Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Learning the Differences Between Boxercise and Boxing

Teeth are important. I've still got all of mine and I'd like it to remain that way, especially since I had so much work done on them in my teens (jaws broken and re-set, wired together for weeks, that sort of thing). And so I will no longer be taking part in the UWCB match on June 25th. This was not an easy decision to make but it is the sensible one. Let me rewind a bit...

I started my training with UWCB at the beginning of May. I'd only ever done Boxercise before which doesn't include much in the way of defence and no contact apart from between gloves and pads, so this was going to be new ground for me. I was really excited. The first session I went to was actually the second of the free training sessions we were given in return for taking part. There were two a week, Thursdays at 8:30pm and Saturdays at 8:30am and I was determined to make them all. The first Saturday saw us outside on the astro turf pitch. We started with a warm up along the lines of what I do with my RunFit group, but longer, then were put through some HIIT training including lots of press ups, burpees, twinkle toes, tuck jumps and air punches. Only three lots of three minutes but we were sweating buckets by the end. It wasn't easy but I held my own. Cardio I can do.
Then we were paired up to practice our stance, moves and jab punches. Remembering to keep my guard up was hard work, and I felt as though I was tripping over my feet the whole time. Another side effect of Boxercise was getting into a rhythm. It's all very well punching to a beat in a cardio class but no one's going to come at you in a choreographed fashion in the ring so that was another habit that needed breaking.
Our Saturday and midweek sessions were taken by different instructors although the format remained the same. I much preferred the midweek tutor as he was less "blokey" and managed to give us a "beasting" without resorting to picking on people. The Thursday night sessions also felt more educational and I felt able to ask questions without feeling daft. I started to get a bit more comfortable with faux-hitting my partner (although we were both still apologising to each other) as we learnt hooks and upper cuts as well as how to slip, roll and block without hitting ourselves in the face.

I started to see a bit of a change in my figure. I felt fitter and more confident in myself but I was still nervous about fight night. Chatting to the other girls in the group helped, finding out what their motivations were. After a couple of sessions I think we were all sizing each other up, figuring out who we'd like to be paired with. We would get no say in that, our opponent would be chosen by the coaching team. Of course there were far more guys than girls in the group but there was a definite split between those who wanted to test themselves and those who just wanted to hit stuff.
 Every week someone would ask the question "when will we start sparring?" and after three weeks the answer came "next week - so make sure you have your mouth guards". I had been given one in my starter pack but it was too big. I couldn't wear it without gagging. One of the other girls told me that they were inexpensive from Sports Direct so I bought one, only to discover that none seemed to be suitable for use with braces. I've got a fixed brace on the back of my upper front six teeth. It's there for life. So what to do? I couldn't spar without a mouth guard and a standard one wouldn't do. There was one online specialist who claimed theirs were suitable but failed to reply to my query about front versus back braces. The other option was a specially made one from the dentist at £180 and a week wait *after* the appointment to have the cast made. Although technically affordable, it was ultimately a question of time. At best it was a loss of two weeks training, giving me another two weeks before stepping in the ring. Not enough, in my opinion.
So I threw in the towel. I didn't really want to but it was the sensible option. I was really enjoying the training. I was enjoying seeing my fitness level go up in a different way and learning new skills. The thought of getting in the ring was somewhat exhilarating but it wasn't the be all and end all. Good news for my parents who were all for me getting another motorbike rather than fight (a sentiment not expressed lightly). My housemate has just started kickboxing so maybe that's something I could try instead, although I miss the goal element of training. So for now, boxing is put to one side. For now.

Last week's training was as follows:
Saturday: parkrun
Sunday: Rest day
Monday: Marathon
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: 1km swim
Thursday: 3 mile run
Friday: Rest day

Any suggestions of a replacement activity? Something not requiring a mouth guard but involving similar fitness elements?

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