back to the community.
The fitness center offers free boxing lessons to a group of Parkinson’s disease patients on a weekly basis. Research indicates the exercise can improve patients’ quality of life.
“Everybody has a mission in life, and I believe that I was put into this place for a reason,” said Ortiz. “There’s a time for everything.”
Framed pictures of the late Muhammad Ali, the most notable boxer associated with Parkinson’s, are displayed on what Ortiz calls “his little wall” at the gym’s entrance.
Box Beat members receive the same level of training professional boxers do, but for a different purpose.
According to its website, the gym equips young adults with self-defense techniques and empowers women to find their inner strength.
“We don’t necessarily train (members) to go pick a fight,” she said. “When you need to use (the training,) you are prepared. When someone picks on you, you know what do.”
Ortiz speaks from experience.
Years ago, the Sonora, Mexico, native had to ward off an offender who grabbed her arms while in a crowded environment.
Ortiz felt “empowered” after freeing herself from the “sticky” situation.
“I’m not afraid to walk in a dark alley; I’m not going to put myself there, but if I do, I know where to look and how to look,” she said. “I will always be cautious.”
But she doesn’t back down, either. Her battles have even been displayed on television screens on the reality show “Texicanas,” which follows five local women who navigate life in the Alamo City.
On Twitter, Ortiz describes herself as a “warrior” and a “strong, independent Mexican woman.” Tattooed on her right wrist is the phrase, “veni, vidi, vici,” which is Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered” and is often attributed to Roman leader Julius Caesar.
Those words are reminders of the battles she’s won.
“I feel like I can go to war and conquer and win,” Ortiz said. “My philosophy of life is conquering your fears or anything. You just have to work on it; some are harder than others. I always tell people you can sit down and cry about your stuff, or you can go out and conquer it.”
At press time, The Box Beat remained closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Other businesses sucha as restaurants and shops were allowed to partially reopen May 1.
Visit the gym’s website at https://www.myboxbeat.com for updates on hours and membership.