I stood in the changing room with a puddle of lycra around my feet having just pulled out the contents of my gym bag to check that the trainers weren’t hiding in the mobile phone pocket or inside a sock. Nope. Definitely trainer-less. Not even invisible or miniature trainers in THIS gym bag.
I obviously looked confused about my missing trainers as an instructor asked me what was wrong. I explained my lack of footwear but multitude of lycra and she suggested the boxing circuits class.
Hmmm ... Let’s think about this.
Complete lack of upper body strength? Check.
Dangerously uncoordinated? Check.
Interest in Rocky films? Nil.
What could go wrong?
I turned up to the class and had a chat to the instructor. He confirmed that shoeless would be fine, but I might want to remove my socks also unless I fancied doing the equivalent of ice skating on the smooth floor. I’m all for cross training but I didn’t think boxing and skating would complement each other very well.
Luckily for me, the first thing I had to do was skipping. Girls are GOOD at skipping. Even uncoordinated ones like me. Well obviously when I say good, I only mean good compared to the average bloke whose skipping skills can be compared to his flower arranging skills. The facial expressions in the class ranged from ‘panic’ to ’what the hell am I supposed to do with this?’ as each person was handed a skipping rope.
After a brief session of skipping and tripping, we were handed a pair of boxing gloves. And given the warning “Whatever you do, don’t sniff the gloves.” Why would they need to warn us not to sniff gloves? Are we MEANT to sniff gloves? Am I missing something?
Trust me on this DO NOT SNIFF THE GLOVES.
While we were all occupied working out how to put the gloves on, the instructor was setting out a circle of innocent-looking equipment. A trampoline, a mat, a step, a mat, a stepper machine, a mat. two squished hedgehog ball things, a mat, BOSU ball, a punchbag. All sound pretty innocuous, right?
And they are innocent and innocuous. Unless your instructor wants you to do mental things like getting a six-pack and actually working hard towards this. Can’t I work slightly hard and get a new handbag instead?
The worklist was this:
Sprint on a trampoline and and do jabs with each step. Yep mental.
Crunches with jabs as you sit up. Not quite so much crunchy as squeaky towards the end.
A step with jabs each time you step up. Like step class but with boxing. I struggle enough with step class - this was an uncoordinated girl’s NIGHTMARE. The instructor stopped this early for fear of me giving myself a black eye and a bloody nose.
Two squishy things like punctured footballs with spikes to stand on. Looked a bit like rubber hedgehogs. I could stand on them OR do jabbing moves. Not both. Again my coordination skills took a beating.
Stepper with jabs. Not only did I have to not fall off the stepper, I had to keep my legs moving at the same speed and do jabs. Like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. I looked like I was riverdancing and attempting a Mexican Wave. Not pretty.
BOSU ball with jabs. A BOSU ball is like half a beach ball. Had to stand on this without falling off and make punching movements. Sigh.
I started on the mat: This was crunches with 2 jabs every time I sat up. There was a brief pause after the first one as the keys in the back pocket of my gym shorts ended up where you really didn’t want keys to be. It’s a lot more difficult to get things out of your pocket wearing boxing gloves. I probably should have taken the gloves off first, rather than pawing ineffectually at my own backside in the hope the keys would disentangle themselves from my underwear.
The class would probably have been pretty entertaining to watch, but I felt humiliated. Not only could I not get my arms and legs moving independently, I was at all times in mortal fear of injuring myself with my own flailing limbs. So my legs were doing the equivalent of a riverdance, my arms were attempting to punch but I was cringing away from my own hands and at the same time trying not to fall off the step / mat / stepper machine / trampoline. It was basically the adult’s version of 3rd year PE class.
Also the punchbag. It didn’t do what it did in films. In films, boxers hit the punchbag, it makes a satisfying ‘thwack’ noise and swings around, at which point the film hero does some awesome quick punches and looks cool. This is LIES. This doesn’t happen. Or it didn’t for me anyway. When I hit the punchbag, it didn’t move. It made a noise like ‘pfft’ and that was it. Basically I got farted at by a punchbag. I was scared of my own hands and getting sarcastic comments from the gym equipment.
In a fog of fear, humiliation and sweat, I managed to get the circuit done. Not only had I not injured myself, everyone else had managed to avoid my waving limbs, I hadn’t thrown up, wet myself AND I hadn’t fallen off the trampoline. I was expecting a boxing contract any second. Or a ‘well done’ badge at the very least.
Then the instructor informed us we had to do it all over again.