Q: How do you feel? A: Like boxing

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 11.44.45 AMRecently, my friend posted a quote that really resonated with me: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”. And as I sat there thinking to myself, I found it difficult to come up with answer. Through we, as individuals, are always going through changes and (hopefully) growing: I think we tend to create a set of interests that we rarely stray from. For example, when I was growing up I tried playing baseball, basketball, etc. During high school I inadvertently decided that running was the only sport that was “for me”. And for the last year or so I’ve been an on-again/off-again runner (planning to stay “on” from this summer and onwards). 

In terms of fitness, I saw myself as a runner and a yogi (who occassionally did 30mins of body weight training). But when my friend said she was looking to take boxing lessons and wanted someone to join her, I leaped at the invitation. This was with no prior boxing experience and no genuine interest in the sport aside from the fact that it “sounded cool”. However, I wanted to do something for the first time and take on a real challenge. Before I knew it, it was June and I was entering Hamlin Park’s boxing room trying to look as athletic as a 5ft tall lanky latin girl can.

Let me backtrack and say that one of my biggest flaws is that I put my body on the backburner. At school, my diet was–for the most part–whatever the dining hall served and whatever the vending machine dispersed. And of course, lots of energy drinks. I was also pretty inconsistent when it came to working out. A sort of weekend warrior: I would go hard and then disappear for weeks. But I’m proud to say that I’ve been boxing for about 4-5 weeks now and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

For those of you who have never boxed before the workout goes as follows: stretching/warm ups, footwork, footwork + jabs, *put hand wraps on*, hit the bag 4-6 reps (each rep is 3mins with a 30 second break), plank (or do push ups), sit ups, shadow box (as many times as desired), and then someone takes you on the pads. No other workout has gotten me to sweat so quickly. And while I love running, there’s something so satisfying and empowering about boxing at Hamlin.

I can usually keep my nerves in check but before I spar I get a rush of anxiety and excitement unlike any other. And in the ring, there are so many things to keep track of. When I’m running it’s just me, my music, and the road but when I’m boxing someone I never know how it’s going to turn out. I’m trying make quick movements but also maintain form. I have to protect myself but also remember that sometimes the best defense is an offense. When I get hit, I am trying to figure out how it happened: am I squaring up to much? I have to move. Let me throw some combos and try to get something to land. But I have to keep moving. Keep my chin down. Be confident and deliberate.

It’s an overwhelming and amazing experience.

Boxing has also given my summer structure and made me more health conscious. I’m using my 2hr+ roundtrip commute to Hamlin Park to read and write. I’m tracking my calories with Livestrong’s MyPlate App so I can gain weight and reach a healthier BMI. I’ve also replaced most of my junk food with healthier snacks like fruit, yogurt, peanutbutter, and cheerios because everything I put into my body is going to effect my performance in the ring (and in that area, I need all the help I can get!).

Boxing has given me a challenge. As cocky as it sounds, I do well in most areas of my life: my grades are a perfect example of this. In the classroom, I am usually one of the best students and one of my peers once told me: “things just always work out for you, you always get the A”. But at Hamlin, I’m a weaker link. Though I am not allowed to spar with my friend (because we are friends) I’m honestly grateful because I’d get rocked. On a more serious note, I am grateful that we go to Hamlin Park together. She’s the reason I’ve been going 4-5 times a week instead of the 3 that I had in mind initially. She’s the reason I held a plank for 3mins and 13 seconds. She’s why I hit the bag for 6 reps on thursday (for the first time). Honestly, she’s the better boxer but more importantly she pushes me to better.

And at the end of the day, that’s all I’m trying to do–in every facet of my life–I’m trying to be better.

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