Interview with Steph Jones: Craft Brewer and Female Boxer

I met Steph Jones last year at the CrossFit Regionals in Portland, Oregon. Her and I were both volunteers and I was technically her boss. ūüėČ During the 12 hour long days at Regionals, I was fascinated by her strength, tenacity and her work ethic. Learning her total girl power story – I knew it was time to share her awesomeness with the world!

Fighter Photos 2017 (Photo Credit: Guy Roland)

Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up?
My name is Steph Jones.¬†I am a 27 year old aspiring craft brewer and wannabe¬†athlete from Vancouver, BC. I was born in Surrey, BC and have managed to spend the majority of life still¬†living there. I currently work for a brewery called Red Truck Beer; they are located in East Vancouver¬†alongside both¬†my¬†training facilities,¬†Raincity Athletics and¬†Eastside Boxing. I played rugby for 11 years before I had to stop due to chronic injury and transitioned first into weightlifting, then Crossfit and Olympic lifting. Growing up I was always doing something creative (sewing, baking, crafting, taking things apart and putting them back together, etc) and I was fascinated with making things by hand.¬†I grew up in a kitchen –¬†¬†I started my first job washing dishes at 14,¬†worked my way up¬†stations¬†cooking, and then eventually transitioned to¬†baking. Trade school was where I thrived. I was captivated by the concept of¬†spending time creating a dish/making something, to then¬†watch it be delivered to a customer and seeing their reaction to it, while they¬†simultaneously destroy/devour it –¬†some form of¬†temporary art, if you will.

AFG 2016 (Photo Credit: Guy Roland IG : @guy_rolado)

 How does the Pacific Northwest lifestyle inspire you?
Cascadia! I love the idea of sourcing locally and using what you¬†have around you, and that goes for so many aspects – PNW imbodies that. Being born here and staying relatively local, I’ve had the opportunity to check out a lot of this province’s beautiful outdoor and¬†indoor most sought-after spots; they can be¬†breathtaking – definitely IG worth, haha.¬†There are¬†many local,¬†undiscovered hidden gems in regards to places to eat, hike, observe, drink at, chill and explore that I haven’t been able to get to yet! I have an ever¬†growing list, of course.

Competing at a partner competition Nov 2017 (Photo Credit : @karenmcphotog)

You are a female in the boxing world. Tell us how you got into it and what it‚Äôs been like for you?I¬†first¬†got into boxing world through a¬†fundraising/training camp called Beer Wars in January of 2016, after someone suggested it to me. It was catered to people working in the beer industry (as opposed to Aprons for Gloves, that caters towards any individual working in an “apron” trade – think butchers, baristas, chefs, servers, hairdressers, etc). I was still playing rugby (pushing¬†11 years),¬†was just getting into Olympic lifting¬†and¬†learning about the world of Crossfit, so punching things didn’t sound too out of my frame of training.

After completing that training camp (they run for 3 months), I scored myself a fight on the big night in April 2016.¬†Getting the technique down, footwork patterns, head movements,¬†learning the basic punches, discovering what weight transfer is and trying to put it all together…that’s one thing. Now imagine you’re in the ring, headgear on, gloves tight, staring down your opponent in the corner¬†across from you – someone else who is in the exact same boat as you.

It was the most fun I’d ever have. The rush, the crowd, the lights, the fact that for three 2:00 minute rounds, you’re in the spotlight – it’s almost indescribable. I meshed with it and fed my adrenaline¬†drive. That being said – I lost my first fight…. and horribly mind you. TKO twenty¬†seconds into the third round. I got some ground work in but in the end couldn’t hold it together. I had learned so much about myself during those three months, pushed past physical and mental barriers that I never knew even existed, that the overall¬†end result honestly didn’t matter to me.

Today, I stand here five training camps later. FIVE. I know, right? Beer Wars (January to April)¬†2016 to 2018, and Aprons for Gloves (April to July) 2016-2017.¬†The head coach at Eastside suggested I keep on going with it when¬†I showed up at the gym a few days after the fight asking what was next, and I never looked back. I started taking my diet and training more seriously in July of 2017.¬†I walked into Eastside Boxing January 2016 at 220-ish¬†lbs,¬†and I will¬†fight April 8th, 2018¬†at 180 lbs. I’m still the heavy weight, which is a running joke around here.¬†All numbers aside,¬†I had never played an¬†individual sport before, so doing something individual like boxing¬†where only I had my own back was a huge eye-opener for me.

I think almost¬†everything in life (and also more specifically in regards to training for me personally), is about perspective. And not for solely for the outcome either, for the process. The struggle, the grind, the day to day hustle – that’s where the real magic happens and you really learn things.

AFG 2017 (Photo Credit: Guy Roland)

Who inspires you the most and why?
One of my rugby coaches in my later years, Dave Brown. He was the first coach to tell me that he believed in me and told me that I had potential to play better than I was at the time. He took the pressure off of performing (which was a huge problem for me), and ultimately got me to showcase my skills and and talents through unconventional ways. He taught me that there was more than one way of coming to the same end result, I just had to keep trying different ways to found what worked best for me. He changed my whole outlook and mindset on training.

Secondly, would be my current Crossfit/lifting coach, Liz Carrier. For¬†almost all the same reasons I mentioned above –¬†I had reservations about putting heavy weights on the bar, or pushing past certain barriers for risk of failure, and Liz was great about guiding and¬†pushing me through all of that. She helped me to realize that doing more work didn’t translate to better work, and in the end quality over quantity with consistency¬†is where results come from.

My 2018 Beer Wars matchup (Photo Credit: Guy Roland)

 Walk us through a typical day for you when preparing for a match?
A typical fight day for me starts out like most days – wake up, make coffee, have breakfast, do some light stretches and foam rolling while listening to my favorite jams. I keep my diet light until weigh-ins just to avoid any surprises. Typical boxing weigh-ins are about 2-4 hours before the first fights start. After I’ve been officially weighed in and checked out by the doctor, I fuel up, hydrate and chill out. My favorite things to do that keep me from thinking about the fight (until I’m supposed to) are simple things like going for a walk, taking a nap, writing in my journal, listening to music, reading, talking with friends, etc.

Once warm-up time comes and I’m dressed, wraps on and ready to go – I zone in on my task ahead and really think about my goals. I set three personal goals for myself to work on during my fight, this helps me from worrying about what my opponent might be doing, keeping any negative thoughts out and also keeps me grounded during the time I’m out there.

2017 AFG Fight vs Ali Bruce (Photo Credit: Guy Roland)

 So many people are intimidated to get into boxing. What do you want to tell them to ease their fears?
When you take a beginner’s class at my gym, you’re leaning the basics! How to wrap your hands, how to stand, weight transfer, and basic combinations on the pads or bags. There is no pressure to do anything other than your best,¬†I love the encouraging and supportive environment that the gym has.

Once you master the basics, there are many other classes you can try than will expand your experience and¬†knowledge. My favorite class is the women’s fighter training because we choose a skill for that class, break¬†it down and really learn how to utilize it best. I think boxing is all about having a solid foundation and basic¬†skill work to build on.

2017 AFG fighter photo outtake (Credit: Chris Zu)

What are some of your favorite workouts and why?
When I’m not boxing, you can find me in a Crossfit box or on a¬†weightlifting platform. My favorite workouts in general are tabata/interval/EMOM-style workouts, where you have the opportunity to work on skills and¬†technique without compromising integrity due to being fatigued. I also love working with barbells and focusing on my Olympic lifts (the clean and jerk, and snatch). My favorite programming for the week¬†has a variety of workouts to keep me challenged, and also includes¬†progressive de-load days where my body gets a chance to rest. Pushing boxing (high-intensity, lower weight, technique-forward, cardio-based training in 3:00 rounds) with barbell or Crossfit (explosive, heavier-weight, technique-forward, heavily varied, interval based training) can really take a toll on the body.¬†I’m a huge advocate for pre-hab/re-hab, mobility and warming up/cooling down properly; so I¬†always make sure to incorporate those into my daily routine.

2018 CrossFit Opens (Photo Credit: @athlete_inside)

¬†What are some charities and non-profits that are near and dear to your heart and why?Eastside¬†Boxing is the main charity that all my boxing fundraising goes towards – their¬†mission in the community is to improve lives and build community through boxing. By having a space that supports members and community involvement, participants in collaborative fundraising campaigns have the unique opportunity to see first-hand how their participation impacts their community (that’s me!). At Eastside this includes these social initiatives:¬†ESB after-school boxing program for at-risk youth and free self-defense series for female-identified, and all members of LGBTTQQ2S. Community-first based initiatives are really what drives this amazing non-profit. They also are expanding rapidly into more and more resources for youth and working with the city to expand their reach.¬†You can check them out at : http://eastsideboxingclub.com,¬†or google Beer Wars/Aprons for Gloves.

2018 CrossFit Opens (Photo Credit: @athlete_inside)

 Since this is What’s Up NW and we love giving shout outs to local businesses, tell us about your favorite place to eat, drink, and chill in the PNW and why?
Eat: Merchant’s Workshop: this place is simply home to me. Welcoming, warm and absolutely inviting. They have a large focus on being¬†local and sustainable,¬†new fresh sheets on the regular, pop-ups all over the city, and amazing beer pairing dinners. Their brunch is one of¬†my favorites in the city right now (their breakfast sandwich is AMAZING).

http://www.merchantsworkshop.ca/

IG: @merchantsvan

Drink coffee:¬†49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, which also happens to have a Lucky’s doughnuts in it (there are a few locations around Vancouver). Amazing coffee, amazing doughnuts. I love going here and sitting inside or outside on their heated patio. Did I mention that their coffee is roasted in the Pacific Northwest?

https://49thcoffee.com/

IG: @49th

Drink beer: In classic Vancouver fashion, I would suggest a self-led bike or walking¬†tour. There are tons of smaller breweries in the city that you can walk or bike to in a short time frame. There are also way too many for me to choose a favourite! Some are actually concentrated in areas and named, for example: “Brewery Creek” (that’s where Red Truck is!) and¬†“Yeast Van.” Pick up a copy of The Growler, do some research, and check it out!

https://bc.thegrowler.ca/

Chill: Two words: Hot Yoga. I’m a sucker for the heat and I would live in the infrared room if I could. Oxygen Yoga and Fitness is my usual go-to. They have a deep stretch and relaxation class that I adore, and luckily have locations all over the place for a convenient visit.

https://oxygenyogaandfitness.com/

2018 CrossFit Opens (Photo Credit: @athlete_inside)

Where do you want to see yourself in the future?
I have aspirations to do big things in the beer industry. I’m about three years in¬†now and have found a great passion within¬†me, I want to continue to grow, experiment,¬†learn and see where that takes me. I additionally have big goals for myself in regards to training – stepping on an Olympic lifting platform to compete locally within the next year or so. Pushing my Crossfit training and taking on some bigger intermediate competitions are in the plans. I document a lot of my training adventures on my Instagram (@stphjonez), and have high hopes to start a blog up very soon that will dive into my fitness journey.

Me at Red Truck (selfie!)

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