I took a month — five weeks, actually — off of boxing training this summer. I ran a time or two, hiked one week, but I was entirely out of the gym, out of the ring, just out, period. For multiple reasons which are blah blah blah.
So it was with some trepidation that I headed back to my gym last Wednesday; I was pretty sure payback would be a bitch.
I was actually quite relieved to walk in and see that Coach Massey wasn’t there. I figured I’d get to train on my own and sneeeeeak back into team training later.
Nice thought, anyway.
Another team boxer’s father was there — actually he’s always there; he’s a wrestling coach and has boxing chops as well — and as soon as I walked by him he told me to fall in with the other three or four members of the boxing team as soon as I had a chance to warm up a bit. I nodded agreeably, figuring I was still safe. This man almost never gets up from his position in the spectator’s chairs, although he does drive his kid pretty hard from the sidelines. Which has paid off, I might add — she has 7 national wrestling championships, and is fast rising in the boxing world as well: she’s 15 years old and soon she’ll be able to kick my ass with both hands tied behind her back. She might could do it now.
Tangent: Here’s a fascinating difference between Second Round, where I train now, and LA Boxing, where I used to train. At LA Boxing, if there were ever any parents there, they were there to make sure the coach was working hard. At Second Round, parents are there to make sure their kid is working hard. Interesting, no?
I stretched, jumped rope, and casually dropped in with my team for shadowboxing rounds. Six rounds later Coach Baker hollered for us to hit the stations near his chair and we dutifully lined up:
- Heavy bag – Standard station – you punch it. Everyone knows the drill.
- Angle bag – I really, really like this bag because it’s a bit lighter, therefore it swings around a lot so it’s easier to get good footwork, pivot, and slip practice.
- Wrecking ball – Tough bag for me, ours feels too high (which is saying something, because at 5’8″ or so, I’m not short). I can easily duck under it, but have to strain to land uppercuts. Also I hate when it hits me in the head, which is why it’s also called the Headache bag.
- Medicine ball – This is for toe touches. You stand and hop lightly from one foot to the other, touching the toes of one foot to the top of the 12-lb ball each time. We work all around the ball, toe-touching with the ball in front of us, behind us, and also hopping over it side to side. These are pretty hard for me; very strenuous.
- Rope – We have a rope strung between two poles just below shoulder height. You have to duck quickly under it, throw a flurry, duck back under, throw another flurry. Pivot at the end, return with same. Don’t touch the rope, ever. Be fast.
On the face of it, these are actually pleasant stations — no sledgehammer, no sparring with one foot inside a tire, no sprints, no bazillions of push-ups or mountain-climbers. This is really not training hell. You stay at one station for 3 minutes, get your 30 second round break, then move to the next.
Just a nice quiet day at the beach, eh?
Maybe, for the first time through. But before we even began the first training round we learned that we weren’t going to get the 30 second recovery period — Coach Baker told us just to work through that.
Do you know how much I depend on that round break? How much I’m deeply, deeply in lust-need-desire with every one of those 30 seconds? Like a junkie, I love that break.
But truly, even without my (snif) 30 second round break, I was okay for the first 5 rounds through the stations. Even when Coach Baker told us there was no walking in the gym, and we were to run from one station to the next, I was okay.
The second 5 rounds was a bit more painful. Quite a bit.
And I may have cried on the third time through, but by that point it was hard to tell what was blood, what was sweat, and what was tears.
When he finally released us to our final 4 rounds of work — always jump rope at our gym — I had to stop myself from collapsing in sheer gratitude. Oh, thank you for jump rope rounds, thank you! What a merciful coach!!
Seriously, after 21 training rounds like that, jumping rope is a chance to breathe again. None of us had spoken during the rounds, there simply wasn’t enough oxygen for it. After 5 or six minutes on the ropes, we started to look around again, smile at each other. We’d survived it! There wasn’t much rope tricking (crossovers, sprints, fancy footwork); we were too fatigued. But we began to chat amiably and remember that we were humans. One nine-year-old, one 15-year-old, three seventeen-year-olds, and me (age forty-five). We made it.
And while I thought I might be in pretty bad shape the next day, I wasn’t! So I went in again on Friday and did the exact same training routine with six team members and Coach Baker again.
Except this time we only did 20 total rounds, rather than 25, glory hallelujah and pass the Gatorade.
And yes, during the jump rope rounds at the end on “easy” Friday, there was quite a bit of celebratory tricking.
Image by atoach on Flickr.