Cardio-kickboxing is the only workout I don’t abhor. The classes are grueling, but I don’t spend the entire time beseeching the clock to jump ahead, compromising the longevity of the universe. Chuck Norris may never ask for my autograph, but damnit, my roundhouse and upper-cuts aren’t half bad. And to prove it, I’ll never ask him for his.
One morning I mistakenly went to boxing class rather than cardio-kickboxing. When I walked into the room, I realized immediately that something was awry. The landscape, usually populated by my cardio-compatriots sporting trendy sneakers, was instead filled with hard-muscled bodies pummeling the shit out punching bags. Animalistic grunts echoed against the walls. The instructor, a dead ringer for Sigourney Weaver, was unfamiliar to me. Looking up from a pile of boxing gloves, she called out, “Hi. What’s your name?”
I’d been awake for all of 36 minutes. My hair was matted in some places, boinging out in others. My socks didn’t match, and my brain still felt like it was wrapped in gauze. Identifying myself by name cut sharply across the grain of my wishes.
“June,” I muttered, looking down at my feet.
The woman cupped her ear. “What’s that?”
“June,” I repeated, a blush spreading across my face.
“Okay, June.” She tossed me two boxing gloves. “Give the speed bag a go. I’ll be over in a few minutes.”
Looking longingly toward the door, I slipped on the gloves and jabbed at the bag. It swung mockingly, eluding further contact. I punched pitifully at the air, like I was being swarmed by killer mosquitoes. The instructor, noting my ineptitude, made her way over.
“Maybe you should start with a non-moving target,” she said. “Come over here.” She picked up a padded paddle, held it in out in front of her and said, “Take a good shot at this.”
Wanting only to flee, I gave it a half-hearted punch.
The instructor lowered the paddle. “I know that’s not the best you can do. Give it another shot. And put some power behind it.”
I gave the paddle a slightly harder punch.
“That’s a little better, Liz,” the instructor said. “But remember, when you’re in the ring…”
Two points: One, this woman had forced me to identify myself by name, then called me Liz. Two, I wasn’t planning to get into a ring. Ever.
When she held the paddle up again, I began punching it in earnest.
“Whoa,” she said. “Be careful. You don’t want to hit my face.”
The truth was, I wanted desperately to hit her face. So hard she’d forget her own name. I thought of Sigourney, battling aliens in space. She’d be able to take it.
“Listen,” I said. “I think I’m going to head down to the treadmills.”
“Well, alright, Liz. But your jab is pretty good. Consider coming back sometime.”
“Okay,” I lied, thinking I’d sooner try drowning myself in my bathtub. “Maybe I will.”
It think it bears repeating: my name is June. I will never set foot in a ring.