Photos by Lawrence White
With boundless energy, a passion for fitness and the pure enjoyment she derives from hitting things, Jennifer Ricupero believes she has found her life's calling through her new business endeavor in the Spa City.
With boxing instruction serving as the foundation for a variety of innovative programming, Ricupero's RAW Fitness has generated significant buzz in Saratoga Springs since opening on Caroline Street in late 2015. Looking to establish something unique when she began conceptualizing her vision, Ricupero's approach is to take the intimidation factor away from working out while fostering an environment that is welcoming and empowering to people from all walks of life.
"I really believe a workout should be something you enjoy and look forward to doing," Ricupero says. "If you don't enjoy the experience or the atmosphere you are in, it increases the likelihood you will be turned off and walk away. Everyone is different and has different needs and goals when it comes to fitness, but at the end of the day we all want to feel good and be the best version of ourselves."
"There are a lot of different ways to get there," she says, "and we try to work with everyone as an individual to find the best way to get there. We're in this together."
Ricupero believes boxing training is one of the most invigorating workouts available.
"There really is nothing more enjoyable than punching something. I absolutely love everything about it," Ricupero says. "It is such a tremendous release and, without question, a powerful stress reliever. If you've had a bad day and need to get some frustration out, or just need something to pick you up, hitting a bag is an energizing experience. Anyone can do it and really benefit from it."
A certified trainer for more than 15 years, Ricupero has a Masters of Education from Boston University. She worked and learned in a variety of positions in the fitness training field prior to opening RAW, including as director of facilities and programming at the Fort Orange Club in Albany.
"I've learned there are a lot of different methods that can lead to results when it comes to fitness. There is no one absolutely correct way to do things," she says. "I think variety is key, and finding activities you enjoy. It doesn't always have to feel like work, even thought you are working. Being creative and mixing up what you do can help keep things fresh and keep people inspired. Trying new and different things doesn't have to be scary. We'll show you that here."[gallery size="full" link="none" ids="12285,12286,12287"]
To that end, Ricupero has designed several unique classes to meet the various needs of her diverse clientele. Programs include body sculpting, high intensity interval training, Pilates and restorative yoga, among others to complement the boxing training. Ricupero has also created and even trademarked a hybrid training program called Boxilates.
"It's pretty much my baby," Ricupero says of Boxilates. "It's a combination program that focuses on cardio and core strength. The boxing element emphasizes your upper and lower body and benefits cardiovascular endurance, while the Pilates addresses your core strength, movement and flexibility. It also helps posture and toning. It's an ideal program for beginners."
Ricupero says the response to her programming has been overwhelmingly positive, and she has seen a significant growth to her business in a short time. The success of RAW Fitness has led Ricupero to open a second location, RAW SPACE, just a few doors down on Henry Street. RAW SPACE programs are geared toward movement, yoga, education and even personal styling.[gallery columns="2" size="full" link="none" ids="12281,12282"]
"I think they balance each other out nicely," Ricupero says of RAW Fitness and RAW SPACE. "This is such a great community, filled with so much to do and explore, and everybody has been very supportive and welcoming of what we're doing here. We're excited to be a part of the whole landscape here in Saratoga. It's an amazing place and a great home. I think we're offering some things that are beneficial."
The first step into a new fitness program can often be the most challenging, but Ricupero focuses on making it as easy as possible to get started.
"Come try it for free. There's no risk," she says. "Just stop in, and we'll do a one-on-one consultation with you and determine what the best fit is for your particular goals. We'll find a class and a program that is right for you and makes you comfortable. It's the most rewarding thing imaginable to see people achieve their goals and build their confidence. That's the bottom line here, and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else."
RAW Fitness- 51 Caroline St, Saratoga Springs 518-886-1948 rawfitnesssaratoga.com