Belly of the Beast – Boxing

Like this, but a little leaner and with less hair.

Like this, but a little leaner and with less hair.

Last night I had a fantastic experience at boxing. To explain it, I’m going to have to give you a little backstory, so bear with me. First, my regular boxing instructor (who I call TI on this blog) is on vacation this week. I’ll call the fill-in instructor “Kurt”, because he reminds me of Kurt Sutter of “Sons of Anarchy,” minus the ponytail. It’s been an interesting change. TI favors rap music for our work-outs, Kurt likes classic heavy rock (Motley Crüe, Guns and Roses), both are tough, and both work us hard. Their work outs are fundamentally the same, but with slight variations – variations which have been leaving me a whole new set of sore muscles the next day.

The class is set up in circuits. You pick a partner and then one person works combinations on the heavy bag and the other does floor work, after a one minute or two minute round, you switch. The heavy bags are set up in an “L” shape around the room. All of the boxing regulars, of which I am proud to be a new member of, have their preferred bags. The bags do have slight variations, but I think it is more about habit. You just get used to working out in a certain area. My spot of choice is along the long side of the L near the corner. Last night I got in as usual, headed for my regular corner, picked a partner and started warming up.

As we moved into the full workout, Kurt asked me if I would be willing to switch. We had a full class that night and he thought the class had split unevenly. He asked me to move me to another bag over on the short side of the L. I, of course, agreed. On that side of the studio, there are three heavy bags close together. I had the center bag. On either side were two gentlemen I’ll call Adam and Jim. I see them both at class a lot. They are both big guys – they tower over me. They are obviously good friends, and for some reason I think they were (or are) roommates. They both work out hard – especially Jim; Adam has a back injury so he is taking it a little slower these day, but both are powerhouses.

The first combination was an easy warm up – Jab, Cross, Uppercut, Uppercut. Jim, Adam and I quickly fell into the same rhythm. They throw harder hits than I normally do, but the sound of us all hitting the bags at the exact same time made me hit harder – and faster. You know how a low bass can make your sternum jump? The sound of us hitting in sync did that to me… but at the same time, I was part of what was making the noise. It was so powerful! I couldn’t stop grinning.

It didn’t happen every round, but a lot of times it did. When we got into the harder combinations, there were times that it sounded like being inside a cannon. The bags are so close together that when we were doing hooks, our gloves would brush one another’s. Jim kept having to step to the right and Adam to the left and I had to keep my shoulders a bit tighter to keep from hitting each other. At one point, Kurt, the instructor, came over behind us and yelled “It sounds like thunder over here!” It did. He was obviously delighted – so was I.

Kurt also likes to jump behind the bag and hold it while giving you tips on form or shouting encouragement. (Think of any coach in any boxing movie… like that.) He came over and said, “I want to get back there and encourage you guys, but I am pretty sure I would get hit!” That was a compliment – and it’s true, he might have. When we were synced up, it was awesome.

I worked so hard last night. For most of the combinations, they were pushing me to hit harder, faster and to keep going, even when I was tired. On the other hand, I am smaller and lighter and I know during some of the speed rounds, I was pushing them. At one point I laughed and said “Shoooooot that is fun!!) (Yes, I actually said, “shoot.” I was being dainty while boxing my guts out. ha!)

The guys laughed at me. They probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal. They work out on those bags all the time, and I have to think that anyone between them would fall into their rhythm, I don’t see how you could avoid it. But I am not used to working out with other people. It was like a team sport – something I have absolutely no experience with. For the first time, I understood the appeal a bit. When everything is flowing right, everyone wins.

After the class, Kurt came up to me and said, “Way to sweat! Good job over there!” I was pleased as punch. As a person who grew up hating sports and not understanding the appeal of a gym, I have to say, I never thought I would view “Way to sweat” as a compliment, but it was and I took it as such!

And I’ll tell you what, if I get the chance to get that bag again, you better believe I will!

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My Gloves Are Getting a Beating

oh dear...

oh dear…

This is a photo of my boxing gloves. See that tear? Yep, I am pretty much wearing these through. I’ve had them only since, what? June, I think.

I’m going to just tape them up a bit and keep going. Maybe I’ll ask for a new pair for Christmas. 🙂

I am not sure why boxing makes me ridiculously giddy but the idea of a kickboxing class leaves me cold. Maybe because I can learn to throw a pretty good punch, but I can’t seem to kick my leg more than 8″ off the ground? That might have something to do with it! In fact, even in boxing we have rotations that occasionally involve doing switch kicks. I love that there are a couple of theatre/dancer types in my class who manage to throw in a few jazz hands now and again. Me? I just curse my way through ’em.

I am getting better at other things, though. I’m getting better at remembering combinations at the bag, (although I still chant to myself “straight, jab, jab, hook, up, hook, hook, hook, hook” and so forth.) and I am definitely getting better at the ab floor exercises. So who knows? I am determined to be open to anything, maybe I’ll stop into the kickboxing class one of these nights. (You know, if there isn’t a boxing class scheduled instead!)

Making it Work – Roof Rack Love

Guess who bought herself a new present?roof rack

This is my new roof rack. It can hold a bike and a kayak! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Last summer a friend gave me a bike, and while I loved riding it, it was difficult to take places without a rack. I could put it in my hatchback and leave the back open, but that just didn’t seem very safe. On top of that, there are some great riding trails up by my cabin, but if I took my bike, I couldn’t take my dog. (I am not going to attempt to transport my dog in a car with an open hatch. He’d probably be fine, but I am not taking that risk.)

Likewise, I have a kayak at my cabin. However, it’s 10 feet long – it definitely won’t fit inside my car. And while I enjoy paddling around the lake by my cabin, I’ve been itching to take it elsewhere – even just down the road a half a mile to a pretty woodland inland lake.

So, I had a bike at the house I wanted to bring to the cabin and a kayak at the cabin I wanted to bring home occasionally, and this week, I made it all possible! Hooray!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fitness goals. I’m doing a lot of things that at first glance seem pretty different: yoga, strength training, boxing, walking, running, biking, kayaking… and so on. Really, anything that catches my eye is fair game. So, what am I trying to do?

1) I’m looking to find fitness that is fun for me. I was at boxing class the other night and chatting with an older fella that always seems to be there. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Oh, you know… I’m unmotivated. I always feel that way before class. But, (siiiighhhhh,) I make myself get out and do it…” He was the Eeyore of boxing. I thought, “What the heck? Someone actually dreads this class? This class is awesome!” Of course I realize it isn’t for everyone, but then why come? Why not do something else?

If I am going to stay active for the next 40 – 50 years, I am going to do it by finding things that are fun for me. Even running, (which is probably my least favorite of all the stuff I do,) has benefits I love. I make it even better by running in parks and beautiful places. It may not be my forte’, but I never dread it.

2) I want to be a superhero. That is the best way I have of describing it. I want a whole bag of tricks at my disposal. I want to be strong, but also able to run. I want to be able to throw a punch, and also twirl a hoop. Actually, Steve at Nerd Fitness wrote a great post that totally fits in with how I feel: Becoming AntiFragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos.

3) I’m still figuring stuff out. Up until one year ago, I would have laughed if you had told me that I’d be running or working out at fitness studio. I’m still figuring out what this new life is all about. The more things I try and say “Yes” to, the more I learn about myself. It’s a good place to be.

First Boxing Class!

gloves

These beauties are all mine.

“So, where are your gloves?” Bob, the friendly older gent sitting next to me on the concrete step asked. “Are they in your purse?”

“Noooooooo….” I said cautiously, “I thought this was the beginner’s class. Online it said you could borrow gloves for the first class.”

Bob and Carmen looked at each other. The three of us were sitting outside the gym waiting for the instructor. Bob slowly shook his head, and this is how I found out I had made a mistake. I thought Beginning Boxing was taught every Sunday. Nope. It is taught every other Sunday; this was a regular class. Bob looked me over, “You look like you are pretty fit. I am sure you will be fine.” Carmen looked like she had her doubts.

Then Joe walked up. I actually know Joe – he was on a freelance job I worked last summer. We reintroduced ourselves. As he shook hands with the others, I looked him over. Joe has huge shoulders and is built like a policeman, or a firefighter. I suddenly had the feeling that this was not going to be an easy class.

Then Joe and Carmen started talking about the instructor. (Hereafter known as: TI) “Hey,” she said, “you didn’t come out for his fight.” Joe shrugged and said something about getting busy and losing track of time. “He won,” she said, “but I think TI took it easy on the guy. They had a practice bout last week and he broke the guy’s nose. I think he felt bad.” Before I had a chance to think about that, TI appeared. He was a fairly normal fit looking guy. (I later found out he is a machine.) He waved and ushered us in.

I quickly went over and explained the situation. “Have you taken boxing before?” I shook my head. He explained that I really should take the Intro class first, so if I wanted to come back… I felt panicky. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Maybe he saw something in my eyes, “Or you can give this a try and do what you can. It’s a small enough class that it would be okay. Normally this class is packed, but since it is Father’s Day, we’re pretty light.” I agreed, and he handed me a package of wrist wraps and some gloves. The wraps I would have to buy, the gloves I could borrow. TI quickly wrapped my wrists, explaining what he was doing while the rest of the class got ready.

The class was a mix of men and women. They were a motley group, some looked like they worked out a lot, others not as much. I had somehow gotten the impression that this type of boxing would be mostly women, probably because the two people I knew took it were women and from some disparaging comments made by a MMA fighter I talked to last fall. I like coed groups – they don’t trigger high school flashbacks like all-women groups do. Some in this group looked really tough, and I liked that too. I’d like to look like that myself someday.

Then we went and got the jump ropes… Let me just say right now, this class was far, far harder than I had imagined. We did circuits – one minute of floor work followed by one minute at the bag. The boxing portions were okay. I mainly focused on how to hold my body, how to do each move and remembering the sequences. I didn’t worry about how hard I hit or how fast. (A guy next to me was fairly slow but he hit the bag with a staggering amount of power. I did my best to ignore him.) The floor work though… Lord, the floor work.

Carmen ended up being my partner. While she was at the bag, I was on the floor and then we’d switch. In between she’d give me little bits of advice whenever she could, but before long we were both just panting and nodding to each other as we passed. TI would do a sequence at the bag and then hop down on the floor to show us what to do there. Each time I felt my face move into an expression of “You want me to do what??” A couple times Carmen caught it and laughed. But when it was my turn I gamely got on the floor with a big determined grin on my face and did my best.

I have to say, TI was awesome. He checked in on me regularly and helped me with everything. “Doing okay?” “Hanging in there?” He asked early on how I had heard about the place and I had told him a friend sent me. At one point he got down on the floor to help me with something and he quipped, “Still like your friend?”

I laughed, “Mostly!”

There was only one point, maybe midway in, when I thought “I am not going to make it.” I felt hot and sweaty and a little weak in the knees. Fortunately a moment later TI called break and I had a chance to catch my breath. After that, I was good to go. By “good to go” I do not in any way mean I was able to complete each set. I did what I could do, and by the end, I’ll admit, I rested more than I moved, but I gave it everything I had and then some. I haven’t tried that hard at anything in a long time. Even though there was a lot I couldn’t do, I still felt pretty good, and when TI came over and fist bumped my glove, I almost teared up a little in pride.

At the end of class Bob walked over. “Well, you didn’t puke, and you didn’t pass out. I think you should come back!” He chuckled a little and then said, “Although, by those rules I don’t know why they let me back.”

I will definitely be back. In fact, I went ahead and bought my first set of gloves.

 

Giving it a Try

By Lara CoresI am taking my own words to heart from my post yesterday and celebrating what I can do now:

My first boxing class is Sunday!

Sunday!

Obviously, I am a little excited about it. I’m a little nervous too – first day of school and all. I’m really hoping I like it as much as I think I will.

If not, there are other options. I just saw a local Crossfit gym running a special for a free month of unlimited classes, and it looks pretty interesting. There is a rock climbing gym that has caught my eye, and I would love to take some more hooping classes too.

…when did I become this girl?

My boyfriend and I recently had a discussion on how losing weight has opened up new worlds for me. Not that long ago, I would have politely declined any invitation that had to do with the word “gym.” Now I am bookmarking local gym websites and trying to decide if trying two new places at once is all that bad of an idea. (I decided it was.) In truth, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do these things before, it was that I wouldn’t. My way of accepting my body previously was to be very, “this is who I am.” I don’t exercise, I don’t own a scale, I don’t go out in the sun, I don’t play sports, I don’t dance… and so on. And all of those things were true. However, as I changed my body, I started trying new things. What if I try running? What if I take a hoop dance fitness class? What if I try lifting weights? It isn’t that I am changing who I am, it is that I am opening up more doors and seeing what’s behind them.

I’ve thrown out a lot of the “don’ts” and replaced them with, “I’ll give it a try!”

 Photo credit: Lara Cores on flickr

 

You Are Not Alone

SunriseIt’s interesting what happens when you talk about your problems. It doesn’t take long before you find out you aren’t alone. I talked to a friend about my anxiety and setting up an appointment with my physician to get some help, and wouldn’t you know – they are going through almost the exact same thing. The reasons are different, but the feelings are very similar. The same thing happened when I went through a rough patch following my divorce a few years back. I made the decision to be open about how I was struggling with the whole thing – financially and emotionally. I was amazed at the outpouring of support and the number of people who came to talk to me privately and to say, “I’m going through something similar…”

Truthfully, I already feel a tinsie bit better. Just making the appointment helped. Talking to my friend also really helped. Plus Julian and I took a vacation day recently and actually relaxed. (So often I use my vacation time for things other than vacationing.) We spent time in our state’s beautiful parks, we grilled food, we looked at the water, we even took naps. It was perfect. And I did something else that makes me happy:

I signed up for a boxing class!

I’ve been wanting to learn how to box for awhile. I have some of the equipment and a lovely heavy bag, but I’ve wanted some actual training. I found out recently that a local fitness center has a boxing classes and heard two glowing reviews about the place, (one from one of my friends who does not mince words when she doesn’t like something!) The Center had a Groupon for 50% off drop-in classes recently so I can check it out with a minimum of risk. You have to take their basic boxing training class before you can go to the regular classes, so I signed up for one on the 15th!

I also have a friend who is teaching some hooping classes. I would love to figure out how to get to those as well. I just need to figure out if I can make the times work.

I’m hoping some of the changes I am choosing to make will help. I feel like part of my life is in a rut and I don’t know how to get out. Actually, take that back – I know exactly how to get out, I just don’t have the energy, motivation or confidence I need right now. Hopefully, however, I am on the right track of getting it all back.

 

 

Birthday Boxing

Guess what I got for my birthday?Thanks by Maxim Pierre

A Heavy Bag!!

My awesome best gal Cee got it for me! How cool is that?

I haven’t got it mounted, and I am going to need to get gloves and some training, but I am so excited! Julian already owns a speed bag, so I envision the basement of my house becoming a mini gym soon. (Although I have the weight lifting equipment in the middle of the living room. Yes, I’ve become that gal.)

It’s more than an awesome gift though, I says something about how my friends see me. It also shows that they support the woman I have become over the past 9 months. It’s been a big change. When Cee got me that bag, it wasn’t just about me wanting to learn to box, it also said, “I love you and I support what you are doing.”

I tell you, I have fantastic friends!

Birthday cake by Paul Downey

Photo credit: Thanks by Maxim Pierre
Photo credit: Birthday Cake by Paul Downey