Friday, May 2, 2014

Floating Like a Butterfly

I know I owe a race report, and it's coming, I promise.

But I had my first boxing lesson on Tuesday and I had to write about it.

Some background: Our gym offers small-group 4-week personal training sessions for an additional cost. The Dude asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I have a hard time not asking for practical gifts but thought that this year I should ask for something that would really be a treat. When I looked up the class offerings boxing was the one that stood out for me, and May was the month where it best worked out for both my weekly schedule and my training plans.

Some more background: Many years ago I studied Indonesian Kung Fu for a couple of years. I loved it, and had hoped to continue with it when I moved to Chicago, but for a number of reasons that wasn't possible.

So, cut to Tuesday. I was so excited, and so nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I had so many emotions... so I knew this meant a lot to me. Didn't know why. Still don't, exactly.

Class Description:

It was just the trainer (Carlos), and one other woman, clearly experienced. It was circuit based, so we spent the same amount of time on each of the components, but not both of us on the same component at the same time:

  • Jumping rope (single-foot and both feet together);
  • Working with Carlos as he wore pads for us to hit and called out punches;
  • Working with the double-end bag (this is small and is attached by flexible cables to both the ceiling and the floor - we were supposed to throw light and work on form);
  • Working with the heavy bag (for strength);
  • Shadow-boxing (against our reflection in the mirror);

And then after going through several rounds of the circuit we ended with a speedwork and strength drill, meant to wear us out thoroughly and mimic how we might feel after many rounds in the ring.

With each turn through the circuit Carlos gave more instruction and added new components, such as dodging blows.

All his instructions were based on what we might experience in an actual fight, and it all made sense. A lot more sense then I was expecting, really, my limited sparring experience from kung fu came back to me quickly. But enhanced by what I've learned in the meantime about body mechanics, movement efficiency, race technique, training practices, etc. And enhanced by a fierceness that I did not have fifteen years ago - or at least was not willing to let out back then. And certainly an increased sense of fearlessness.

It was fascinating to listen in on his instruction to the other woman, who was getting ready to visit another gym this weekend and who is planning to fight. And really, it didn't sound all that different from the instruction he was giving me, just more advanced.


Three days later and I'm still on a high from class. Though boy howdy, was I sore yesterday (delayed onset muscle soreness). I had to go swimming today, slowly, just to feel I was knitting my body back together.

There was something incredibly intoxicating about working on the combination of skill, form, and power in what we were practicing. Similar to what I've learned in running, but heightened. I have three more weeks in this round and I'm looking forward to them - I suspect there may be more in the future.

And I feel there may be a lot more emotional "unpacking" I need to do for myself over those weeks...

But for starters, I need an adult-size jump rope for practicing at home. Kept tripping myself up on the kiddie ones!



  1. That sounds really fun...Maybe I should try boxing. I've always been pretty intrigued by kickboxing!

  2. For some reason (maybe because it's 5am) the line: "Many years ago I studied Indonesian Kung Fu for a couple of years," made me laugh out loud. That is so awesome. I've always envied boxing people for their upper bodies. That sounds like a really fun way to cross-train and get in some (literally) kick-ass core work!!

  3. I am terribly coordinated and haven't ever done well with boxing. But, I definitely get how much fun it can be to cross train with an activity that's new or one that your body hasn't experienced in many years. I'd be sore for a week - and only then be ready to go for a slow swim. ;)