New gyms can be intimidating, especially for a specialty sport like boxing, which is what HAVEN Boxing hopes to combat (no pun intended) with its radically inclusive atmosphere.

HAVEN is a queer-, woman-, and POC-led space that was opened in May by Gaby Machuca, Andrea Fiorella Martinez, Nina Kossoff, and Taylor Bartenope at 65 Scholes Street. As an extension of its co-founders, the gym aims to make the oft-exclusionary fitness world feel more welcoming for all, especially those who have commonly felt othered by more “traditional” workout spaces. This all starts with HAVEN’s code of conduct, which is writ large upon entering and stresses the importance of body neutrality; zero tolerance for sexism, racism, ableism, transphobia, or homophobia; no (dreaded) unsolicited fitness advice, respect for preferred pronouns and boundaries, and use of intentional language.

For Machuca, who boasts a decade of experience in boxing, martial arts, and fitness and whose résumé includes Rumble, Equinox, and TMPL (to name a few), the goal is to break down toxic gym culture and the trend of “shopping for body parts” in favor of showing up for and being proud of yourself.

“When you’re in a safe community, a lot of marginalized people like working out together,” co-founder Kossoff noted. “It’s about demonstrating that a better space exists to people of all identities.”

That being said, the creation of said space didn’t happen overnight. Since January, the team had been scoping out locations, but nothing truly clicked until seeing the 65 Scholes space.


“When I walked in, I immediately knew,” Machuca recalled of the spot, which was previously an old gym complete with bags and a built-in boxing ring in danger of being gutted.

The gym’s opening came after two months of rental negotiations, signing a five-year lease, and plenty of long days, sweat, and tears, but the reception has already been great (“I’ve never seen so many happy tears,” Kossoff said). And that’s definitely due in no small part to the team’s efforts to make boxing as accessible as possible with things donation-based classes and a just-announced HAVEN Fund offering scholarships to BIPOC, queer, and transgender community members who may not be able to otherwise afford classes.

“This is the experience of being human,” Machuca remarked. “The price of everything is going up; taking care of yourself shouldn’t.”

And calling it just a “gym” feels almost reductive considering HAVEN’s goals to become a true community hub, which they hope to achieve through things like airing sporting events and even hosting senior citizen classes for the 60+ housing community across the street.

HAVEN offers open gym hours, classes for all levels six days per week, private training, and a buy one class, get one free trial for first-time visitors.

Oh yeah, and dogs are welcome.


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