From Wall Street to a ring: How the founder of Shadowbox made a career risk work

The feeling of needing to move your body around and let’s just be honest, punch something repeatedly after a long day at a high-pressure job is something many of us can relate to. That is how Daniel Glazer, once a busy New York City trader and now the CEO and Founder of boutique fitness boxing studio Shadowbox, released his stress after a long day of work (with a punching bag at a gym that is.) But instead of returning to his desk, he saw an opportunity to give other people that same release.

“I saw an opportunity to share the benefits of boxing with others who were just like me — overworked, looking for an outlet, but maybe less likely to walk into an intimidating fight club. I became dedicated to creating an experience that was approachable and elicited an emotional response, but didn’t endanger the authenticity of boxing,” Glazer told Ladders.

However, his timing for quitting his steady, lucrative job to start a boxing gym was not the best. He made his decision to start Shadowbox a week before his wife told him she was pregnant with their second child. But then again, when making a career pivot, timing may never be right.

Hook, jab, start a new career

“When she dropped the news, my first thought was ‘Well there goes that idea!’ But it’s a huge credit to my wife Jessie that she supported everything without hesitation. Others tended to scratch their heads at first. Once we opened the first Shadowbox studio in May 2015, people could touch and feel the idea for the first time, and things really started happening after that,” he said.

And they have kept happening since opening the first Shadowbox in 2015. The company currently has two studios (one in New York’s Flatiron and one in Dumbo) and will soon be expanding to Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles and Dallas, in addition to its next studio in Tribeca.

Though plenty of competitors entered the mix (Rumble, Box & Flow, Dogpound) Shadowbox has flourished (it brought in $3 million in 2017 according to Forbes, allowing for this upcoming major expansion.) “We make boxing a meditative, sweat-dripping experience that focuses on cardio and body-weight. It’s massively cathartic. There’s a unique demand right now for exercises that are both mentally and physically rewarding. Boxing is the tip of the spear leading the fitness industry of yesteryear into the much larger wellness industry of tomorrow.”

No more boys club

The brand’s success is also due to Glazer tapping into an underserved audience in this space and catering to them.

“We’ve put a focus on creating and fostering an inclusive environment for everyone of all genders, and women seem to resonate with Shadowbox because it’s an environment separate from the boys club that boxing once was. This is hands down the topic from which I glean the most pride, as we were promoting gender and pay equality before the movement really became part of modern vernacular. Nowadays, if you aren’t doing this — you’re a dinosaur.”

Shadowbox proactively hires women for top corporate positions as well as for training positions like Creative Director Annah Kessler, Glazer noted. When you walk in a studio it also just feels so much more welcoming with its white walls and gloves (perfectly Instagrammable, a requirement for any popular workout these days) than your stereotypical boxing gym image from every movie which, let’s face it, had no women, a bunch of old angry guys in sweatshirts and one ceiling fan with a light. Shadowbox also has candlelit boxing classes and sometimes holds classes at trendy boutique hotels like the William Vale.

“Shadowbox stands apart by always striving to be an inclusive and approachable environment. We truly encourage people of all fitness levels to join the movement. We’re also unique in the fitness and especially the boxing world for offering a meditative experience and a focus on overall wellness: physical and mental,” Glazer told Ladders.

As for taking a major career risk with a pivot focus like this Glazer says, “My advice would be it’s never too late to do what you’re passionate about, and there’s always a way to make a business out of doing something you love.” And if a lot of stress comes along with it or any job he says, “Spending time with my wife and kids is my favorite outlet. Seeing life through a kid’s eyes is a great way to find the absurd in any seemingly important matter.”

And if that doesn’t work, “Punching the sh*t out of a heavy bag is a close second.”