EAST VILLAGE — With the help of professional boxers and a Brooklyn restaurateur, The Boys' Club of New York is fighting obesity with boxing skills and lessons in nutrition.
The five-week program enlists boxers such as Shemuel Pagan, a five-time New York City Golden Glove champion, to teach Boys' Club members proper boxing techniques for fitness while also explaining how to eat right and the consequences of poor nutrition.
"People think of boxing as just putting on gloves and punching each other in the face, but there is so much you can do with it," said Verteouris, 29, who is one of the owners of the three Brooklyn locations of Nature's Grill, a health food restaurant, and also starred on reality TV's "Fat Chef."
On recent Wednesday afternoon, Pagan and Verteouris quickly got the class of teenage boys to work up a sweat with jumping jacks and pushups as well as footwork and boxing drills.
"I love the drive of the coaches themselves," said Brandon Garrison, 15, who is attending the club's summer program, which includes "Knockout Obesity." "The classes are very productive."
After Verteouris' own struggles with food and weight, nutrition is crucial to the program.
"I don't think they [Boys' Club members] understand the consequences of a bad diet — 'Hey, this can actually kill you,'" Verteouris said.
Dr. Wendy Scinta, a weight loss and nutrition expert, already started working with the teens during the first session when the program started last week.
"Nutrition is the most important part of this program," Verteouris said.