Find Your Form | Prevail Los Angeles
WRITTEN BY: JAKE PALUMBO | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: TASO PAPADAKIS
I walked right past Prevail the first time I went looking for it. I ended up dumbly standing on the corner of West 3rd Street in front of a Coffee Bean. The afternoon screenwriter crowd eyeballed me over their chai lattes through the window, probably wondering how a dumb tourist got so lost on the way to The Grove. I doubled back carefully, checking the numbers until I made sure I was at 5957 West 3rd. As I stood in front of the unmarked, whitewashed single story building, I remember thinking, this is totally what a boxing gym should look like.
Inside, I found Milan Costich sitting on a white leather couch in the gym’s lobby, which looked more like the lobby of a chic hair salon than a gym. The polished hardwood floors gave way to whitewashed walls that looked as if a street artist with a penchant for symmetry and minimalism had doodled upon them in sharpie.
In Prevail’s back room, a punching bag lined, industrial open space with rubberized floors and exposed brick, classes of 16 or less take place across three levels of difficulty: beginner, intermediate and advanced. In a single, rigorous 45-minute class, members are challenged with a combination of mobility, conditioning and boxing exercises that promise to burn nearly 750 calories per session. Milan is careful to create a supportive, inclusive environment for anyone who participates. It doesn’t matter if you’ve come to be introduced to the sport of boxing or are just looking for a fun and challenging new way to get in shape. Milan opened Prevail as an extension of his favorite form of self-expression and as a means to share that passion with as many people as possible. For anyone wondering if they have the eye of the tiger in them, Prevail might be the perfect place to find out.
Q: So how did you get started down this road?
Milan Costich: I started martial arts when I was four. My dad was a boxer, so as soon as I expressed any interest in combat sports, my dad was all for it. I set my life path when I was four. I did Karate and Tae Kwon Do. I competed in the Junior Olympics. Around 17, I went through a bad injury where I couldn’t kick anymore. I decided to try boxing. When I was 18, I started boxing. Boxing helped my martial arts so much that I continued to do both. I’ve been doing it for so long that it just became a part of me. I’m 34 now, so I’ve been doing combat sports for 30 years, which is a long time to be doing one thing.
Q: Did your martial arts training help you in boxing?
MC: Absolutely. In Olympic-style Tae Kwon Doe, the competitions are based on a point system, which is more like who can score the first point— like tag. It wasn’t necessarily the tougher fighter that won like in boxing or kickboxing, but it was the one with the fastest reflexes. It’s a speed game. And it was very advantageous coming from that into a full contact sport. In a full contact sport, people are so consumed with power and hitting you hard that they give off these huge telegraphs. In Karate, I was trained to look for those telegraphs because you only have a split second to react or explore it.
Q: Did you compete in boxing?
MC: I actually didn’t compete in boxing. I competed in kickboxing. It was more in my comfort zone because I already had so much experience in kicking sports. I originally competed in Tae Kwan Doe, which is 80 percent kicking.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in martial arts or boxing?
MC: Not really. I was a media production major in college. I trained at a competitive gym with a lot of competitive guys. I saw some of the older guys who were at the end of it, around 40, slurring their words and not doing any profession that I was aspiring for. Also around that time, I was coming to the realization that I loved film and story telling and that I loved combat sports because it was my way of expressing myself authentically. I always kept it up, but I started to focus more on film, which is what brought me out to LA. I worked at a talent agency and a couple production companies. After a couple years, I was still training martial arts. Of working in production, I realized that the way the industry operates was so far removed from the artistic expression I was initially coming out for. And I was looking at the people who had the jobs that I was working towards and didn’t see the fulfillment or the happiness I wanted for my life. I didn’t see the autonomy I wanted for my life. So I quit. I had no job to go to.
Q: So what did you do?
MC: All I knew was that I wanted to do something that I was passionate about. Something that would impact people in a positive manner and that I could have a significant impact on, so I started just doing anything that I thought would interest me.
Q: How did that lead back to boxing?
MC: One day I ran into a former coworker randomly at a birthday party, and he said to me, “You know I’ve always wanted to box. Would you consider training me?” He was the one who gave me my first job, so I thought since he gave me a shot, maybe I should return the favor. Begrudgingly, we started training together. And that was just one of the seven things I was doing at the time. I didn’t have any expectations. The guy I was training lost around 30 pounds, and he was feeling really good. It was a rewarding experience. Eventually, he said he wanted to train for a fight, so we did a three-month training camp. He went, and he fought and he won. After that, a lot of people started asking me to train them.
Q: Is that when you started training full time?
MC: This was a time in my life when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. When it came to the training, I was enjoying the fact that I was making a direct impact on people but I wasn’t enjoying that I was providing a service. If I didn’t show up or if I wasn’t available, Icouldn’t do anything for them. I started to shift my focus to thinking about how I could make this impact on as many people as possible. I realized that I had to create a product somehow. That product is the program I created that Prevail is. I took a small group of six people, and they were my guinea pigs for the next year and a half. I used them to develop my curriculum, and it’s a ten-week curriculum that I keep tweaking and refining each time I go through it.
Q: Do you lead any of the classes?
MC: Sometimes, but I wanted to shift away from the service to a product when things started to get moving with this. And we still service people here, but I’m creating a product. The program is the product and Prevail is the brand. What I focus on is improving the curriculum. We’re constantly improving it. Now we’re in a place where I know it’s really good, but it’s not done yet. The secret sauce is not done yet. But what I do now is better than any other boxing program for fitness that I’ve come across.
Q: So can you talk about that program a little bit?
MC: Originally, I wanted to mimic a boxing match, but what I came to realize is that most people have too short of an attention span for that. People want instant gratification and doing three minutes of one thing was losing people’s attention. I wasn’t training people to become elite fighters. LA already has gyms that are famous for that. I wanted to create a program that teaches boxing fundamentals, but package it in a way that’s fast paced; that’s focused on fun and overall fitness. As time went on, I changed the program from three-minute rounds with one- minute breaks to a 45-minute class. You’ll burn anywhere from 500- 750 calories, and it’ll go by in the blink of an eye. The most common thing I hear after people’s first class is if it’s over. It’s nonstop. You go from one thing to the next.
Q: I guess I was kind of expecting to see a ring in here?
MC: We want to make this place inviting. That’s why I don’t have a boxing ring. The ring intimidates a lot of people, and when they come in, they think it’s not for them. Also, I can say of the people who say they want to start to box and train to get into the ring for the first time, about ten percent box twice. Most people box once and take that first punch to the face and decide it’s not for them. So from a business standpoint, and also from the standpoint of wanting to enrich people’s lives and wanting to do it on a big scale, the fighting element doesn’t really fit. I don’t want people to have to worry about whether or not they’re sparring or willing to fight.
Q: Now that it’s your job to motivate others, how do you keep yourself motivated?
MC: I think it’s a combination of having a lot of love for the people that train here and wanting to be a good example for them. Naturally, I am always looking at myself to see how I can improve. I think I’m just wired that way. I’m constantly trying to surround myself with people that inspire me. Outside of here, I have about four or five people who are mentors who inspire me, and they’re either excellent in business or excellent in their sport.
CLASS LEVEL DESCRIPTIONS:
1. BEGINNER: Introduces fundamental exercises and boxing techniques. The focus of this class is to develop a solid foundation for the Prevail workouts.
2. INTERMEDIATE: Introduces new exercises to further develop conditioning, core strength, explosiveness and boxing technique. Participants will expand on a thorough knowledge of boxing technique and exercises.
3. ADVANCED: Boxing drills that expand past technique and focus on strategy as well as strenuous conditioning. This class is designed for students who have been training with us consistently for 6+ months and is perfect for those interested in being more physically and mentally challenged.
PREVAIL LOS ANGELES
5957 W 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90036