June 1, 2012 ( I thought I’d enter it a bit late)
My friend Dejenne is working at a recently opened boxing gym in my neighborhood, and claimed the classes are great exercise. Eager to try something beyond the dull gray treadmill and dumbbells, I sampled a class.
As I drove over in my triceps-complementing tank-top, I pictured myself in a row of several muscle-bound He-Men. All of us would be punching holes through seemingly paper-mache punching bags, every movement motivated by the ever hackneyed and inspirational “Eye of the Tiger”. While we effortlessly shreded our punching bags, a new friend might lean over and invite me for protein shakes after class, as my natural athleticism caught their attention and qualified me as a potential gang member. Better yet, a wise-ass would feel threatened by my awe-instilling fighting abilities and his deep-rooted insecurities would prompt him to interrupt the class by challenging me to “Mortal Combat”. The fight was inevitable considering the brute’s need for constant validation, as he suffers a steroid-diminished penis. In the ring, I’d let him hammer away at my cheese-grater abs for a minute, sigh, then upper-cut him out of the arena and consciousness. I’d hold my form like Tiger Woods’ swing so my power wows my opponent’s gang, their admiration and loyalty now in the palm of my triumphantly raised fist.
While I knew the trial-class wouldn’t parallel my expectations, I was still alarmed to find my army of manly men sent their sixty-year old mothers and tooth-pick sisters to train in their place. Everywhere I looked, elder women were finding ways to make spandex, bare sports bras, and punching unflattering and ineffective. After Dejenne assured me I was at the right class, and wrapped my wrist and knuckles I took my place among the powder-puff ranks. I felt a little embarrassed being one of the only guys and youngest by three decades, but decided my fists of fury would earn me some respect. In no time at all I would bask in the flattery of twenty elderly women. “Oh, you punch so hard!” “So much stronger than my grandson!” “You’re like my Michael, but thirty years ago!” “Can I touch it- your muscle, I mean?”
The class started easy enough with jumping jacks and push-ups, but once we got to the bag I was surprised by my lack of endurance. My shoulders burned for the whole class, as my instructor forced me to protect my face against an armless, inanimate enemy. It soon became clear why Rocky’s inspiring montage was only thirty-seconds, because boxing for more than that is just ridiculously demanding. It was fifteen minutes into the workout when the instructor helped another individual. Out of sight, I drooped my arms in fatigue and observed my classmates like a panting gorilla. Down the rows, each woman fired their combos out nonstop, the focus in their eyes penetrating the bags as much as their punches. A nose-ringed, and particularly butch lesbian was landing thunderous blows on what she perceived as the heavy scrotum burdening society. Not as strong as bertha, but twice as quick, a veiny, gray-headed Nana landed her punches at the pace of a humming-bird’s wings. Her punches, undoubtedly knocks on death’s door to tell him to fuck-off for a while.
I felt guilty and humbled for having pictured better, more inspiring classmates when these women epitomized true strength and hard work. I turned back to the task at hand, and despite the intimidating forty-five minutes ahead of me, I began whipping my noodly arms at the punching bag. I was arrogant and weak today, but if I train with these women, at least I’ll be mightier in a month!
You never know where you’ll find inspiration…