It is entirely reasonable to say that I was pretty sure (okay, I was absolutely positive) that one more upper cut, hook, jab or lunge was going to kill me. Like dead on the floor with no chance – or desire – of resuscitation.
The sweat dripping from my brow into my eyes, nestling itself beneath my contact lenses burned nearly as much as my thighs (and arms) (and butt) (and shoulders) (and calves) (and soul) yet I was actually kinda totally loving it. Oh, make no mistake, there are definitely moments when the only think keeping me going is the pride in not having thrown up, but, with the exception of a couple of brief (really) water breaks, I have successfully completed every boxing class I’ve taken. And I might now be addicted.
It has been a long time since I have had an exercise regime that left me wanting to go back again and again, exhaustion and confused muscles notwithstanding. And, while I love my walks on the beach, boxing kicks its ass. Hard.
When the sign announcing that a boxing gym was opening three minutes from my house, my friend Kim and I decided we were going to do it. I was all Gung ho and rah-rah but, because I lean toward lazy, I knew (and maybe hoped a little…or a lot) that if Kim bagged on trying it, so, too, would I. Only she didn’t. In fact, her excitement upon discovery that it was opening the next morning was so contagious that I signed up for a year…before I ever took a class.
I went in with a long list of concerns. Being a woman of a certain age, I have picked up a few physical issues along the way. (Aside: there might be a few emotional ones, too, but whatever.) I’ve had three, yes, three back surgeries. My left shoulder, elbow and wrist have all been problematic enough to require several injections, a fine band-aid, but not a cure. I have a funky tumor in my, yes, left foot which has been in there growing for more than ten years. We know it is benign, but not one single doctor has been willing or able to remove it. Oh, and despite my long walks on the beach, I am, once again, kinda lazy.
But the pressure was on. Kim and I made a date to meet “in the ring” (yeah, that’s not a thing) at 7:30 the following morning, giving us ample time to prepare for (or ditch) the class at 8. Here’s how that went:
7:30 a.m. Me to Kim:
7:40 a.m. Me to Kim: You coming?
7:48 a.m. Kim to me: On my way…
(This is about the time that I realize that that bitch was still in bed. Had I not texted her, I was flying solo. Oh, how I love Kim.)
7:52 a.m. Kim arrives. No turning back now.
There are, I learned, something like 1,127 bones in the hand and another 1,211 in the wrist which are all fair game for me to break, most likely on my left side because a. I am a lefty and b. everything happens on my left side. So, in the interest of not losing a new member on the very first day, one of the cute (oops, did I say that out loud?) trainers expertly protected our hands and wrists with pretty pink wraps and off we went to claim a bag. Alongside us were mostly women: tall, short, heavy, skinny, flabby, fit, young, old. And, I am completely confident in saying that 99% of them were experiencing the same abject fear that we were.
Here’s the thing: Not one single person left class early. Or died. Or, my personal and biggest fear (yeah, more than dying): barfed. In fact, alongside the sweat and water gulping and thrill that they had made it through, it was a room full of women at their bad-ass best.
I have never sweated so much. (And, not for nothing: I am a serious sweater. Thanks for that, dad.)
I have never had to suppress the urge to vomit so frequently.
I realized that I have never really punched anything.
I have never wondered if I might actually die from exertion.
I have never, if we are being honest, pushed myself so hard.
I have never been so grateful to have a good buddy by my side.
I have never felt stronger. (In spite of the fact that there might have been a few, or several, times that I was sure the bag was gonna win.)
I have never been more bad ass.
So here I am, at 52, pounding the crap out of a bag (that a part of me half expects to fall from the hook, knock me over, take me out or perhaps worse, bust my long ago rhinoplasty-ed nose) and freakin’ loving it. Yes, I am sore, I am tired, I am discovering muscles that I never knew existed but I also think I might finally have found something that I didn’t know was missing…