I think a little background on me is necessary before I go into detail on this one.
- I am not — and never have been — sporty. This is the understatement of all understatements. Since I was very small, I have lacked coordination, speed, endurance, and a willingness to court danger (“danger” in my vernacular being a very broad category including such activities as walking down stairs without paying close attention, making sudden movements of any kind, getting onto or putting on anything with wheels, attempting to exist in any position other than prone on ice, jumping off anything higher than 30 centimetres, and being in the vicinity of a ball, puck, frisbee or any other sporting device not completely at rest.)
- I am quite opposed to violence and generally believe there are better ways to deal with things. I actively avoid confrontation and have never hit anyone in my life. When I am angry, the worst I ever do is have imaginary conversations wherein the person who has upset me gets told off very eloquently. And boy, does that show them.
- I loathe yelling. I’m sure no one likes being yelled at, but I get anxious even being near someone else being yelled at. Every muscle I have becomes tense. Even my eyelids. It’s a bad scene.
So, my decision to join a kickboxing bootcamp was more than a little out of character and surprised basically everyone I told about it. But here’s the thing. Despite all of the points listed above, I have always had ninja fantasies, (I don’t think kickboxing is the martial art of choice for ninjas, but whatever) fantasies where I am awesome and doing cool kick-ass moves in a non-clumsy way. Of course, I’ve never followed through on this. I’m a lover, not a fighter, and the odds of my falling on my ass are very high. However, I have spent a lifetime soft and weak and recently I’ve thought I might like to give lean and mean a try. So a few weeks ago, I said to hell with it and signed up anyway, for Raz Chan’s Women’s Kickboxing Bootcamp. It’s three times a week, an hour per session, for four weeks.
We start by running around the gym about six thousand times. This is followed by several laps in each direction doing that side shuffling thing I remember from the basketball practices I went to as a young’un. (Wisdom of the ages: “You are tall; therefore you will be good at basketball.” ‘Fraid not.) Fifteen minutes in and I’m sweaty, red, and thinking it is possible that my heart may just thump its way out of my chest and onto the floor for all the other girls to accidentally tramp on as they speed past me.
As I begin to consider my impending heart attack as an excellent solution to my increasing desperation to lie on the floor and weep, he says we can stop… and do jumping jacks. Whatever, I’ll take it. Turns out jumping jacks are just what you do while he explains the next activity of torture. We will do ten jumping lunges, followed by ten squats, ten push-ups, ten things where you have your hands on the floor and jump your legs back and forth and then side to side and ten burpees (aka The Spanish Inquisition’s secret weapon). Then do jumping jacks again until everyone has caught up. Then do it all again. Four more times.
Something has gone horribly wrong. I’ve just finished the squats and everyone else is back doing jumping jacks again. What? Is it even possible to count that high in that amount of time, much less do the stuff? What do I do now? Do I pretend I’ve just done everything and am all caught up, or do I drag myself through it all? I choose the second. Push-ups! Honestly. I think the last time I did one successfully, I was nine. I (arguably) got through the first set around the time when everyone else was finishing their fifth, so all good.
Now, I have to say here, I was extremely nervous showing up to this thing. Bootcamps have a bit of a reputation for people yelling at you and making you feel a bit pathetic if you are — and I am. But Raz and his assistant, who I think may be called Sarah, are not like that at all. They kept calling out to me (ME!), “Good job! You’re doing great!” Now, I am all for positive reinforcement, but these people are either blind or total liars, and I know they’re not blind. “Great” is probably the least appropriate adjective that one could come up with for how I’m doing. But whatever, it’s better than being yelled at and I get a bit of a chuckle out of it.
We then do a bunch of ab stuff and then get to hit some people holding pads. A lot of the people there are regulars, so they split off the beginners to teach us technique. We got to put our gloves on and learn punches (we learned kicks the next day.) This is the part where I actually started to enjoy myself. Punching stuff is pretty fun.
We end off with some stretches. At this point, I’m starting to feel great. I made it through the hour and survived! I will be sore tomorrow, but I did it! Hurray for me! The feeling of accomplishment is intense.
As I write this, I’ve just finished my third week, so I have one week to go. I might be a little leaner, but I’m not meaner. It turns out that it’s really great to spend an hour where you really don’t have any space in your brain to think about anything but your body and how it feels and what it’s doing. I feel less stressed and better able to shrug off the annoyances of daily life. This is an unexpected benefit and one I am really enjoying.
I am not a ninja. I will never be a ninja. If I were ever to try to kick someone, I would fall on my ass. But there’s a bit of power behind my right hook, I think, and that’s kind of fun to know. I’m glad I took this class even though I don’t know if I will sign up for it again. It is an awesome workout and I love the boxing part, but I think the kicking part might not be doing my knees any favours. This is probably my own fault and the result of form issues, but still. I’m not looking for permanent damage. So I might look into straight-up boxing options down the road. Meanwhile, I’ve still got my gloves and may try to keep up the jumping jacks as well. I might even train to one day be able to do a push-up. That’s right. Sky’s the limit.