Posts Tagged ‘working out

26
Feb
17

Boxing as lifeline

Gleason’s Gym has been a real lifeline for me of late.

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The surety of going through my paces so to speak, the shadow boxing, pad work, heavy bag, double-ended bag, speed bag, abdominals, stretching and combinations thereof are a balm.

img_7389Even the early mornings offer solace. Up a 5:30 AM, off to the gym by 6:30 AM, in the ring by 7:00 AM out by 8:00 AM, showering and dressing, and off to the subway by 8:20 AM or so—two to three mornings a week. Then the long Saturday morning, where I can tarry and work extra rounds, and feel embraced by the easy camaraderie of people who push themselves to their physical limits.

What I also know is that I am a little sad and a little scared and a lot angered by a myriad of issues that are whirling around me. Unpacking them is complicated by a reticence to really face up to the deeper veins of truths that I would rather not face suffice to say they always come out anyway so sooner or later the reckoning will happen.

Gym life, and boxing gym life in particular, offers a microcosm of the range and power of emotion. Just the act of putting on a pair of gloves offers up so many different strands. For one, the gloves symbolize boxing itself. On an immediate basis one can think of such things as power, ability, courage, bravery, and skill. Gleason’s Gym itself calls out those concepts on the wall of the gym and on the back of every T-shirt:

“Now, whoever has courage, and a strong and collected spirit in his breast, let him come forward, lace on the gloves and put up his hands.” Virgil, Book 5, Aeneid

And yet there are other emotions. With puff pillows for hands one cannot “do” for oneself in any meaningful way. Sure, one learns to hold on to a water bottle between two gloved hands, but one cannot drink from it unless someone has unscrewed the cap. One also finds oneself being ministered to in such intimate ways. A trainer will towel off the sweat from ones face, apply vaseline, adjust ones clothing, tie a boot, wipe one’s nose. There’s a real “giving over” to allow all of that—a trust that one puts on to others.

img_7438For me the act of putting on the gloves swirls in the duality of empowering myself and giving myself over. At once I seek a kind of perfection of movement and strength, while also allowing myself those helpless feelings: That sense that I cannot always take care of everything whether that means throwing a perfectly executed one-two combination or asking my trainer to dab the sweat out of my eyes.

It’s also how I know that I cannot magically and in any immediate way change the political nightmare I feel we are living through—except that I know that my voice can count among the many and on that basis push through, just as rising three mornings a week in the predawn light and heading to the gym is a sort of metaphor for becoming something better and stronger.

Yes. I’m in the midst of a stew—as many of us are on any given day in the cycle of life, but waking up and feeling the power of the leather hitting a heavy bag goes a long, long way towards making it all a who lot better.

10
Jan
17

Stamina

stamina

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I’ve been hitting Gleason’s Gym three days a week since the beginning of September.  The usual schedule has been to get to the gym before seven—two mornings a week, putting in around 16 rounds plus 100 sit-ups before the rush to get to the office. On Saturday mornings, I put in a longish workout to net out about 20 rounds of work plus sit-ups (150 this past Saturday), including sparring with my trainer, Lennox Blackmoore.  I also take time to stretch and get in a fair amount of schmoozing.

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Len and I having been sparring for a couple of years with some regularity, but bits of minor health issues on both sides have pushed us off the mark for the last couple of months.  We’ll certainly pick it up again, but the return to more consistent pad work, plus extra rounds on the heavy bag have given me new insights into the sweet science.

14212050_10208382068522073_5102702498388978962_nThe regular training is also a barometer on all the other aspects of health—mental and otherwise, and given that my weight’s been creeping up over the last six months (seeing the doctor on that one given that I eat and exercise about the same), it’s been interesting to measure its effect on the illusive construct of stamina.

What Len will say is stamina is a matter of mind—and there’s nothing like a hard workout at 7:00 AM to test the theory because, let’s face it, some mornings have just been awful, or have had bits of awful that flower as a chrysalis into “oh what a beautiful morning,” great.

This morning’s boxing was a case in point.  Having gotten up at 5:30—after a less than great sleep—I managed to find my way through my morning “ablutions.”  By 6:30 I was bundled against the 19 degree temperature, slowly making my way through Cadman Plaza to walk to Gleason’s, but not before stopping a minute to take a picture of the buildings and the small park set against the pre-dawn sky.

By the time I walked through the door of the gym, I was resolved to push through the tiredness I felt—but there was nothing doing, when it came to my first couple of rounds shadowing boxing.  In fact, we are talking, an “Oy, are you kidding me?” kind of creakiness as my knees crackled, my neck stiffened and barely turning from side to side, and with my supposed stamina nowhere to be found.  By the time round one with Len started, I could barely crank my arms to limply hit the pads—especially the right which earned me a cranky “wake-up, wake-up, straighten out your arm and turn your hip.”

I just nodded, wishing that I could find some pithy retort, other than to give it another go.

“Push it, push it, see.”

This from throwing the right with too much elbow sticking out from the inside.

“And turn your hip!”

“Yep, got it,” I replied, not really having got it, but figuring if I kept hitting it that way it would eventually find it’s mark.

Catching a glimpse of the clock between rounds, I did an inner groan at seeing it was only 7:35, but gamely turned to keep going at it.

By round three, it did start to make sense; it also brought me to an epiphany about stamina.  I was so busy trying to work through the task of throwing a straight right from the inside that I was starting to forget that I was tired and achy and less than enthused.  The previous workout I’d had, had been my best in weeks. I’d been peppy as I shadow-boxed for four rounds, and even peppier when Len and I went a full six rounds on the pads in the ring. Having it to ourselves meant that we really worked the corners and when it was done, I went on to the small water bag for four rounds, the doubled-ended bag for four rounds, and finished with four rounds on the speed bag before 150 sit-ups and a lot of stretching.

15107443_10208943471316792_3935173821081775570_nThe determinate in that case had been a decent night’s sleep—but for the workout at hand, something else was kicking in. Not exactly an extra gear so much as finding the space to just be. In other words, I was getting out of my own way and in doing so; tiredness, creaky bones and all of the other obstacles that had seemed fairly insurmountable began to peel away.

By the end of the fourth round I was ready to keep going—but having caught another glimpse at the clock I realized I didn’t have too much time left before I had to get going for work. Still, I remained in that moment, so to speak, as I practiced the straight right on the double-ended bag, and posed problems to myself from different angles and in different combinations from different sides.

And yes, my stamina was there. I could have kept going for many more rounds despite less than ideal sleep, and all of the other impediments that had felt like lead weights around my ankles.

I’ll be getting to the gym again tomorrow morning. With some luck, I’ll be able to pull the focus trick that’ll lead me to feeling bouncy and fit as I gyrate around the ring. And maybe if that happens enough times it’ll be more of a habit of mind than thinking that it’s only a manifestation of my physical condition—time will tell.

17
Feb
14

A day off …

A day off …

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A daily something, whether it’s work, going for a run, posting a blog piece or any of a myriad of things can bring a nice bit of order to the day–or act as a set of moments for oneself and oneself alone.

Even with that daily something, it is sometimes nice to have a day off!

Yesterday was just such a day for me–when somewhere late in the evening I realized I hadn’t blogged for the day. Yes, I could have rushed it, but the truth was–it was okay.

Sometimes that break is what we need to kick start something new.

Today, my actual day off from work (the President’s Day holiday), turned out to be a gift of another kind — one extra day at the gym.

I saw friends I rarely run into — and had another chance to box at a leisurely pace, this time going into the ring with boxing trainer, Darius Forde. With Lennox Blackmoore in my corner to coach me through it, I worked through all sorts of issues in the ring offensively and defensively — plus the different looks that Darius showed me.

The rounds on the heavy bag and upper cut bag afterwards were also something a little bit new as I worked through different boxing problems I experienced in the ring.

It got me to thinking that it’s what makes the best part of any day — working through a problem from a different angle. Rather like a piece of art — we get to enrich ourselves by creatively thinking through how best to make something work before moving along.

At any rate, as official day’s off go, it was pretty wonderful.

15
Feb
14

Back in the saddle …

Back in the saddle …

Gleason's Gym - Lennox Blackmoore

After my ring melt down last week, not to mention two snowstorms and my left wrist going all carpal tunnel on me, I didn’t necessarily have high hopes for my return to sparring this morning with Lennox Blackmoore. To be honest, I was dreading it during the middle of the week, but by yesterday, my Pollyanna attitude took over and I started to think that I had a line on how to get respectably pummeled rather than the usual total pummeling!

Getting to the gym a little early, I spent four rounds in front of the mirror working on my stance before heading over the slip rope to do exactly that … slip.

My strategy was to sit lower and use my abs more to propel my legs and to hold my body taut. It also meant that my movements were smaller and I could get my hands back faster to cover up!

By the time Len came, I was very warmed up with a good sweat and when we entered the ring I felt more in control, with tighter punches and at least s-o-m-e slipping. When it came to the dreaded right hook (yep, he was fighting me southpaw again), I still didn’t know how to handle it. By the third one I just said, “let’s stop for a minute,” and asked Len what I should do.

What he recommended was that I weave under the punch to the left and set myself up to throw a left uppercut followed by a left hook.

Talk about a wow! Who knew that old bob-and-weave actually worked as a strategy in the ring! We practiced it a few times, taking us all the way through the bell, and then went back to sparring.  Admittedly I got tagged several more times with his right, but at least I tried to weave under it–and in so doing even surprised him with a few sneaky shots of my own.

By the end of five rounds I was tired, but armed with my new (old) defense, went on the uppercut bag to practice the move some more. The challenge there was timing the bag to duck under and then come up into position to set up throwing the uppercut-hook combination. It took a while, but I actually started to get it, and then used the bag to bob-and-weave on both sides. I also worked out using my “tweaked” stance to the point where my abs actually started to ache a bit by the end of my fourth round on the bag.

Old dog, new tricks … maybe, maybe not, but I certainly felt better about things. Thinking about it as I pounded on the speed bag to close out my workout, I did at least feel as if I’d pushed things along, just enough to sense that maybe, one day, I’ll look in the mirror and actually see a boxer looking back at me!

08
Feb
14

The spirit is willing the but the body’s not!

The spirit is willing the but the body’s not!

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I had a bunch of things to do today (Saturday) — so I switched things around and trained yesterday (Friday), before going to work. The great thing was Len Blackmoore agreed to meet me early and after I warmed up with four rounds of shadowboxing, we hit the ring to spar.

Earlier in the week, I’d been at the gym working out on my own and quite frankly, was feeling pretty great: lots of rounds on the uppercut bag and four great rounds on the double-ended bag gave me a feeling of confidence that carried over as I readied to work out with Len.

Now I’m *not* saying that I was overly-confident or even mostly-confident, let’s just say, I felt as if I’d worked things out with my stance, with moving around in the ring and with slipping Len’s dreaded right hand.  Well as the saying goes, “the best laid plans …”

Right from the start I was able to throw punches, and even managed a few combinations, but nothing I seemed to be able to do defensively protected me from his punches. It’s not exactly as if I was frozen, not at all, but it became obvious that aside from deflecting jabs, no matter how I positioned myself, I was open to hooks and uppercuts.

It was only after my four rounds with Len when I observed him sparring with someone else–someone obviously more experienced in the ring–that I began to see how to work things through defensively by keeping my hands up higher and standing straighter in my stance. What I realized is that I was leaning forward, mistaking it for slipping a punch! Talk about an easy target–no wonder I was getting tagged at will from the right!

Thinking about it later I admit to feeling emotionally stung, as if all of the work I’ve been putting in has been wasted … but of course I know better.

I  just have to go back to basics.

Yep … its time to tweak the boxing stance.

So where to begin … again … grrrrr …. the MIRROR!

01
Feb
14

Back at it …

Back at it …

The heavy bags at Gleason's Gym

After a ten-day hiatus, I made it back into the gym today.

Talk about a shock! My conditioning as I entered the ring with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore was at about z-e-r-o!  But, that was to be expected after having fought off a lousy cold and its aftereffects.

Yes, I did manage to spar four rounds–but it was charity! Really. We were at half speed at best and I admit to feeling a bit light-heading as I shadow boxed. Giving into the reality of not being quite back to my usual level of fitness, after four rounds of sparring I took it slow and went three rounds on the upper cut bag and four on the speed bag before doing sit-ups.

Given the season, a lot of folks are in the throes of colds and flu and need to sort out just when to get back to the gym.

The following are some tips on how to go about it:

Klennex1. If you’ve been really sick with fever and an infection or if the virus that’s been plaguing you has left your muscles and joints achy and weak, you really should wait until your symptoms are pretty much done. You also don’t want to infect anyone else so if you’re still sneezing and coughing you should hold off until you are no longer contagious.

2. When you do head back, remember that your body has just been through an ordeal. And no–you are not going to perform to you usual ability, nor should you even if you think you can do it.  The body needs adequate time to recover. You will also need time to get your body back to its former conditioning–and depending upon the severity of your illness will require time, effort and patience.

Unknown3. Don’t think that you can immediately pound away at full speed. Whether it’s boxing, an hour of yoga, jogging in the park or working out on weight machines, cut your workout down to a reasonable time and cut yourself some slack when you find that your performance is off. No matter what shape you’re in a miserable cold is going to slow you down and your body needs time to get back to full strength. And, if you’ve had a couple of days of fever, your body has been hard at work fending of miserable germs–so it’ll take that much longer to get back to full strength.

4. Give yourself adequate recovery time, meaning if you run everyday, you don’t have to immediately get back to your normal schedule. Run on day one, rest a day, and then get back to it. In this way, you really are giving your body a chance to fully recover. Make certain that you are also keeping yourself adequately hydrated before, during and after workouts. The body can become slightly dehydrated even with a cold–which also takes time to recover from.

Most of all, remember to keep it slow and before you know it, you’ll be back at 100%!

 

30
Jan
14

Out of steam …

Out of steam …

http://www.indigoarchitect.com/2012/03/28/design-connects-when-we-connect/brooklyn_bridge_march_snow-2/trackback/ - See more at: http://www.indigoarchitect.com/2012/03/28/design-connects-when-we-connect/brooklyn_bridge_march_snow-2/#sthash.ANheta6T.dpuf

As with many other New Yorkers … the unrelenting quality of the cold has gotten to me and while I have nothing against the month of January (as if a month could have something wrong with it), I’ll be glad to see the end of it!

With one more day to go (tomorrow) before hitting February, my only conciliation is knowing that at least the days are getting longer. Yes, of course, how can one forget that February is known as the cruelest month–short, but still winter. At least time we will be moving forward towards the first hints of spring, even if there are a few more snowstorms and gray, dank days that linger in the low 20s.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been fairly housebound for a week when I haven’t been at work–making the 15 minutes walk from house to office dressed up in my best impression of a dark mummy with layer upon layer shrouding my head to maintain enough warm to keep my glasses foggy, but not too moist so as to totally cloud my vision, all in attempt to keep banish any hint of cold air from my lungs.

The truth is what I need is a good two hours at the gym to work through the mean “oukies” that have taken over and banished my Pollyanna smile. And, while I’ve loved binge-watching Scandal (who knew it could be soooooo good), I really do need to get motivated before I become permanently attached to the couch.

Well anyway, if I can’t be at the gym–or be in anyway fit for company–I can always try and find it in the movies.

 




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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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