“Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth”. This is a famous Mike Tyson quote. I kind of feel like this quote sums up 2016 for me. Well, 2016 was the punch in the face, so I’ve been working on what the “plan” is from here on out. Or even if I should have one. I am not going to use this post to document my journey through 2016, but rather tell you about my re-ignited love for boxing. So the Tyson quote seems fitting.
I started boxing when I was about 25. Yes, a bit late in life, but my goal wasn’t to fight. My goal was to find a sport that I could do that I loved, and that would help me achieve my fitness goals. Due to an illness, I had to give up the fight, literally. I wasn’t even able to vacuum, so I figured that boxing wasn’t going to happen. And I never got back into it. Until late last year. I needed a way to jump start my fitness routine and I honestly missed it. It is an extremely intense workout, and definitely not for the faint of heart.
The gym is lead by a former professional boxer. He now trains fighters, and many have gone on to fight in the Olympics. He’s a good motivator most of the time, but he can be hard on some of the guys. Maybe he’s a bit easier on me because I’m a girl, or maybe its because I have no intentions of fighting. Either way, he shows me the proper technique so that if I wanted to pursue fighting, I could. He is still surprised at how hard I can throw a punch. I find this a bit insulting, but I guess its better to appear meek, than to actually be meek. At least in the boxing context.
So why do I enjoy boxing so much? Honestly, some days I wonder. As I type this, I’m in a lot of pain from the last two nights. My muscles were throbbing last night, and no amount of pain killers or muscle relaxants were helping. But when I’m there, its a different story. I enjoy being able to throw a punch and knowing my strength. I can’t throw a punch as hard as some of the guys in the gym, but I’m not competing with them. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my strength and balance over the last couple of months. My cardio has improved. My blood pressure has dropped. I’ve lost weight in my mid-section and my arms are much more defined now. I still have a ways to go, but it’s nice to see a change so quickly. Even when I don’t want to.
Boxing is a full body workout, and there’s no messing around. You’re either giving it your all, or you’re not giving anything at all. The coach makes us do interval training, which really boosts my cardio. I can barely move when I’m done, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can burn anywhere between 500 and 700 calories depending on how hard you go that night. I only burn 150 calories when biking at the gym for a half an hour.
There are many other reasons that make boxing such a great workout:
- Building up your coordination. From being able to balance on your feet, to having better hand/eye coordination, boxing requires you to fine tune these skills. I have not always been the most graceful, so this has been a challenge for me, but I can see some improvements. This also helps to strengthen your core.
- Stress reduction. What better way to get out your anger and frustration than to hit something over and over again for an hour. Last night, all I was thinking was “this is getting out my work frustrations”. There is a TON of adrenaline released during a boxing workout.
- It’s high intensity interval training at it’s best.
- It requires a lot of concentration. Your mind has to be in it. Any divergence from this can lead to big errors. As I said before, I’m not there to fight, but if I take my mind off the task at hand, I can throw the wrong punch. Or worse, end up hurting myself. Staying focused is helpful for me as I can tend to let my thoughts take over. An hour of boxing is one hour where I can “check out” of reality, and find that the “problems” are not there when I return.
- Endorphins – the “good” hormone as they say. Releasing endorphins makes you feel good. Sure, I’m in a lot of physical pain when I’m finished, but the mental effects are starting to show. I’m not waking up as grumpy and I’m better able to handle stressful situations when they arise.
Hopefully I’ve painted boxing in a good way. It is a lot of physical exercise, and ultimately pain. I hate to use cliches, but the “no pain, no gain” analogy definitely applies here. A year of biking probably wouldn’t do for me what 2 months of boxing has. Do I wish I could take a break? Almost every day. But the problem with taking a break is that it is difficult to get back into it. In my opinion, boxing is the way to go if you’re looking to make a lot of progress in a short amount of time. But like I said, its not for the faint of heart. While my dedication to it wains from time to time, I have to remind myself why I started this journey and realize that I am making progress, and it’s visible.
I’d like to end this post with a quote from Rocky. “Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.” I feel like this sums up my life a bit. I was stuck for a very long time. Taking hit after hit, but not being able to move forward from it all. The punch that was 2016 kick started my progress forward. I have a very long way to go, but getting through the last two months has shown me what I can do.