Posts Tagged ‘speed bag

18
Aug
18

Stamina

I’ve noticed it all summer long—small minute observations of not being on my game. Whether it’s slowing down in the ring as the rounds add up or the feeling that I’m going to run out of breath when I walk from home to my writing room or from my office at work towards the subway.

These are things I take for granted: having the pep and vigor to work hard through my 16 rounds of training at Gleason’s or walking at my fast pace wherever I go, in fact hating when I amble as some sort of flaw in the process of how I move through space

And yep, it’s been hot and humid, even at 6:15 in the morning. And as for Gleason’s – well it’s a boxing gym! Air conditioning is for the winter when cold air barrels through because there’s very little heat—and summer, well, the heat and mugginess is just part of the “allure,” not to mention a sure fired way to loosen up tight muscles.

In contemplating why my stamina is off, and why there have been times this summer when I’ve had to stop in the middle of running pads with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore, sit for a while under one of the overhead fans with a wet towel on my head before picking it up again on the double-end bag or the speed bag, I’ve wondered if it’s just the heat, or something else.

Is it turning 64? Is it the process of the body inevitably slowing down even when one does the same thing repetitively? Is it mental? A sense of not being in the moment, my thoughts wandering off somewhere, stealing glances at CNN’s early morning news show as I shadow box around the ring—feeling my guts tighten and cringe at whatever the latest outrage is about children being separated from their parents or yet more cuts to things like food stamps and healthcare?

In thinking about stamina—that ability to work at something long and hard whether it’s something physical or mental or both for that matter—I’ve been thinking through the processes that gives one the feeling of invincibility as one works through the problem, whether it’s running five miles in a set amount of time, boxing a set number of rounds, or putting in the hours to write a book; efforts that require focus, attention, and a sense of being present with what one is trying to accomplish.

I’m hoping that my being “off” in the gym—is some combination of heat and mental focus, and in thinking it through even further I do have to own up to the fact that I’ve not been resting as I should and have been letting the day-to-day stuff we all live with “get” to me.

And so in trying to tease out stamina—I can see it as a “trifecta” of sorts: one part being in shape, one part being focused, and one part being present enough to let it all happen. And sure, it can be physical too—but the truth is, I just don’t buy, at least not yet, and so off I’ll go on Monday to work it out on the bag again.

21
Mar
18

The gym is closed today

My ritual of morning is out of kilter.

With the gym closed today there’s no need to push myself out of bed at 5:30 to begin the process of readying for the gym. Gone is the symmetry of my every other weekday morning boxing workout with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore.  Of the silent walk to the gym, and brief chitter-chatter with the coffee guys in front of the court-house in downtown Brooklyn.

On different mornings, I have different looks and feelings. Mostly I’m reassured by the discipline of making it to Gleason’s Gym pretty much without fail. I arrive, wave to the early morning denizens and making my way to the locker room, transform myself into my boxer self.

It is in the locker room where I set out my tools–my well-worn rival sparring gloves, my hand wraps and my shoes, my water bottle and towel, while hanging up my work clothes for the quick shower and change after my workout.

Ready for battle, I enter the ring to begin the rounds of shadow boxing, working on my footwork and my mix of combinations, careful to always snap my jab with my right hand up.

The rounds with Lennox — four to six depending on how much energy we have.

The four rounds on the double-ended bag, or the heavy bag.

The four rounds on the slip bag or the speed bag.

Sometimes an added bit of something, sometimes not.

Each has a place in my ritual of morning.

Mostly it is all about the sweat and pushing myself and staying positive during those times when I am anything but. This past year has had its difficulties. I still mourn my father’s death in June, finding strength in my memories of him performing his 300 crunches while hooked up to the oxygen that was his mainstay as he bravely battled COPD.  And perhaps it is that memory that pushes me to haul myself out of bed, even when I’ve only managed to get to sleep at 1:00 AM. Other mornings it is the concept that #ageisjustanumber or that the pursuit of one’s passions keep one young and vibrant and vital.

With the gym closed, I find myself up anyway at 5:29, a full hour ahead of my reset alarm clock. Up and wondering what I shall do. Go back to sleep? Scroll through posts on social media? Worry about the latest headlines in the news? The offer I saw on Facebook for an opponent to fight a former world champion for the ridiculous,  insulting and ultimately dangerous fee to the life and safety of the woman who will feel compelled to accept $2,000?

Instead, I find myself here at the dining table. Up and writing, thankful that I’ve given myself the chance to pivot and turn towards my other source of solace and sanity in a crazy world.

 

 

12
Jan
13

Effortless prose on the speed bag …

Effortless prose on the speed bag …

Speed Bag Gleason's Gym

I’ve always loved the speed bag. Coming at the end of a workout, it feels like a well-earned respite from the grunts and groans of hard hitting on pads, bags and bodies.

One can go slow, fast and everywhere in between as that classic patterned da-da-da-da-da-da-da roams through one’s head, the feet perhaps in syncopated rhythm, perhaps not, as the right and left hands make the speed bag sing.

Once mastered, however, there is always that push towards the next level. In my case I’ve been thinking  a lot about elbow strikes and telling myself that it’s good range-of-motion therapy for my shoulder has spurred me on to actually try.

For my first outing I chose a pattern of alternating a four-count between my left and my right hitting slowly with the following pattern:  right, right, right, right elbow,  left, left, left, left elbow.

I tried it during the last 30 seconds of my third round on the speed bag, and for the fourth round attempted the elbow strike pattern for most of it. I have to say I hit it right on the elbow a few times, but mostly struck the forearm.  Still, the range-of-motion was pretty tough on the right side — and as therapy alone, it certainly was something.

Coming home, I thought I’d check out some videos on YouTube and offer a smattering as inspiration!

Speed bag phenom in time to the music!

Cool double-strike patterns with elbow strikes!

Early efforts … with double-strikes.

True mastery.

28
Jan
12

Big days, little days.

Big days, little days.

Some days are filled with big things and others have the “usual suspects.”  The same it seems with working out: peppy for two or three training sessions in a row and then the dogs. We’re talking no energy, no pop and not so much going through the motions as just having no energy to get where you want to go!

I had one of those mornings at Gleason’s Gym today.  Sure, I did my sweet 16 (four rounds each of shadow boxing, pad work, double-ended bag and speed bag), but did I ever have to work for them.  Lennox kept shaking his head saying, “wake up, girl!” And maybe that helped because I did manage to bring it towards the end with two hopped up rounds on the double-ended bag and some serious da-da-da-da / da-da-da-da on the speed bag.

In analyzing it later, I realized that part of the problem is I’m still not doing enough during the week to keep the momentum up for a meaningful Saturday session.  A clue on how to do that in an otherwise busy life came from my old Peace Corps buddy Mark who had a post on Facebook today proclaiming that he’d hit his goal of 1,000 sit-ups in a week.

I thought, “1,000!?!  That is a lot!.”  Breaking it down to daily increments, however, brought it more in line with what actual humans can achieve! Reading further, Mark wrote about his formula for success: starting at just 130 for the first week until he had brought himself along to 1,000.

Given that I struggled through my 100 sit-ups this morning at the gym (having only done 20 all week) — it occurred to me that if I followed Mark’s formula of defining weekly goals, it might get me off my tush and into a regular daily sit-up routine. Not wanting to set the mark too high for myself the first week, I’ve settled on accomplishing 300 between Sunday and Friday.  That means 50 a day — meaning about 10 minutes!  Seen that way, there is no way I shouldn’t be able to achieve it.  The same thing for push-ups — or my version of them which means on my knees or against a bar at this point.  Sure, I did 20 today at the gym (in two sets of 10 each), but it was hard and strained my shoulder.  So there again, I’ve decided on setting a goal between Sunday and Friday.  I’m staring off with 60, that means 10 a day — or another 5 minutes a day at most!

Summed together, if I give myself a mere 15 minutes a days, I can meet my weekly goal and have sacrificed nothing. No excuses here!

Kudos to Mark for a great idea!

25
May
11

Lovely morning.

Lovely morning.

Daughter awake. Yoga routine finished. Kitty fed. Husband comfortably abed. Light full on in the sky. Warmish breeze at the window. In other words a lovely morning.

My work day is huge, to be followed by 12 lovely rounds of pounding on heavy bags, double-ended bags and the speed bag.

All is right with the world.

As for inspiration …

Lucia Rijker on the Speedbag!

Heavy bag – women’s training

14
May
11

Waiting for the end to come.

Waiting for the end to come.

Today was one of those gym days when if found myself waiting for the end. Whether it was the end of the round, the end of the set, or the end of the training session, my entire body seemed to be keeping rhythm to the “why are we here?” mantra.

We’re talking muscles yelling at me, head throbbing from a migraine, lungs shouting “wtf!?!” and legs that refused to bend.  Len (bless him) was a sweetheart about it and aside from a half-hearted, “wake-up, wake-up” during our first round on the focus pads, figured it was best to just go with the low-flow of energy.

Still, I did manage to get through the entire circuit, and even picked up some energy towards the end of my last couple of rounds on the double-ended bag and during my speed bag rounds.  By then I realized that by working it all out on the bag, I was finding a way to push through the physical morass and even found myself working a little past the bell on the last two rounds.

On the sit-up chair it was pretty much more of the same, but at least the head-throbbing was gone by then, and now that I’m home and adequately “coffee’d”,  I’m actually starting to feel a smile coming on.

So, what does it all mean?  I guess to haul your booty out the door anyway even if you’re feeling like dog-doo.  In my case, because I’m on a once-a-week schedule, I really feel that I have to go regardless — and let’s face it, while I’m still not at 100%, having made it through, I feel energized if only because I did complete the circuit. And who knows, I might even find the energy for a run later in the day.  I’ll see how it goes.

10
Apr
11

Sleep, per chance to dream…

Sleep, per chance to dream…

My sweet sixteen felt more like The Dirty Dozen yesterday.  I worked my butt off — with lots of right to the body, left to the body, straight right combinations during my pad work with Lennox, but was I ever ragged.  I’m not sure how I made it through the fourth round of the that set, but I managed it with some pretty pitiful arm punches, but, hey … I got through it.

The double-ended bag was also pretty pathetic, but I rallied for the speedbag and had really nice rhythm through most of it.  What helped was peering at some pretty great sparring in the two rings in my line of sight — along with my inner Gonna have a funky good time beat (thanks James Brown) and “legs don’t fail me now” entreaties.

What did work yesterday was upping my sit-up chair time to three rounds.  So all in all I was 16 + 3 for the day, if in limp mode for half of it.

In analyzing why my energy was so low, however, I had a true “duh!” epiphany.  Yep, the missing ingredient: Sleep!

From no less a source than Harvard Medical School Women’s Health Watch (link here), six important reasons for getting enough sleep include:

1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.

2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.

4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.

5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.

6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Oy.  Who knew.

I mean, yes, I knew, but like many of us, I continue to blow-off the importance of getting those zzzz’s in favor of all the seeming have-to’s, not to mention the dumb want-to’s (like watching really bad TV) that get in the way of a decent night’s rest.

Put another way, getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is no less important to health than eating a balanced diet and doing all that cardio in the first place — and may in fact, help with curbing the pounds and upping your energy in the process.  Least ways I sure hope so!

02
Apr
11

My gym day

My gym day!

Saturday is my gym day.

I walk my daughter to her Aikido Dojo — where she usually does her three hours split between the open and advanced classes — and make my way over to Gleason’s Gym for my own sweet 16.

Today’s practice will entail a straight no-chaser kind of morning:  four rounds of shadow boxing, four rounds of pads, four rounds on the double-ended bag with four rounds on the speed bag to finish the circuit.  Then it’s off to two-rounds of easy crunches on the sit-up chair as I mentally drift into a nice tired feeling in between catching glimpses of folks sparring in one of the boxing rings.

It’s become a kind of bliss.  My shirt half-soaked with sweat.  My face flushed.  Perspiration matted in my hair. My legs a little shaky as I make my way into the locker room to change; today kind of special, because instead of three hours, my prodigal will be spending her day at a seminar so free until 5:00 PM, I can tarry at the gym before taking my time walking home.

Reflecting as I walk; I know I’ll feel like summer: slow, deliberate, easy.  My body supple and warmed and ready for anything on my lazy meander up the hill near Gleason’s; smiling at the tourists under the Brooklyn Bridge overpass and finally returning to my usual self somewhere near Cadman Plaza where the rush of people will start to catch me back into the flow of a busy Saturday.

 

 

 

08
Mar
11

When the soul is willing but the body’s on the “blink”!

When the soul is willing but the body’s on the “blink”!


This past Saturday, I was at Gleason’s figuring that I’d go full-bore into training mode.  Something about my walk to my daughter’s Aikido Dojo, however, should have tipped me to the fact that I was going to be dragging!

Once I got to Gleason’s admittedly fairly spry on the stairs, I was in sweat-stinging-my-eyes mode by my third round of shadow boxing – and grateful for the end of the fourth and the one-round break I had before the double-ended bag was up and ready for me to use.

The killer, though, was when Lennox called out to me and said, “step it up,” on the second round of the double-ended bag.  Sure, I’d been throwing combinations and had dedicated the first round to mostly jab-jab-hook sequences as I worked my way around the bag in right and left circles, but what he wanted was to see me move around the bag, as in “push-it-girl” kind of move.  And that’s when the dog-pant started to kick-in and the flashbacks to my doctor saying – “you need more cardio”!

Okay.  So I got through those four rounds – kicking butt, so to speak and after my one round break started in on the focus pads with a “can-do” spirit in force if ever I felt one.  My body, however, was in a different mode.  It was saying, “Are you kidding me or what???”  Still, I tried, pushing myself even as my muscles were caving.  And here’s where the interesting thing happened.  In the third round, I didn’t have as much “pop,” but having dug deep into my core I was using my abs to throw cleaner, crisper shots at a faster rate.  It’s as if by ratcheting back just a little in terms of absolute “punch-power,” I was finding another kind of throttle on my engine – with breath that started to sound like breath again instead of the ragged tortuous sound of the previous round.

By the end of the fourth I was no longer “dead on my feet” at all as I had been after the four rounds on the double-ended bag.  And yes, while I was a bit slow during my first speed bag round, the other three were down right peppy, and I even had enough energy left to do three rounds of abs on the a small abs bench, not exactly the deepest sit-ups ever, but enough to feel it.

So where did this leave me?  Good question.  Perplexed for one, because I’m not sure why my energy was so low on Saturday, but glad that the way around it was to remember that adjusting my stance to take advantage of my core strength not only leveraged the energy of my body, but allowed me to pull back from the edge of my rapidly depleting muscle energy stores that meant I couldn’t enervate my breath never mind a left hook.

And here we are again.  Back to the fundamentals: stance, core strength, stamina and conditioning … and yep, C A R D I O !

27
Feb
11

Gaining “umph” in “limp” mode

Gaining “umph” in “limp” mode

Well I didn’t exactly have the greatest workout ever yesterday as my head throbbed from a pretty intense headache, but I did manage to eek out 10 rounds. The point was to “punch” through it as best I could  — and with Lennox’s help who slowed down to my level of crawl by the forth round of focus pads, I got through that part of my circuit and still managed to hit with some “umph”  as we worked on right-left hook-right and left-right-left hook combinations.

The great thing about getting to Gleason’s yesterday in “limp” mode was feeling the energy of everyone else’s work.  It is the true contagion of the gym and when one is feeling less than stellar getting there anyway is one way of pushing oneself to get over whatever ails — not to urge anyone to go to the gym with a 103 degree fever or anything that overwhelming, but when it’s fairly minor stuff, call it the “walking wounded” feeling, working out, even a truly modified one can help put a little extra something in your step on the way out the door.  In my case, all that sweat and effort helped ease the throbbing, and by the time I got home, my headache was pretty much gone.

One more thing, if your aren’t feeling all that well during your gym time, the double-ended bag can be a nice way of easing into your workout.  It is my preferred warm-up method after some gentle shadow boxing because it is a whole body work-out that can be paced.

22
Jan
11

Boxing day

Boxing day

Now that I’ve gone to a once a week training schedule for boxing, I find myself getting really excited by the time Friday comes along.  The daily fitness routine I’ve found that can work with my schedule these days is based around early morning yoga, but it’s the thought of boxing that gets me pumped up and ready to go.

My Saturday morning boxing routine begins with dropping my daughter off for her Aikido practice, after which I take a nice long walk over to  Gleason’s Gym. By the time I get there I’ve logged 2-1/2 miles at a pretty fast pace so I am nice and loose.  About a 1/2 mile out, I start pumping my arms a bit so that by the time I hit the gym I feel ready for one of my two favorites:  three rounds on the double-ended bag or three rounds of shadow boxing using the slip-rope.

For those who don’t usually practice, the slip-rope is real old-school consisting of something as simple as a clothes line tied between two poles or across the ring around 15 feet apart at about chest height. The object is to move forwards and backwards along the line and “slip” under as practice for slipping a punch. The slip-rope is also great for practicing upper cuts under the line — or for simulating jabs to the body and jabs to the head.  By around the third round, I feel loose enough to dance around the slip-rope going forwards, backwards, and circling.  Having the rope at chest height not only helps to “remind” me to slip, but also gives me an approximation of where to place body versus head punches.

Alternatively, I’ll use the double-ended bag for warm-ups starting with a round of lefts and finishing the second two rounds with combinations and a lot of hooks or upper cuts off the jab.

If I can train with Lennox Blackmore, we’ll do three rounds of pad work — with an aim of getting to four rounds by the end of January, five rounds by the end of February and six rounds by the end of March!  Once we’re done with the pads, it’s back to the double-ended bag for three rounds to work on punches and combinations that Lennox and I focused on during the training session on the pads. This helps to solidify moves, especially slipping punches to counter — a Lennox special. After that, it’s on to the speed bag for three rounds and then a whole lotta’ abs!  I’ll add that if Len isn’t around, I might work-out for three rounds on the heavy bag in lieu of pad work, or add in an extra three on the double-ended bag.

By the end I’m exhausted, but happy — and ready for the quick walk back over to pick-up my daughter.  I hope to keep this going for about three months so that by April I’ll be fit enough to get back into the ring for some light sparring.  We’ll see!

26
Oct
10

It’s good to hit things

It’s good to hit things.

I shadow boxed at home last night.  I put on 16 oz. gloves and boxed around the room for a couple of rounds before I pounded away at my closet door.  “Get this girl back to the gym,” seemed to be the refrain from my family who thought I was crazy.  I kept thinking how good it felt to hit things even though I wasn’t releasing much power or hitting very hard.

Hitting things is always my ultimate secret about boxing.  I love it.  I love how it feels to connect.   I love the physicality of working out on a big heavy bag and pushing in with my shoulder as I practice upper cuts.   The double-ended bag gives me a place to workout as a rhythmic dance.  It doesn’t have that da-da-da, da-da-da rhythm of the speed bag, but after a round or two, the timing is such that it starts to have its own distinctive beat.

Sparring is something else again.  It has its own magic that for me isn’t about the hitting so much as working through the space as a physical manifestation of a chess game.  Each jab is a feint, a loyal pawn that makes its way forward establishing pace, rhythm and control to set-up all the other punches, bobs and weaves in the arsenal.   To spar is to be in a pas-de-deux with my opponent as improvisational as tap dancing or trading eights with Miles Davis’ trumpet licks.

To hit something at the boxing gym is to come face-to-face with the truth.  You can’t hit and hit hard without that commitment or the emotional depths that get mined every time a punch is thrown.




November 2020
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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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