I’ve always been a bit of a boxing fan. I probably became a fan because my grandpa used to watch it pretty much every weekend, be it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, or some other televised event. I didn’t know who the boxers were then, but there was always a fight on at some point on the weekend, and I guess that stuck with me.
Oddly, I never became a fan of MMA fighting. It was always about boxing and still is. I even watch it on ESPN pretty regularly, but finding a fight with people I recognize is pretty tough to do. Even the PPV events are a drag because the main event doesn’t usually happen until midnight. That’s a lot of undercard when you’re paying for a particular fight.
Anyway, I was never really interested in actually getting in a ring and learning how to box, but hitting a heavy bag was always fun. Recently, it has become an outlet for pent-up emotions, of which I have a metric fuckton. It’s not unusual for me to end up on the floor of my basement bawling my eyes out after a session with the heavy bag, but that’s good. It feels good to let it out.
The one thing that sticks with me with boxing, though, is the level of exercise it gives me. I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without being utterly exhausted, and seeing as how I hate running and I hate riding the exercise bike and I hate, well, almost anything that causes my heart rate to increase, in the back of my mind boxing always had a glimmer of light for me.
Therefore, at the behest of a good friend of mine who has been working out in a boxing gym for about four weeks now, I went and checked out a gym in Ann Arbor to see if it was something I’d like to do. Title Boxing Club is on the west side of Ann Arbor, oddly enough, in the same building where I bought a bicycle several years ago. They have an offer of one free class to try and see if it’s something you’d like to do, so despite battling a cold, I decided to do it today. I’ll use my texts to the aforementioned friend to describe how it went.
First of all, I had to buy hand wraps, and the woman who showed me around last week was there to help me wrap my hands. You get to use loaner gloves for your free hourlong class, and since I seem to have big hands, I got to use the full leather ones, which was pretty cool. About 15 people were in my class, and the hour is broken down into a 15-minute warmup, 8 3-minute rounds of various combinations on the heavy bag with a one-minute break in between, then 15 minutes of core work.
The bell rung for the beginning and I was already nervous about the level of energy our class trainer had. This woman was the captain of the women’s boxing team at the University of Michigan, she was muscular and fit and happy and I wanted to kill her, but holy hell was she awesome. Anyway, the first 15 minutes summed up as so:
So it’s 15 minutes of warm up consisting of squats and high knee and jump rope and running in place and mountain climbers and burpees and OMFG kill me now
I think we were a minute and a half into the warmup when I was sure I was gonna die at some point. There was prayer, and pain, and the desire to punch myself in the face for even thinking there was a chance in hell this was a good idea. My GOD did it suck. And there was still 13 minutes on the clock.
I survived the warm-up, and not only was I warm, I was just about done. But nobody else was. They all were ready for more, and I certainly didn’t want to be the loser who walked out then and there, so it was time to box. Round One came up on the board, and the clock started, and the trainer continued barking commands…
Then 8 3-minute rounds of various combos both regular and southpaw and one guy said he couldn’t get thru six rounds the first time and I want to punch handicapped kittens
I did it. I stopped a few times in awe of my lung capacity, and to make sure I could still lift my arms, and that I had feet at the bottom of my rubbery legs, but I did it. I finished all 8 rounds. The guy who said he’d been coming a year and was a part-time trainer is the same guy who told me he got through six rounds his first time and was done – he came over and fist-bumped me. I was pretty pumped. We were almost done. 15 minutes of core work and I will have survived.
Core work. It sounds so innocent…
Then 15 minutes of core work like planks and side planks and crunches and scissors and I think I’m dead now.
This was way worse than the boxing. Planks, side planks, crunches, a medicine ball, twists and turns. At one point I could actually feel my ab muscles twirling into a ball in revolt. It was awful. I wondered what I did to deserve this. I wondered if it would be better just to bang my head against the brick wall until I bled out. If I could stand or lift my arms or blink I would’ve decked the trainer right then and there. But I couldn’t. Sneaky bitch.
And then we were done. The misery was finally over, and I could lay there in my sweat-soaked shirt and peel off my hand wraps and catch my breath, which literally took about 10 minutes it seemed. And then, after talking to one of the other trainers, I did the unthinkable…
I paid them to do the same thing to me over and over again for a year.
But here’s the thing – as much as it hurt and as much as I complained and as much as I thought I was gonna die, I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to be able to do squats during the one-minute round breaks. I wanted to be able to do the speed punches at the end of each round. I just wanted to be able to do more. I know I pushed myself harder than I’ve ever been pushed and there’s still so much more to do and I want to do it. I hate to run. I hate to bike. But this is fucking awesome and I loved hating every single minute of it. Most of all I made it through and it felt incredible and all I wanted to do was tell everyone.
So I’m going back to do it some more. Assuming I can stand up tomorrow.