Friday, June 6, 2014

Out in the Open

I wrote after the recent holiday weekend how I had to change my plans for training that week around. Pretty much the story of all my serious athletic endeavor (excepting one period in my life I'll come back to later) has been like that, because it all has been after becoming a mom. And, you know, things happen. Your life is no longer your own.

Which, for me, is a very good thing. And in some very surprising ways.

So, after that intense holiday weekend I decided to take it easy on my Tuesday run, so that I would be more refreshed in the evening for my boxing class. Good thing, too, because it ended up being a private lesson. Talk about intense. And I got to ask my questions, one of which was what I should work on in practice between classes.

And then last Friday, I went to the back room of the gym, and I practiced.

And then I did it again yesterday.

I don't know if I can sufficiently convey to you the importance of this to me. The back room of our gym is an open space. There's a rowing machine and some bikes against one wall, a mirror the length of one wall, a cabinet with audio/visual equipment in one corner, and then one wall has an assortment of various gym equipment. Jump ropes, kettle bells, stability balls, slider pads, yoga mats, other stuff I haven't paid too much attention to. Mostly in the past I come in there to row and maybe to stretch a bit. Other people come in there to work on drills or fitness exercises, by themselves or with a personal trainer. So it's a place where people come to do private stuff (no classes) - but it's a wide open space, and the mirror means everyone can see everything that is going on.

So that's where I practiced. I started by rowing for 5 minutes, then jumped rope, then worked on my footwork, then on combinations. No bags there so I couldn't really hit, and I felt way too self conscious to really shadowbox. But I could work on technique, making sure I kept my head down and hands up, that I didn't cross my feet over each other, to lean in when I ducked and not too far when I slid. When I didn't know what to do or felt too stupid doing what I was, I jumped rope until I regained my composure and decided what to work on. I did this for twenty minutes and then rowed for another five.

And sure enough, people came in while I was practicing, and left, and new people came in. And they had their thoughts about what I was doing, or didn't (I always have thoughts about what I see people doing in there, though they're always good ones, I just like watching people and seeing what they're up to). And I didn't spontaneously combust.

Last Tuesday ended up being another private lesson for me, nice, but I can't make next week's (The Dude has a gig) so I'll be going in to the Sunday class instead. I'll know at least one person there but don't know what it will be like otherwise.

Oh, and my hand wraps came in, bright red. Trainer said it may take me a while to get used to them but they felt like part of me right away. Though I don't fully remember how to put them on and every guide I can find online has different instructions. So I'll just have to ask again. I do need to remember not to throw them in to the wash unless I want everything I own to be bright pink.

I've been reading The Boxer's Heart: A Woman Fighting by Kate Sekules, and it's really helpful on the philosophical question front, basically because she had the same ones I do. But the piece I've been really moved by is the documentary Shadow Boxers, which gives a brief overview of recent women's boxing and then profiles Lucia Rijker, a world champion and my new hero. She is an amazing fighter but also very articulate about the dangers of it and why she goes into the ring.

Oh, and all this makes me think about lots and lots of other stuff, and I've been looking into other gyms and classes since I can't afford to do this every month (which was another reason why it's important that I be able to work on my own)... though mostly my investigation has shown me that I was really lucky to stumble onto what I have, so I may end up sacrificing some other things (that trail race?) to keep going.

Now if only Mexican boxing would come on random late night TV again...

Infatuatedly yours,


  1. You are an athlete. I, on the other hand, hate exercise. The only thing I hate more than exercise is not exercising. Or rather, what happens to me when I don't exercise (like work-induced back pain, or my clothes not fitting the way they should). But I digress. How interesting that you've found your way to boxing! And why Mexican boxing?

    1. Because that's what we can find on TV, on the Spanish channels. Professional boxing in the U.S. is only on pay-per-view (and we don't even have cable), and amateur boxing only shows up on ESPN sometimes. As for women's boxing, forget it. NBC didn't even show it when the Olympics were on.

      Also, Mexican boxing is a little more footwork and defense-oriented, which is of interest... at least that's how I remember it being, I haven't seen any for months.

  2. I completely understood your line, "And they had their thoughts about what I was doing, or didn't..." I have the same thing in my brain when I run, and see other people running. Are those people noticing me? Are they looking at my form? GREAT job going out into public with the boxing. That must have felt really good to do! I'm fascinated with your boxing stories now!

  3. I love that you're loving boxing and that it's beginning to really mean something to you! I always feel so awkward at the gym, and I think it shows real strength to just do your thing, regardless of others.