Jolie Glassman’s goal is to transform lives on the greatest scale possible. For over 30 years, Glassman has lived her professional and personal life executing personal development, healthy living through fitness, and living according to the rules of boxing.
Her company, South Beach Boxing, focuses on empowering clients to get results while living a life they love. Since 1998, Glassman has worked with a number of celebrity clients, including Will Smith, Brett Ratner, Roy Jones Jr., and many professional NFL players and athletes, including LeSean McCoy, Darnell Dockett, and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.
Glassman is also the founder of a children’s charity called Jolie’s Kids, where she works with at-risk youth, teaching them to be fully self-expressed and humbled through the sport of boxing. Glassman is currently writing her book, Life According to The Rules of Boxing, which will be released in 2021 emphasizing her philosophy, “you don’t have to be a boxer to train and live like one.”
Her Agenda: Earlier in your career, you were teaching language arts. How did this passion for fitness start to arrive through your early career and now?
Jolie Glassman: I have a whole lifetime in fitness. I was always last in school. I was always the last kid around that had to run again. So I think a lot of people who are into fitness, are also overcoming adversity. I sucked and I hated sucking. I didn’t want to be last anymore. I had to overcome myself and do so much work on myself. My whole philosophy is – you work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
So I was always into fitness since I was like 15. I was living in the gym and it was no joke I ended up owning a gym. Then, I fell into teaching out of desperation. I had gotten a degree in chemistry, I was going to be a doctor. My mom said: doctor, lawyer, cop, firefighter. There weren’t many choices when you were younger. Those are your choices. So I was like, ‘okay, doctor, I kind of want to do that.’ I didn’t get along with my mom, I ran away when I was young and was like what can I do?
There was a full scholarship program for two years in teaching in the inner-city. That’s how my whole life started. I was already teaching fitness after school. Then I got into the inner-city. It was my talent, I loved it. The behavior, the inner-city, the underdog kids. A fight for a cause. I was always a fighter at heart. Boxing, everywhere you go, there you are. It’s no wonder boxing is here for me in my life because I’ve been fighting since I was a kid. Fighting because I didn’t want to be last, fighting because I didn’t want to live at home, fighting how I didn’t want my house to be like how my mom gave it to me, fighting how I didn’t want screaming in my house. It [boxing] was like always fighting for a better way.
I had backpacked around the world for a year and I came back and said I am not marrying an American. I was 21 years old. and I lived it up, I partied, I was a student but got straight A’s. I knew what I wanted. I was a strong kid in that way because I was fighting. Fighting is key whether you’re boxing or not, you have to bob and weave, etc. You have commitment, have discipline if you want what you want.
Then, I met my husband — my ex-husband. At the time, I was going to work at 5 AM or waking up at 5 AM to go to school. He was going to open a club, bowling alley or a boxing gym, and I just heard “gym.” I didn’t know boxing was like what I teach in the inner-cities, because I was teaching kids to fight. Meaning one on one, not really teaching them the skill of fighting, but how I was solving the issues behaviorally with no bullying. You can’t jump in but can facilitate the fight. So that was my little recipe of getting the kids to — I have lots of recipes, being real with them, understanding and listening to them, but really allowing them to fight. I really thought it [boxing] was going like an extension of my fitness career.
Her Agenda: Your forthcoming book, Life According To The Rules of Boxing, comes out this year! Were there any challenges in writing this book? What can we expect to learn from this book?
Jolie Glassman: Oh my god the challenges I’m facing, I’m still facing. I’m all about direction and perfection because boxing is about chasing mastery. We never really get there but you’re chasing it. It’s like the illusion and disillusion of chasing it and you’re in it. You’ll get there but never get there, it’s the space in between.
In my book, I have 101 rules, I’ve gotten through 80 but my biggest challenge it’s never good enough. The challenge is every time I make edits, I want to go back and want to change it. I can’t let go and surrender. I have so many stories about my confrontations around writing my book, it’s hilarious. The motivation to help me finish is that I’m going to serve the world, and help people.
Her Agenda: How do you personally live like a boxer? Why do you think this is beneficial for your clients to follow?
Jolie Glassman: It’s funny I was just dating some guy and he’s like I knew you a beast, but I didn’t know to this extent. I told my employees, men get in my way because I have crazy morning routines. I have crazy night routines and I live like a boxer. I wake up, I meditate, I bob and weave like crazy through life. The reason why I’m writing it [the book] is because I box in life. I’m the champion of my story, I’m not the champion of your story, and who doesn’t want to be the champion of their own story?
I don’t want to work with just anyone. I don’t want to work with people that come in one day and are like “ooo I want to be really strong” but then don’t want to commit. If it’s a recipe and you’re making a chocolate cake and you’re putting bananas and oranges in it, then it’s not chocolate cake. You have to do the program. I’m for people that are overachievers. I’m for people that feel like they’ve tried everything and they really want results and haven’t gotten it. I’m really good at moving people out of their own way and changing their work, behavior and altering all their habits.
I am really good with people because I have compassion. If you’re on the floor crying, I understand it’s hard, so I’m dying with you. I’m going to die with you. I’m going to do it with you. I’m going to talk about how hard and what a nightmare it is. We might decide we’ll do it for 10 seconds 20 seconds or however long. Then it’s over, talking time is over and it’s like time to go through it. I give people the tools, the motivation, and the vision. The know-how to bob and weave in their own life to get what they want if they really want it.
Her Agenda: That’s interesting because it sounds like you live a routine life. But one of the things you and your staff [South Beach Boxing] live by is, “Routine Is The Enemy (R.I.T.E).” Can you elaborate on this more? Do you think this applies to being a business person as well?
Jolie Glassman: Yes, I think you gotta be clear on who you are, what you like, what you want, what aligns with you, what doesn’t align with you. I’m very clear what works for me which is peace, freedom, love, and full self-expression. If things don’t align with that, I don’t do it. I want to be healthy, I want to be fit. I want to be strong, I want to be better than the day before. I’m a beast in that way. I get up and do it.
Routine is the enemy for me because I love variety. So routine is the enemy in your workouts. My philosophy in life is moments between the notes that create the music. It’s like a game, you never want to show them your cards, you don’t show them the cards and you show people who you are and they see it. It’s all a game to be fully self-expressed.
Routine is the enemy and routine is a gift because there’s commitment and there’s discipline. You need routine, commitment and discipline and then you want variety. It reinvents the wheel of muscle confusion like interval training and crossfit. I say boxing is styled-fights. They never have the same rhythm and tempo and that’s what life is. Life is “routine is the enemy.” You have to know how to handle interruptions, bob and weave. Know when to hold them, and not. You know routine is the enemy for fitness, but routine is not the enemy for a health regimen.
Her Agenda: The work with Jolie’s Kids seems like it is teaching very important fundamentals to the youth. What kind of workouts, lectures, or activities are they learning? How do you think this program will shape their futures?
Jolie Glassman: I teach kids, now I see their kids and they’re married. I’m very clear— professional in that area, changing behavior with kids and getting them to be their best self and bringing out their strengths and it’s just what I’ve done for 30 years.
Sometimes you work techniques, sometimes you work a lecture, sometimes you work it all together. Sometimes they get in the ring, and they spar and they got the lesson. It’s all about when the student’s ready, and then the teacher appears. Like, ‘how many times are you going to make that same mistake?’ You deal with everyone differently because everyone has different stuff in their way. But the point of Jolie’s Kids is social integration, age integration, economic integration. I love the community and I love everyone getting along. Nobody is mean in my environment. We have a community, we’re mission-driven.
Boxing humbles you. It’s the fastest psychology result you can get by getting punched in the face and humbled that way. The other day, I had a kid, he was working with someone and letting the other one hit him because he was working offense. Everyone was like ‘ooh you got hit’. He didn’t even talk trash he just said ‘oh yeah’ and let the other person feel good. You know when they get so humbled because they’re kind. They [the kids] know the best fighters are never angry. The best fighter doesn’t pick a fight. They know how to get in the eye of the needle and coast in the storm and that’s what life is all about. We live in a storm, have to ride the wave, and you have to ride the storm because life is a beautiful rainbow and sunshine at the same time.
Her Agenda: What is it like training professional athletes like NFL players? Is your coaching approach with them different since they have a fitness history?
Jolie Glassman: I always know who I’m speaking to; I always know the audience. There’s a lot of communication like modeling their behavior, using their words, getting in their world. You can’t expect to change someone when you don’t know what they want, who they are, or what they’re doing right.
So as a professional athlete what’s the goal here? If you’re a football player you’re not like wanting to be a boxer. ‘Oh you want to work hand speed, oh you want to work agility? Okay, so what do you do on the field? So you are on defense so you only move this way, right?’
I’m not gonna get them to do something else if that’s what he does. You have to work with what they want and then what their strengths are because you’re always moving towards a desirable goal. Everybody’s always different because of what they’re starting with and what their goal is. Your goal might be to be stronger, someone else’s goal might be to lose weight. But ultimately, your behavior in how you do everything is how you do— how you do one thing is how you do everything.
But it is a big challenge, what I’m working with. I have to be very strategic in creating openings, finding openings, because you can’t be a nag, you can’t push them [professional athletes]. They’re already at the highest level of their game. They’re already the top of their game in everything but they have this issue, and it’s not always solvable. It’s like an underlying childhood manifestation of a belief, it’s always a belief. Everything is a belief. Our stories run our show. It’s a dance. Everything’s a dance, it’s a chess game, it’s like ‘I hit you here, you hit me here, I move here, you move here, I do this, you do that.’ And then it’s ‘who am I being that gets you to do that’ right.
I want to generate you, I’m intentional, I want to create transformation so I’m not here to be their friend, I’m here with a commitment to deliver you the results you said you wanted. I get very intentional and deliver the results.
Her Agenda: I want to talk a little bit more about the business side of South Beach Boxing. Originally, you started the gym with your ex-husband. Can you describe any challenges you faced in your career having that joint business through a divorce?
Jolie Glassman: So many challenges. We had four gyms and my divorce was very dirty. There’s a lot of trials and tribulations. I always tell people to stay conscious and lead from your heart, and know what you’re after. You don’t want to fight to fight. Because then you’re either creating or destroying.
I went through September 11th being on South Beach where we lost a lot of sales because everything went down the tubes. That was like the biggest. Then there was another economic crash in 2008, which is when I also got divorced with four gyms so that was a mess. But I wanted to transform the world, so I had to transform myself.
I always say my biggest accomplishment in life was my divorce because it was very in the limelight, it was all over the place, so many gyms came out of it. I’m a girl owning a boxing gym. I had to really know my shit because who was going to listen to me 25 years ago? 25 years ago it was even more so, as a girl, “why are we going to listen to you?” It’s okay, your reputation precedes you. Then your character builds and things build momentum everywhere you go, and there you are.
But oh my god, a business can be ‘whew’. There are so many sides to business. The marketing, the teamwork, the hiring, the HR, your brand, your alignment with the brand, how you’re marketing, the sales, all of it.
Her Agenda: What were the pivot strategies you used at South Beach Boxing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jolie Glassman: I’m looking for 5-10 acres of land because I don’t like rules and I don’t like control. I don’t like hand sanitizer and all this alcohol. There’s a lot I don’t like. So bob and weave, right, find a solution. I’m looking for land because I want to culminate everything I do into something that’s a life project – that will satisfy me in my older age.
I’m looking for this magical space where I can have these retreats and camps. Sign on the dotted line and give me your kids and I’ll send them back in a week or I’ll send them back in three days or however long the term is depending on what the land can provide.
That’s why when people call me a coach, I’m a teacher. I love teaching. I really love guiding, putting the training wheels on and then releasing it and letting you know you are fine without me.
Her Agenda: How are you the hero of your own life?
Jolie Glassman: You are the primary character of your story. All I know is if I get one story to write I don’t want me, as the main character, being the loser that lost everything. You get to make up your character. Which character is more desirable? Which character do you apply for the part? Would you apply for the one that’s ‘rocked the house’ and really lived life? That had it their way and did everything, and came out strong and bobbed and weaved and lived like a boxer? Do you want the one that sank and drowned?
You are the hero of your own life otherwise, someone else is. My hero is me in 10 years. I’m chasing who am I gonna be at 50, who am I going to be at 60. I chase that.
In my book, it’s called, “Chasing The Perfect Punch.” I’m always chasing stronger, better, fitter, longer, faster, always— health-span, lifespan. I want health-span, not lifespan. Self-care is no joke. You have everything you need inside of you.