Google maps said it would only take 15 minutes max to get to Cappy's gym on Capital Hill. I gave myself 45 minutes to get there. Because I arrived so early, I sat and nervously waited it out in the car, reading through my Chinook book. (So Seattle, I know.) Jennie called - and said "is that what I give you rest days for? So you can box?" We chuckled about it, both knowing that this is something I want to do. And she supports looking into it - but still has every right to give me a little crap.
At 7:20 I get out of the car and head over. Cappy instantly recognizes me though he can't place where. Then the long story comes out... used to box 10 years ago, (clobbered your girls), am interested in getting back into it (to clobber more girls) - came to check out what your gym has to offer. In the meantime the participants in the boxing conditioning workout are punching heavy bags, jumping rope, slapping focus mitts - with beads of sweat hitting the floor in regular intervals.
He tells me where the changing room is and I proceed to wrap my hands. I'm a little out of practice and as the night wears on and I'm constantly fumbling with them. The changing room/bathroom/weigh in area with a big huge laundry sink room has pictures of various fighters in frames and the occasional autograph.
I put on my white bandana to keep my annoying bangs out of my face and start jumping rope. I quickly learn my footwork is slow and clumsy and my hand eye coordination is not what it used to be. But my cardio pays no mention and I find my steady pace starts to outlast some of the participants. Cappy bases the initial warm up off of the bell which beeps every 3 minutes, rest for 1 minute and then back on. We do a medicine ball work - holding the ball overhead while shimmying across the length of the room, then with it out in front and then back to overhead. At this point I start to notice who's fit and who's not. I may not have the prettiest footwork but I my engine is larger than most.
On the mats we go - working on our core. First we bounce the medicine ball off our abs with your legs raised. I get into a rhythm, breathing out of my mouth in short bursts and notice everyone else is quiet - taking those hits in eerie silence. Then we put the ball between our knees and start crunching for three minutes. And eventually we put the ball between our feet and do leg raises for an additional three minutes. My abs are screaming - but I notice not many people are completing the effort. They give up when it starts getting hard. My abs are screaming at me but I know that the pain is a good thing and this will get me stronger. Then last but not least, we sit up, with our legs raised above the ground about 5 inches and move the ball from side to side. I went until failure and then went again.
Next on tap - circuit drills. You do each station for 3 minutes before proceeding to the next. Cappy pairs me up with Leah - a tough looking girl with nice Everlast high tops and tattoos. I'm not really intimidated. We start with triceps - dipping down from a bench. My weakling t-rex arms allow me to only complete about 5 before they start flailing about. I laugh at how silly I must look. Next we go into the ring and one person throws a medicine ball at the other person as they deflect it with a large focus mitt. Not sure what the purpose of that drill is - but hefting a 12 lb. ball around for 3 minutes definitely gains strength. We continue onto the speed bags, which is where my partner excels. She starts slow, and I think, "I'm doing good!" but then as she speeds up and has that bag rocking I feel like a complete uncoordinated doofus. Unfortunately we didn't have speed bags when I was training back in the day - so my skill level is way down.
But when it's time to hit the heavy bag - my instinct comes back. And I'm rocking and rolling with an 80 pound bag like it did me wrong. It felt good to throw punches in rapid succession. And my pink gloves enjoyed being put back to work after the 9 year hiatus they've had in my old bag. We do two rounds with the heavy bags - and I start really getting into a rhythm. Bobbing and weaving around, working on my fancy feet, beating the crap out of that bag. I barely notice if anyone is watching. This is what I came here to do. To feel this intensity.
And last but not least in the circuit - we have to hang from a bar and do hamstring curls. I fire off a ton, with no problem except my hands keep slipping down as well as my hand wraps. My partner completes about 5 before she has to take a break to stretch them out.
At this point I'm good and sweaty. My face is red and I'm getting back into the groove. An hour has flown by and we gear up to start sparring. I reach into my duffel bag and pull out my mouth guard, sparing gloves and pelvis protector. It's a funny contraption - the pelvis protector and looks like I put underwear on over my shorts. But it protects you from any pelvis damage and clearly defines what is below the belt.
No one else puts one on.
Cappy tells me - we only use those in competition. Why? I ask. Because that's just how we do things here. Do you mind if I wear it? (I try not to sound sarcastic.) No - by all means. I'm sure some of those people thought, what's up with this girl? I think the same of them. Why not protect yourself?
Unfortunately I don't have any head gear. It rotted in my bag from too much sweat and after 10 years decided to just throw it away. I have to borrow one from the wall - and find one that doesn't really fit and every time it gets knocked around my hair starts falling in my face. That and it has blood all over it. Gross.
We start sparing - and I'm thrown in the mix with "Queen" - a multi-national champion who has her eyes on higher level. She's in a much lighter weight class and about 6 inches shorter than I am. She had been giving me the eye all night - and now it was time to face why I chewed off every single fingernail I had in the car about an hour ago.
I survive. Though I land about 1 punch to her 10. She's fast and furious. She laughs at how my head gear moves around and I in turn laugh at myself. I'm thrown into a round robin, meaning I switch sparing partners every 30 seconds for three minutes. We progress from only throwing jabs, to jab, straight, hooks - to only straights (jabs and cross) to all. When I partner back up with Leah I land a couple on her chin to which she responds, aim for my forehead. She's used to regular so when I switch it up to South paw I land more blows then she knows what to do with. It frustrates her and I start landing more. That fighter in me is still there and I'm amazed at how quickly it came back out. I want more time with Queen - but know I risk breaking my nose if I do. I did hear it crunch a little - but cartilage does that.
The end of the night came quickly. I shadow box as a cool down and the movements come back to me. I feel good. Really good. And I've completely soaked my clothes with sweat. Afterward I stick around to chat with Cappy and see what he thinks. "You're rusty, that's to be expected. What do you want to do?" Compete. I answer, without hesitation. Yet I'm not convinced if this gym is where I want to train full time. As a "A" team member the workouts are 4 times a week, with 3 "road work" sessions. A couple of the ladies were encouraging and said they'd love to see me back in the gym.... yet I'm not sure if that was the right fit.
Timing is everything. I got an email this morning from another gym out of Tukwila that offered a free week to check it out. I might as well give that one a try.
This morning's 8 am hill interval session with Jennie came bright and early. Thank goodness I slept like a baby last night - dreaming of picking blueberries and eating them until I couldn't anymore. And we did the efforts before the reality of my sore abs and arms could hit me... but now that I sit in my office a couple of hours later, I'm having a hard time keeping them up to my keyboard.