I have been a member at RSU for 2 years. I just had surgery and have a few minutes so I thought I would review RSU here while I recover. I can't wait to get back to the club for sure! A couple of years ago my son asked me to learn how to box. So I found RSU and used yelp as part of the search. My intent was to get my son signed up and after watching a couple of sessions I decided I wanted to join as well. I had always admired the sport. Needless to say my son doesn't get the opportunity to go as much as I do due to his other sports commitments. As fate would have it I love working out at RSU and do between 3-5 days a week. It has really changed my life. What you need to know about this club is you'll learn real boxing and train with club mates of all walks of life and levels. Some members compete in amature boxing and others might just use it as fitness or cross training but everyone learns real boxing. Mark Messer is the leader and runs most classes. He is organized, motivates, communicates clearly, keeps the energy high, and has high expectations for the entire class. I've played competitive sports my whole life up to junior college level. I'm 40 year old as I write this and Mark creates the same exact atmosphere as any competitive practice I've come to miss, love, and expect. I personally feed off that energy he creates. When I first started and like joining any new club or community you'll feel new and bit outside the group but what happens as you continue to come is you'll find this is a community that welcomes everyone in. Member's there are kind and helpful. Each person will help the next. Mark has really fostered a great community. Each class is generally structured the same with jump rope to warm up, some running warm ups, foot work, and then partner work doing drills together, finished with fitness and core work, followed by a cool down of stretching. If you love interval training this is your sport. The partner work is where I think a lot of friendships and community is forged. We all learn to be good teammates and each can help each other grow. Something you should know is because this is real training Mark or whoever is leading class isn't there to make you feel good. He and his trainers get to business and dedicate 100% of their time to giving you the best training and workout they can in the hour you dedicate to class. For me personally I've learned more then boxing at RSU. It has impacted my personal life in positive ways. I'm more relaxed at work and at home. Since I joined my wife has noticed I have less angst at home. At work I tend to let the little things go more so then in the past. From a boxing perspective I've entered the world of sparring with other club mates and I found I needed to learn more so I signed up for personal lessons with coach Tigran who has taken me to whole other level of knowledge and skill. Of course there is zero pressure for anyone to spar and that is totally up to each member. On another note I was a sad reading a negative review here from last year. I actually think I remember being at class that day as that was a day where after class we were setting up for a USA boxing event for the following day which is why Jiu Jistu would be cancelled. This typically means preparing the gym for the event by cleaning and setting up for the event. It's a lot of work and a lot of members will volunteer to help setup and Mark will try to get us all out of there as quick as possible. I'm certain he was just trying to keep focused on us and the event. I can assure you as a member Mark is dedicated to his community and members and will work for us all. If you want to join my recommendation is to show up 15-20min early talk to Mark and watch a class. If you show up during class just have a seat watch and catchup with Mark after to discuss any details. I hope you find this helpful and join. It's a great sport!

- Steve Thurman 


Originally, I was drawn to boxing as an alternative to marathon training. In fact, I found Sidekicks -- the boxing gym where Kim and Mark Messer were teaching at the time -- because it bordered a popular running path. Every Sunday, as I finished my long training runs, I would see the sign advertising “executive boxing” and every Sunday, I’d will myself to remember the phone number. Finally, after too many Sundays to count and after a particularly grueling 20 mile run, the number was lodged in my memory, and I soon found myself wrapping my hands and embarking on what has become a life-altering personal journey. Anyone who has spent time in a boxing gym will tell you the physical aspect is only a small part of what boxer’s learn. In fact, I refer to boxing as a mental activity with amazing fitness benefits. The fact that I lost 45 pounds in 4 months or took 2 minutes a mile (!) off of my running pace is secondary to the life lessons I have learned in the gym. Even after 7 years, I still learn something about myself every time I wrap my hands or get in the ring..(Especially) when I get in the ring ! My boxing skills have seen me through many tough situations outside of the gym. I have learned the challenges and issues we face in real life magnify themselves in the ring and in order to face them inside the ropes, I need to visualize and practice at all times.  The result of this focus has made me more confident, less shy, less fearful and much more effective at controlling my reactions and emotions in stressful situations outside the ring.  Recently, I had someone close to me tell me I saved her life because of the way I talked her through a particularly difficult and emotional situation. I told her the only reason we made it through that conversation without arguing with one another (versus focusing on the issue) was because of my boxing training. Had I not been focusing on the art of discipline, I’m not sure I would have been able to control my reactions. As I’ve gotten more involved in the sport and met boxers from many other gyms and trained at other gyms, it is apparent that Mark Messer has an amazing gift. Not only does he share their passion of the sport with his students, but he also teaches all students the same basic techniques they teach their fighters. In fact, many of the basic boxing students have gone on to be fierce competitors with only minor adjustments to their training schedules.  Coach Messer’s has a deep knowledge of the sport and an uncanny ability to transfer that knowledge to anyone who walks in their door. He takes a different approach than most coaches I’ve encountered. For instance, he doesn't just teach students how to punch..but he teaches them how to stand, how to move, how to hold their hands, how to defend themselves, how to work in an offensive and strategic way as well. He also teaches all students how to work the heavy bag and hold the focus mitts for a partner.  And above all, he puts intense focus on technique and attention to detail. One of Mark’s favorite sayings is, “Practice doesn’t make perfect – PERFECT practice makes perfect.”  And that’s the bar to which he holds his students. You can always pick a Messer boxer out of the crowd. I thank the Messer’s everyday for sharing their passion and introducing me to mine.

- Shelby Barnes

 As a future soccer player for University of Chicago in the fall, I was looking for a sport I could play for the summer to cross train for soccer. I had started to plateau by just running and going to practice to get in shape, but merely going to the gym and working out had never appealed to me. I knew that playing a sport would both entertain and push me to become a better athlete. I had always wanted to try boxing but never mustered up the courage to look into it. Finally, after a former fighter recommended RSU, I came to watch a class with my dad. It took some convincing, (he was concerned for my safety) but I got permission from both my parents to start boxing in the summer. After only two weeks of taking boxing classes 3-4 times a week, I could tell that I had gained a significant amount of strength in my upper body and core. In the short amount of time that I have been boxing at RSU, I have gained an appreciation for the game and the amount of not only pure strength, but also the stability, mental keenness, and cooperation that boxing entails. About a month into my time at RSU, I also started to take kickboxing. Even as a soccer player, this class really challenged me, as I had to break my soccer habits and really pay attention to the technicality of kickboxing. RSU is unlike any other gym in the sense that it’s smaller and has more of a sense of community among the members. There is a diverse group of people who are friendly and are all willing to push each other to become better boxers, no matter how experienced or inexperienced. Everyone is very welcoming and encouraging at the club, whether it is to try a new class, start sparring, or simply help with a question or basic skill. I was never pushed to do anything I was not comfortable with trying yet, but always supported in my ventures to do something harder. Mark and the other coaches put a great deal of emphasis into the technical and mental aspects of the game into our classes through their individual attention. The discipline that they’ve encouraged during class has helped me to keep the same mentality when training by myself outside of class. Now, with boxing 6 times a week, having soccer practice 3 times a week, and doing extra running, ball skills, and core work on my own, I feel the best I ever have physically and confident that I am ready to compete at the collegiate level. Unfortunately I won’t be able to continue boxing during school in Chicago, but I fully look forward to coming back during breaks to continue training at RSU.

- Sophia Kim

I joined RSU after moving to Seattle from Chicago.  Due to the stress of moving across the country and adapting to a new, hectic work schedule, I weighed in at 252 pounds after my orientation, the most I had ever weighed. When I lived in Chicago I used to attend a generic fitness club’s boxing/kick-boxing classes, using those programs to help me to get into shape and to challenge myself.  When I joined RSU, I expected classes similar to those I had taken in Chicago, but I was in for a surprise – RSU was much more professional and challenging than any program I had taken in the past.  For the next couple of months I rediscovered muscles I had not used in a long time and developed a cardio regimen that could sustain me during the basic boxing workouts.   It was tough making it to RSU three days per week for what was sure to be a humbling experience – where I just barely hung on through the whole workout. After three to four months at RSU I took the basic kick-boxing orientation and began taking kick-boxing classes as well as continuing to train in boxing.  I continue to enjoy the combination of kicks and punches and the coordination I have developed that is necessary to combine these two elements of fighting.  After four to five months, I hit my stride – the workouts were still challenging, but I began to gain the ability to focus on learning and applying new techniques. Since joining RSU, I have lost between 40 and 50 pounds.  I did not modify my diet much, other than eating smaller, more nutritious meals – after all, how could I put a bunch of garbage in my body after spending all that time at the gym Going to that first class was hard, but the workout I did last night was also challenging.  Because of the rigorous nature of the workouts I complete at RSU, I come to the gym prepared to push myself on a continuous basis.  Pushing is hard and does involve some pain, but the result is worth it – I get in better shape and learn each technique as it would be applied in the ring. After all, pain is just weakness leaving the body!  

- Jamie Laflen


Ring Sports United runs a nonprofit organization, the East Side Pugs that supports local youth to keep them off the streets.

This is the same organization that supported me when I was competing. Boxing saved my life. It kept me out of trouble and taught me life lessons of discipline, hard work, sacrifice, and fighting through adversity.

Coach Mark Messer saw something in me; He believed in me, He trained me for free. He traveled and took me to fights and sparring sessions for free. He gave me a job at the gym allowing me to lead some of the classes when I was just starting my career as a coach.

I will never forget the lessons and sayings he drilled into my subconscious “Footwork is fundamental, Head movement is key, Give them something, take it away, Make em' miss, make em' pay!" (Coach Messer)  I will never forget those who have helped me succeed, because success is never achieved alone and I will never forget Ring Sports and the East Side Pugs.

-JinJin Yuan