Q&A with Vinny Cappuccitti, WEAC’s Head Boxing Coach

Boxing runs in Vinny Cappuccitti’s veins, from putting on his first pair of gloves almost as soon as he could walk, to childhood days in the gym being trained by his father with his siblings. Vinny’s life has revolved around absorbing and learning all aspects of the sweet science. 

These days, Vinny is the West End Athletic Club’s head boxing coach and head personal trainer. Vinny’s work focuses not only on conditioning and helping people to meet their physical goals but also on the importance of mindfulness and mental wellbeing

We asked Vinny about his love of the sport and how he thinks it can help to change people’s lives: 

What are the benefits of boxing in terms of outcomes? What muscle groups does it mainly work?

Boxing and MMA (mixed martial arts) are the two sports that utilize every type of fitness and cardio system. It’s a full-body workout; it starts from the toes up. When I teach punching, I teach it from the feet up. You can’t generate the force, the power and the speed if you’re only using one part of your body. That’s why you start with skipping on your toes. You’re building your calf muscles and your ankles, which builds your leg endurance and conditioning – all the way up.

It uses both cardio systems – slow-state and explosive cardio. Whether you’re running, skipping or jogging for practice, or even just moving around the ring, you’re doing slow-state cardio. Then, when you go to throw a punch or do a combination of punches, those movements use explosive power and explosive cardio. You’re utilizing everything.

What do you think are the initial outcomes you see for people after training?

It’s a complete transformation. There’s this one girl who trains here at called Cecilia Divito, but we call her Ceci. She had never even worked out before and was shy and quiet when she got here. She started off working out on the fitness side of the gym, then she saw people hitting the bags, and she said ‘I want to try that’.

Within 6 months, Ceci was fighting for us at a Victory Charity Ball. It was phenomenal. I had tears in my eyes when I saw her because I had seen her progression. In between rounds she was dancing around, putting her arms up. Seeing that transformation in Ceci and my students; there is nothing better than that as a coach. I’m trying to give them skills and lessons that they can then take out into the world. That is what it’s all about. I love to see people transform their pain into power. 

What is the most important thing for people to know about training?

Repetition is important. And that’s why people long term fall off with boxing unless they’re serious about it. Boxing is essentially pattern recognition, pattern disruption and pattern creation. It’s basically a human chess match, involving fists. 

When I teach my students, I focus on the mind. There’s a meditative aspect to it, a calmness and a oneness. The best fighters utilize everything. I often use the analogy that you have to be an ice cube in a fire. The colder you are, the more calculated you are, the less emotion you have. You cannot fight or train with emotion. The minute you start to do that, your brain starts to go crazy, you’re burning energy, and you’ll be gassed after one round. It doesn’t matter how good your conditioning is if your mind isn’t in the right spot you’re done.

What do you hope to do differently to other boxing gyms?

I grew up in old school gyms with hard core coaches. I grew up with the mentality that pain is good, and if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right. I don’t want that for my people. 

Number one, I tell my students that fear is OK. Every single person experiences fear. What you do with that fear is up to you. I want to see people using that fear and turning it into power. In any other boxing gym, if you tell the coach you’re afraid they’ll laugh at you and tell you to take a hike. At West End AC, I love that honesty because it shows me someone is real. We can work with that fear. 

Boxing is fun and boxing is safe. You have to learn how to do it the right way. I’m not going to throw you in the ring. In other boxing gyms, it’s usually a rite of passage where if you want to learn how to box, they’ll put you in a ring with someone who knows what they’re doing and they’ll beat the crap out of you to see if you come back the next day. I’d never, ever, ever do that with any of my students. Boxing being fun and safe is the most important thing, and that’s driven by the gym atmosphere.

You can keep up to date with Vinny and his work through his Instagram and YouTube channel.

Article by Olivia Hows, journalist/digital content creator