I took on a challenge, and came out victorious!
Picture me, standing atop an Olympic medal stand, holding on to my piece of precious metal, beaming and happy.
Just kidding. In reality, it’s much more anti-climatic. There’s no award, no certificate of merit, no orange slices or juice boxes.
I signed up for, paid for, participated in, and completed a 4-week boxing boot camp with other women at one of the local gyms.
It was something I had never done before. I’m not a class-taker, and gym memberships have proven fruitless wastes of money in the past. This was a big commitment for me to navigate.
Growing up, I was always an athlete, or at the least an active youth. I played basketball as a child, participated in softball in high school, and competed in field events in track and field, eventually, and surprisingly for this weakling, winning a district title in the Triple Jump my senior year.
As an adult, I am far from an athlete, and as a graduate student, I have moments of downright lethargy and physical slothfulness. My aging metabolism has slowed down drastically over the past 5 years especially, and I found I actually live to eat, rather than simply eating to live.
But I’ve found I feel so much better when I’m active, when the blood is flowing, when I am producing serotonin — the happy exercise brain substance that helps fight depression.
Walking and riding my bike are my normal fitness jams.
With a little extra time on my hands, I followed my roommate to the gym on a whim. My roommate loves taking classes at one of the local exercise facilities, and some good natured peer pressure won me over to check out the boxing offerings.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to learn how to box. I hate working out my upper body, and hitting something seemed like a good compromise to get fit without committing to boring arm exercises.
I signed up for the one-hour-a-week boxing boot camp on Friday evenings. There was boxing and learning combos on real punching bags. There was also work on defending a strike. We were put through cardio and ab workouts.
My four weeks of total body workouts ended on Friday.
I can’t say I loved the experience, but I can’t say I hated it, either. To be honest, attending a class with a certified fitness trainer was out of my comfort zone. I am a good self-motivator, when I have motivation to do something, anyway, and I actually do not react well to outside motivation (Cue one huge reason I quit basketball and softball and focused on the individual sport of track and field in high school. Stay out of my face, Coach!).
The first week, the first time the trainer tried to motivate me verbally, it was as if I forgot to how to do the simplest things, like walk. I had no idea which was my right hand and which was my left when the trainer was looking at me. I was flustered. I was uncoordinated. Out of shape. I wanted to cry multiple times that first night.
Each Friday I would have to navigate the foreboding feeling of anxiety that would well up before each class.
There was soreness involved.
Did I mention the anxiety that came with being asked to perform physically on cue?
But by week four, I felt experienced. I knew what my body was capable of, and what it was not yet capable of. I absolutely can’t plank from my toes — I’m lucky to plank from my knees. But I found I can land a decent upper cut, and can put together a few quick combos that don’t make me look like a total novice.
Most of all, I’m just super PROUD of myself for doing it and sticking to it — even if it was just four sessions.
The classes have helped motivate my fitness routine the other six days of the week, if for no other reason than to get moving to work out the soreness in my abs and arms. I’ve also met some fun women who are motivated to be their best selves.
I won’t be stepping into a ring anytime soon, or knocking out friends or relatives. Don’t call me Rocky. But I might drop in a few times for the next boxing bootcamp this month if my schedule allows.
But I accomplished something that made me stretch (physically, mentally, emotionally), and I feel better and stronger for it. Maybe there’s something out there waiting to stretch you.
Reach out for it. Maybe give it a jab-cross-kick in the shins.