Applied Pressure: Empowering LaPlace’s youth and community

Published 8:44 am Tuesday, October 24, 2023

“Applied Pressure Boxing Gym and Fitness,” a business that has recently opened its doors on Main Street in LaPlace, is not just a gym; it’s a sanctuary for the youth and the community. 

Cherise Blackman, the owner of the business, noticed challenges faced by her son and his friends during the summer months when they had “too much time on their hands.”

“There wasn’t anything for him to do. And I’m seeing his mind drifting into things that he shouldn’t be,” Blackman said. “Idle time is the Devil’s workshop. When you don’t have anything to do you’re going to find something to do, especially in the summertime.” 

Blackman discovered the therapeutic benefits of boxing as a means to release stress on her own.

“I had a lot of stress. So as a stress reliever, I would go and work out,” Blackman said. “Just hitting the bag, it actually gives you a little bit more clarity and you’re burning out the energy. You can think, kind of plan a little bit better. I’m moving my body, my mind is moving. And I’m being productive amongst the stress like I can work through it.”

While working out at TITLE Boxing Club in Metairie, Blackman met Justin Robinson, a trainer at TITLE. There, Blackman discovered that Robinson and his fellow trainers were only being paid $20 per class taught.

All of these things led Blackman to the idea of opening her own gym.

“I was like, bing! Why don’t I open up a boxing gym? Why don’t I bring it back to LaPlace?” Blackman said. “There’s nothing else to do out here.”

With the support of her husband, Corey, and her children, Blackman envisioned creating a space where the community could find not only physical fitness but also mentorship to help guide the youth toward positive decisions.

The journey to realize this dream was not without its challenges. Blackman began refinancing her house and vehicles before she found Applied Pressure’s current location on Main Street, which seemed almost destined for her project.

“We literally walked in, and it was ready,” Blackman said. “In my vision, I was gonna build something like this from the ground up. I was just gonna get like a 5000 square feet metal building and we were actually gonna build it, like the inside the offices, the toilets. I actually have a blueprint, because I was gonna talk to my contractor to see how much it would cost.”

This gym also serves as the headquarters for Blackman’s non-profit organization, “Guns Down, Gloves Up.” This initiative seeks to provide an alternative to violence by encouraging individuals to resolve conflicts through boxing instead of resorting to harmful actions.

“It’s not like it was back in the day when we used to get in a fight. Next week, it’d be a different topic,” Blackman said. “But nowadays there’s video, they can go back and replay the video. Now they feel like they have to prove something else. And somebody just needs to tell them it’s really not that serious.”

According to Blackman, the “Guns Down, Gloves Up” gives youth a healthy outlet to channel their energy and emotions

“I feel like I’d rather you come put some gloves on your hands and get in this ring and duke it out. You felt like it was an unfair fight? Let’s go another round. Come and duke it out,” Blackman said. “But at the end of the day, get this energy off your chest, get whatever emotion you have going on out of your system, and go home and leave it at that.”

In addition to boxing, the non-profit will offer tutoring, mentoring, and job preparation programs for eligible individuals aged 13-18. Blackman added that they are also looking to bring in a youth counselor to provide guidance and empowerment seminars.

“It was like a safe haven for them. But while they’re here, we want to talk to them. We want to see what their mind is, what’s been going on,” Blackman said. “Just having a general conversation, not necessarily trying to make it seem like we’re trying to counsel them.”

While the non-profit aspect of the gym has yet to secure funding, Blackman is actively working on grant applications and sponsorships from local businesses to make this vision a reality.

Applied Pressure aims to be more than just a boxing gym. Blackman envisions a holistic approach to fitness and personal development, with plans to expand the business to include a barber shop and other entities under the same business profile. 

Classes cater to a wide range of age groups, from children to senior citizens. Yoga and dance fitness classes are also offered. Blackman currently has two trainers on staff, Robinson and Dajuvette White.

Looking to the future, Blackman aspires to become a USA Boxing-sanctioned gym, allowing them to host tournaments and amateur fight nights.

“I want every quarter for us to have an official event,” Blackman said. “That’s why we got the ring so big.”

Membership rates currently consist of a monthly fee of $100 for adults, $65 for kids and $80 for senior citizens. Applied Pressure also extends a discount to St. John Parish teachers and veterans.

“We have yoga, we have a dance fitness class on Thursdays at six,” Blackman said. “Everything’s not just boxing.”

For more information on Applied Pressure or Blackman’s non-profit, visit appliedpressureboxinggym.com.