kicking (my own) butt and taking names (translation: using lots of icy hot)

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Hiii-YAH! Precious Readers!

<Makes old school dubbed kung fu movie noises at you!>

I’m a huge fan of Groupon* and Living Social*. Being currently unattached to any work, and at the moment being solely on Pilot’s teaching salary, it’s fairly obvious we are a couple with a limited budget. Those two websites allow me to try new experiences locally without having to pay exorbitant amounts of membership fees.

My most recent adventure has been to enter the world of kickboxing.

That’s right, kickboxing. Stop laughing. Please stop laughing.

As I may have mentioned before, quality time with my father consisted of a few activities together: fishing, watching action movies, and WWF Wrestling. (When it was still WWF.) There were many nights of us lounging in our family room, my dad in his “Dad Chair” and me sprawled out on the couch. He’d sip his Pepsi, and I’d be yelling and waving my arms around. (The phrase, “Give ’em the CHAIR! GIVE ‘EM THE CHAIR!” may have been heard from my lips from time to time.)

As part of the Groupon, I received free kickboxing gloves, and one private tutorial before my additional four general classes. My friend Glamazon joined me in this new adventure. Now, the thing to know about Glamazon is she is in good shape. She does yoga and athletic pole dancing, (for fun, not for career), keeping up with both on the regular. Me? Well, I’ve just gotten to the point where I can do a 2 mile hike (walk) without feeling like I’m dying, but that’s about it.

Now, before I get into this subject on a deeper level, I’d like to do a light, general overview of the experience, and point out we arrived at I Love Kickboxing – Kirkland* last Friday, meeting our one-time personal instructor for the day. Glamazon and I worked through the various combinations of jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts. Later, we added front and roundhouse kicks into the mix with our punches. Glamazon and I watched ourselves barely move the bag, it minimally wobbling to and fro with each hit. The others had knocked their bags over further, and easily, but were also friendly to newcomers. (Greatly appreciated!) The thing I liked most was the atmosphere. The instructors were positive and encouraging, but paid careful attention to make sure they didn’t push us over the edge.

Having said that I’d like to point out if you weren’t paying attention to your own body, you might end up hurting yourself. (Foreshadowing much?)

Now… the details. Let’s get to it:

Our first lesson, a personal tutorial, was a bit longer than I expected. Glamazon and I were given an intense interrogation about our “fitness goals” and asked about our previous “workout experiences” by a woman who was a 1/2 foot shorter and 1/3 my width. I dubbed her “mini-structor.” (She also looked strong enough to pick me up and throw me across the room.) Unsure that my “fitness goal” to become a ninja assassin badass warrior goddess would seem realistic, and that my (recent) “workout experiences” consisted of “Computer Nerd Couch Potato who walks her dog 4 times a day” would suffice, I just said I wanted to get healthier and stronger.

Our gloves were black, and the tiny, strong lady Ministructor gave us silver Sharpies to mark each pair as ours. (I’m still mentally creating a design to draw on them in the future, but for now I stuck with my name.) She led us over to pairs of colored wraps to protect our hands, wrists and knuckles with. It was a custom shelf that looked like a display stand for packs of gum was next to the front desk, featuring little bundles of fabric in a variety of colors.

“Pick a color you like,” she said.

I looked at the various pairs of spools.

Glamazon immediately selected a set in deep royal blue, matching her outfit in a cool way. Not stepford-wifey way. (She has always had a laid back confidence I’d give my left eye for.)

Then, it was my turn. A stab of anxiety kicked in from childhood bringing fear of “what others think” through my mind. A (now rare) occurrence of wanting to please everyone poured over me. I wanted them to know I took this class seriously. That I was truly interested in this method of workout. That even though my fitness goals seemed only a (tiny) bit unrealistic, that my overall foundation of my goal was to be fit quickly and maintain it as long as possible for the latter half of my lifespan.

In a mere 1.5 seconds, the following train of thought went through my mind:

Wraps are important. Your hands are your livelihood!
Oh no! Oh no!
My instructor will judge me on the color I pick! Must make the correct choice!
Let’s see.

Red! Red? Yes, red!
No! Red seems too “I’ve watched to many Bruce Lee films.”

Gray!
Gray?
Who chooses gray? Probably those a bit cooler than me, but oh well. I like bright colors. So, sue me.

Pink!
No!
Pink is too girly. I don’t want them to think I’m not serious. But I don’t want them to think I’m not feminine! But I wasn’t feminine as a kid. I’m feminine now, but that’s beside the point. Just skip over it.

Blue!
Blue is 
a good choice! You like blue! Blue was your favorite color for years!
Wait!
Glamazon picked out blue! I don’t want to copy her. I don’t want her to think I’m copying her. Maybe I should pick it to show I don’t care and that I like blue and that I know they know I’m copying when I’m really not, and I just happen to also like blue. My wallet is blue. A lot of my clothes are blue. Most of my jeans are blue. 
But…I don’t want to appear like I can’t think on my own. I’m an INDIVIDUAL! BE AN INDIVIDUAL!

Black!
Black’s the go-to badass color! Instant cool! It’s the color of (p)leather jackets! Motorcyclists! James Dean! Bikers!
Wait… Bikers? I don’t want to look like a biker. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying too hard either.
 Black seems too obvious a choice, like a poser trying to look like a badass when I want to be a real badass!

White?
Idiot! When have I ever been successful with white clothing? I have a permanent stain trend between my boobs from where I drop food on all of my white t-shirts. White will get dirty and gross! I don’t want to smell bleach while I’m working out. I’ll puke! Puking would be bad. 
Oh crap. Why are you thinking about puking? Stop thinking about puking!

I stamped down my 0-60 in 1.5 seconds panic attack to remember that I’m a cool, sophisticated woman. This is an easy decision.

Pfft! Sophisticated. If the conversation you just had with yourself is any indication, you should spend half of your time in your office/cave where you aren’t a conversational danger to yourself and others.

I let the logical side of my brain take over, and turned my head to our instructor for the day.

Me: These are wraps for our hands, right?
Instructor: Yes, they are.
Me: And the wraps go inside of our kickboxing gloves, right?
Instructor: Yes.
Me: So… No one sees whatever color you pick out… right?
Instructor: <pauses for beat> Yes, that’s true.

I grabbed the yellow wraps figuring those would be an easy color to spot from anywhere, so I wouldn’t have to hunt/dig for them in the vastness of my bag. Problem solved!

Hard part was over, now it was time for class!

WELCOME TO THUNDERDOME!

k-1We entered the workout area, which had 8 standing punching bags, 4 in each row.

Glamazon and I selected a corner so we and our Ministructor for the day wouldn’t interrupt others working out.

In previous class workouts I’ve tried, I naturally assumed there’d be a bit of light jogging and stretching. Then, we’d get to smack the crap out of the punching bags. Maybe throw in a few spin-kicks and learn how to decapitate someone with our foot. You know, normal first day stuff.

The general class instructor cranked up the high paced techno. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan, but eventually there was some Metallica mixed in with the bubble gum pop techno, so I figured I could deal with the music factor.

Ok! Let’s jog in a circle!
Sure, no problem. This was expected. What major workout doesn’t begin with a gentle run? Warm up and loosen those muscles a little. Remember to keep your shoulders back and chest open. Swing those arms. Loosen up your shoulders a little. All is right with the world. Let’s do this!

Ok, now for some walking lunges!
Oh, stretching out hips and thighs. Sure, that makes sense. We’re going to be kicking stuff. Wouldn’t want to pull a groin. Do girls have groins? I know guys do. Ugh, stop thinking about guy groins, that’s weird. Wait, do girls have groins? I know I have hips… Well, anyone within 5 miles can clearly see I have hips, but I’m trying to reduce that factor. That’s why I’m here. Duh. At least I’m done thinking about groins. Doh!

Next up: Let’s go down to a plank!
Oh. Ok. No big deal. That totally makes sense. Boxing requires a lot of use of your core and shoulders. Of course, we’d be doing planks. Wait, people are planking on their fists/knuckles. That’s… odd. Never seen that before. But our fists have to be ninja warrior strong, right? Right. Ok, onto the knuckles we go. This is weird. This feels really weird. Feeling that in the abs a bit. Ok, quite a bit. A lot. Feeling it in the abs a LOT.

Now: Squats!
Squats? <Performs deep squats.> This is tougher. Not marginally tougher, significantly tougher. Huh. I wonder if this is what childbirth feels like. My ass and legs are on fire. What’s that, personal instructor? Keep my back straight and engage my core? My core? I don’t have a core, unless you figure me as an apple core. Or just an apple. Yeah, I’m probably an apple. Are we going to punch stuff soon?

Now let’s step it up…
Uh… Step what up? The squats weren’t the hard part?
…I want you to do 5 seconds of squats, then jump back into a plank for 5 seconds, and repeat!
Uh… Really? I thought I was going to turn into Muhammed Ali. I thought I was going to turn into a vampire killer like Buffy. I thought I’d be Jennifer Garner in Alias. When do we get to hit things? Ooh! This is hurting! This is really hurting! <Looks at Glamazon> She looks a little winded, but she’s in good shape. My muscles are starting to shake and hurt. Not sure if my knees can take this.

All right! Now…
Please say punching. Please say punching. Please say punching!
Everyone’s favorite… <Class Groans>
Why are they groaning? Panic is setting in.
I saved the best for last, our toughest part!
Toughest part…? Oh… Crap.

BURPEES! 2 minutes of Burpees everyone! Let’s see if you can do 20! Let me see you do 20!
Oh my gosh. It’s a Plank + Squat + Jump combo. A workout created by a dude who was in prison. And they’re doing it fast. Body in pain. Body is hurting. Body is burning. Oh, Dear Lord! Help me! I apologize for everything bad I’ve ever done, intentionally or not. I apologize for not being “fruitful and multiplying”! I’ll give my mom grandchildren if it means I never have to do this again! I mean, hey! Those squats might be useful, right? I’ll walk my dog 8 times a day! I’ll find a way to make money and sponsor one of those starving children in other parts of the world! I’ll join a nunnery! Wait, I’m married. I’ll support the nunnery!

Great job!
Oh, thank you, God!

Now let’s see if you can make it a total of 40 BURPEES!

I. AM. GOING. TO. DIE.

After ~20 minutes of experiencing the Seventh Circle of Hell, the instructors decided that was the perfect time to introduce us as to why I had made the choice to come to this dungeon of pain. I did a mental checklist of how I was doing:

  • Body = Exhausted
  • Energy = Gone
  • Arms = Useless. Listless. Dangling at my sides.
  • Legs = On fire from being in this hell pit.

This was the “Warm Up.”

I repeat: This was the warm up.

Punching and kicking didn’t mean much from this point forward. It was a piece of cake compared to what I’d just subjected my body to. Glamazon was wiped out. It wasn’t just me, thank God. It was truly as challenging as I thought it was.

The next morning, I awoke to being in the worst pain of my life. There wasn’t enough Icy Hot cream in the galaxy to save me. I can’t quite fully describe this. It was prickly, sharp, tingly, burning, and stiff like rigor mortis set in 30 years too early. This pain beat out my previous neck surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, including the required 2 weeks of not being able to lie flat and a month of not being able to drive a car due to my inability to turn my head left and right.

I live in an apartment building requiring me to use a flight of stairs to get to ground level. Stepping down required courage I didn’t know existed mentally as I wanted to cry with each step. The stairs took me 3 minutes longer than my typical 15 seconds. I wanted to sell my soul instead of walk my dog.

Two days after hellfire, I was able to go down the stairs without a soul sacrifice. I’d be willing to sell off some appendages instead. Perhaps both of my legs signaling their unwillingness to perform their expected function of, you know, walking. I texted Glamazon to check in with her.

Text from Glamazon: Arse and legs are in pain. It hurts to sit down.

Sounded as if she was faring as well as I was.

By the third day, I was at the soreness level I’d expected to experience on my first day of recovery and was 90% back to normal.

Believe it or not, I went back on Monday.

Yes. I went back.

How I thought I looked:
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How I actually looked:
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Monday’s workout we focused more on ab work. Although we’d done a variety of crunches, sit ups, and sit up + leg lift combos, on Friday, we did more of those and more planks this time. I no longer had my PI, but I almost liked that better. Without someone directly in my face, telling me to push, I was able to think more about what was pushing my body harder vs. trying to slowly kill myself.

Tuesday morning I had the appropriate amount of soreness, showing I could challenge my muscles without becoming immobile for a weekend.

Now that I was no longer experiencing being trapped in my own body of pain, the second attempt allowed me to focus if I actually enjoyed the activity.

You know what? I think I do. I think I actually enjoy hitting something, kicking something, and knowing that I’m receiving proper instruction to not hurt myself. The only one who can hurt me, is me by taking my body over the line of workout vs. torture. I have a couple more lessons to go before my Groupon is used up. I may have to discuss with Pilot the ability to continue, or find a location a bit closer to our home. (Commuting to Kirkland is a bit far for me.)

Lessons Learned:

  • Water/Electrolyte Water. I can’t stress how much more you think you will need. Take breaks if you need to, even if you’re in the middle of a set. You’re going to sweat. A LOT. Also, drink a lot of water after class as well. And the next day.
  • Stretching/Cool Downs. I firmly believe you must do additional stretching immediately after this, even before getting into your car to go home. Once you’re at home, go on a 15+ minute walk or something for a longer cool down. This is key!
  • Make sure you eat a few hours before class. Something that will give you lots of energy. The first class, I felt every bit of energy drain because I hadn’t provided the right amount of calories to burn and got dizzy. Second class, I was much more prepared with eating the right kind of foods before working out so intensively.
  • DO NOT GO EVERY DAY. At maximum, kickbox every other day. Your muscles need time to recover, and if you do kickboxing too often, you could dangerously injure yourself.
  • Get the wraps, and learn how to wrap your hands properly. It’ll be worth it. I had no idea hands could sweat so much, and this will protect your hands, wrists, and knuckles, along with preventing blisters. They’re easy to hand wash.

I highly recommend I Love Kickboxing – Kirkland. The instructors are knowledgeable, friendly, albeit some are a bit pushy about the memberships – but most anything requesting memberships typically are (Just give them a kind, “No.”), and enjoy giving your own, personal smackdown! I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the location due to the commute time it puts on me, but I recommend it if traveling to Kirkland isn’t a big deal to you.

*This review of Groupon, Living Social, and I Love Kickboxing – Kirkland is by my own free will, and not endorsed by Groupon, Living Social, or I Love Kickboxing – Kirkland. I was not asked to provide a review.

Have you ever tried kickboxing?
What were your favorite/least favorite experiences working out?
What other forms of exercise do you like?
What are your fitness goals? (Are you hoping to become a badass ninja warrior assassin like me?)

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