When I tell people that boxing is one of my hobbies, shock is one of the most common reactions I get. Maybe "mom" and "boxer" don't go hand in hand. I first started going because a friend and I were bored one night. Boxing? Okay, Easy. I can dance ten straight minutes of choreography with my hair looking good, my make up still on point, and a smile on my face... I can box for three minutes. Man, was I wrong.
It was definitely intimidating. I got my hands wrapped, slipped on my gloves, and we got to work. Five minutes into class I had so much sweat dripping into my eyes, clouding my contacts—I couldn’t see. I couldn’t catch my breath. The Coach and owner of the gym sauntered up to me and introduced himself “Hey, I’m Coach Khalil, Welcome!”. My friend had to talk for me because I was so short of breath I was unable to introduce myself. For the rest of the 55 minutes I wanted to die. I wanted a shower. I wanted to leave. It wasn’t until the class was over, I realized I fell in love with the sport and I continued training for several months before we had to PCS (military move) to another state.
Coach is very old school. He’s a veteran boxer and a Veteran. He was an All-Army boxer and won other boxing things that I really don’t understand but I know are a really big deal. He’s like 40-something, looking like he’s 20-something, and he’s faster and in better shape than half of the class. Mind you, most of us in the class are fit and a lot of the men are in the Army as well. Every drill, every exercise, every thing in that class has a purpose – to make you faster, to increase endurance, to increase strength, to tighten up punches, etc. Coach had a lot of things happen in his life that he doesn’t really talk about but one can assume. Training under him was like getting a twofer – a good work out and a therapy session in an hour. The gym is an intimate, grungy, old-school, paradise that smells of perseverance and dedication. No one is there for the aesthetic but rather the training. Coach has no sympathy for you, however he runs his gym in a way that makes you feel like you’re training with family.
I fell in love with boxing. I made it a point to have boxing in my life. I changed my habits, my lifestyle, the way I ate, when I ate, the way I dressed, the way I carried myself, and I changed the way I perceived life. One could say I had an affair with boxing. I cried on the way home from my last class. I felt like boxing and I broke up. There was and still is a void that boxing can only fill. Here's what I learned in my short time training:
STAY IN BOXING STANCE. You take a wide, balanced, position with one foot forward. Once you start switching your feet up, you get off balance and your punches won’t be as effective. Stay balanced in life. When a situation occurs, YOU adjust YOUR stance. No one can do it other than you. Yeah sure, you have a coach telling you what to do, but those are merely suggestions, you don’t have to do what coach says. YOU are the one that has to keep your best foot forward, stay balanced, and move and adjust accordingly.
FACE YOUR OPPONENT. If anyone has seen a Mayweather fight, you see how much running the dude does (oooookay, I’m Filipino, so I’m bias. #TeamManny). No matter how much you run, your opponent is still going to come after you. You can procrastinate your grad school papers, chores, or talking to your significant other after a fight all you want, but they’re still due, it still needs to be done, and a situation still needs to be addressed. Just take a deep breath and face whatever it is head on.
ENDURE. Some of the drills coach made us do were PAINFUL. There were times where I thought my body was going to just give up. I left class drenched and my muscles burning, but I came back faster and more powerful. In boxing, you need to think about your next move, anticipate your opponent’s, all while remember to breathe and save your energy. In life you should push yourself to the point where it’s going to be a little uncomfortable, but once you endure that, you reap the benefits later.
QUALITY. Boxing isn’t about throwing punches. You get points for the kinds of punches you throw and where on the body they land. If we think that we have to constantly throw punches to harm our opponent, we would always be “armed”, defensive, and violent. Think past the façade of people. Every one has a back story, be compassionate and empathetic of others. That person tailing you on the highway? Maybe late for a doctor’s appointment? Maybe has exciting news to share and wants to get home? If a person is constantly on the defense, especially in a time like now, where there is so much hate and violence towards others, how will it resolve?
Regardless if you gained some insight from the life lessons or not, I urge you to try it. I don't mean put a kickboxing video on or attend a Turbo class at the gym. No, I mean go find a boxing gym and try it. It's incredibly intimidating, yes.. BUT! It’s a killer workout, you learn about yourself, and there is something so satisfying about punching something after a stressful day.
What is your favorite activity to do - work out or not - to decompress and destress from your day?