Dwayne Rowsell on Boxing, Fitness and Community

Imagery by @alexmcv

As a continued celebration of our newest launch, Washup All-Over, we met with Dwayne Rowsell who co-founded the revolutionary group fitness studio, Studio Box. With a passion for transforming lives and a keen eye for experiential fitness, Dwayne has reshaped how many approach exercise, turning it into a welcoming and community-driven journey. We caught up with Dwayne to chat about movement and motivation.

Tell us about yourself and what led you to make fitness your profession.

I’ve always been into sports and played hockey for the Black Sticks after finishing high school. Along the way I somehow found myself competing in a charity boxing fight - another three fights later I’d found a love for boxing and the mental and physical benefits I felt when I boxed.

When I was travelling through the US I noticed an emerging trend of boxing as fitness rather than fighting. I was blown away as I hadn’t really seen that aspect in New Zealand yet. I wanted to bring that back with me, taking boxing out of a grungey garage and into something more premium. Less about intimidation and more inspiring. I wanted to introduce boxing to a new audience, and create a welcoming and safe environment at the same time.
That’s basically what sparked the idea to start Studio Box, which we opened in 2019 in Newmarket. We’ve since expanded and opened another studio in Auckland CBD in 2021.

I’ve always had a passion for fitness and since day one I’ve been on the floor teaching classes, and I still am today. It keeps me at the heart of the business and allows me to connect with our community. We’ve built a business that is hugely intimate and emotional, where people show up to try and better themselves, and they’ve put that trust in us by coming to Studio Box as part of their journey.

How would you define your instructor style?

Studio Box classes are only 45 minutes so I encourage everyone to give it heaps. I keep it high energy with music and push everyone to give it their all for just 45 minutes of their day.

What does your daily fitness routine look like?

Typically I’ll do a Studio Box class or some kind of strength work, or I’ll be teaching a couple of classes. I’ll always have a cold shower in the morning and a sauna. And somewhere in the day I’ll fit in walking my dog Gigi.

What advice do you give people just starting their fitness journey? Or perhaps struggling with discipline?

The hardest part is showing up. Take it one day at a time. It’s amazing what you can achieve over a long period of time with daily input, even if that is super small to begin with. Consistent efforts over the long term will far outweigh short and sharp inconsistency.

As an advocate for movement, how do you promote diversity and inclusivity within the industry, ensuring everyone feels welcome and represented?

We operate with the mindset that it’s about showing up, not showing off. We’ve made little touches that we hope break down any barriers - you’re welcomed by our team at the front desk by your first name. We make sure that everything you need to work out is already here. Hair ties, feminine products, sweat towels, boxing gloves, water bottles - you can come with nothing and just show up.
There are no levels to the classes at Studio Box, the focus is all around personal ability. Our community is diverse in so many ways as our classes cater to a huge range of people of all abilities, fitness levels, age - at the moment our age range is 13-72.

Instructors often motivate and inspire their clients with powerful mantras or quotes. Do you have a personal mantra?

It’s not 45 mins of punishment, it’s empowerment. I really dislike the view that people workout as a punishment to their bodies. I’m all for the mindset that working out or fitness of any sort can offer us an incredible, strong feeling of empowerment.

Quick fire Q's

Name a scent that invokes a special memory?

Woodsmoke is a scent that brings back memories of Summer camping trips, backyard barbecues, and bonfires on the beach.

A daily ritual you can’t live without?

My morning and evening skincare routine.

Favourite dish and where would you like to eat it?

Can’t go past a Prego pie in winter.

What’s your favourite space in your home?


Your most-loved Ashley & Co. scent?

Tui & Kahili