Monday, December 14, 2009

Playing with the Boys

When I was 5, my parents signed me up for karate (OK, my Dad signed me up for karate). I liked it. I thought the uniforms were cool. I was good at standing up very straight and being somberly quiet while the teacher was talking, and this was thought to be an indicator of good discipline, which is of paramount importance for an aspiring karate kid. With any luck, I thought, I could be the next Daniel-son. There was just one problem . . . I wasn't a "son." I was a girl, the only one in the class.

Fast forward 25 years and I'm still attempting to spar with the boys; this time, in a boxing class at the New York Athletic Club, one of the oldest athletic clubs in the country. Last month, Om Bro suggested we jump in the ring, and I thought, 'What better way for siblings to do some adult bonding than to punch each other in the face?' Kidding, of course. If Reece punched me in the face, I'd be knocked out quicker than someone on Ambien [insert obvious Tiger Woods joke of choice, here]. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure that showing up to my photo shoot the next day for Reader's Digest with a shiner would have been poor form.

When it came to my fighting form, however, I held my own, save for the times I needed to put my knees on the floor during the hundreds of push-ups we did, including countless sets on our fists and finger tips. The workout was grueling, featuring 10 sets of 2 minutes of punching a heavy bag nonstop. Despite the badass wrist wraps that our Ukrainian coach Sergei put around my hands, both wrists felt like they might snap only halfway through the series. Had I stayed for the full two hours (I thought class was only an hour and thus made plans to meet NYC Gal for lunch), who knows what kind of state I'd be in. As it was, my hands were quivering for more than hour afterward, which significantly impeded my ability to text or properly lift a fork (two staple activities for me). So, you know, this was serious stuff.

In general, I loved pushing my fitness limits and learning to throw a proper hook, but more than that, the experience made me reflect on how gender affects our workout choices, preferences, and performance. Have you ever been the only guy in a yoga class? The only gal in the company golf tournament? Do you prefer all-female health clubs? Have you ever been intimidated by a workout you wanted to try because of your gender? I would love to hear your experiences or insights, guys and gals.

Or, if you're boxer, feel free to share some pointers. My upper cut needs work.


nifer said...

I used to be the only gal working out in the free weight room at my old gym. It made for good watching during my strength training!

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