When MTV’s MADE premiered in the early 2000s, teenagers became infatuated with the idea of transforming into someone else. We saw people being coached into cheerleaders, opera singers, BMX riders and so on. Whenever I would tune in for a dose of reality television, I always imagined what it would be like to be “made” into a fighter of some type.
Now in my mid-twenties, I know that MTV producers won’t come knocking at my studio apartment to dramatically change my life. I also know that as a freelance writer/nonprofit professional with no significant athletic background, a fighting career just isn’t in the cards for me. I’ve thrown a drunken punch in my day, but I know that the only way I’ll be able to legally hit someone is to take a few boxing classes.
Thanks to my incredible 24 Hour Fitness membership — somehow I secured all access/any level at any location in the country for $25 a month — I’ve been able to shop around when it comes to classes and personal trainers. I knew that a generic sixty-minute kickboxing class wasn’t going to teach me what I wanted to know, so when I walked into my local 24 Hour Fitness after work, I told the front-desk attendant that I “wanted to hit the bag,” and I needed someone to show me how to not break my wrist. Cue my introduction to wrestler/jiu jitsu fighter/24 Hour trainer Ben Swan.
With most trainers, the first session is usually spent filling out paperwork, talking about health and fitness goals, and scheduling the actual session where you’ll break a sweat. After just a few signatures, though, Ben was wrapping my hands and shoving them into gloves.
After an embarrassing warmup that consisted of me walking on my tiptoes and bouncing my arms up and down across the entire length of a basketball court and darting back and forth in a boxing stance — left foot always forward — we quickly moved on to hitting pads. Within 45 minutes, we had gone through a series of footwork, punches and jabs, and Swan was throwing on a padded suit so that I could hit him. Though I had no previous knowledge of any boxing vocabulary, something clicked in my brain so that I was able to accurately and physically respond to his calls of, “One, one, two!”
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Since it was my first class, I obviously owned no boxing equipment; I had used the gym’s wraps and a beat-up pair of gloves. As soon as we had ended the session, some guy picked up the gloves, sweat and all, to start his own personal attack on the heavy bag. It was obvious that if I were to continue down this boxing road, I’d need to buy my own wraps, at the very least.
I’ve now had three boxing sessions at 24 Hour Fitness over the past few weeks, and I've secured a certain level of badassery. Following Swan's instructions, I bought 180-inch hand wraps and connected with a local mixed martial arts fighter who was selling performance-level Revgear gloves — which for some reason I named Phil and Lil.
In roughly three hours of boxing training, I’ve learned different fighting combinations and added covering and rolling (ducking and avoiding the incoming hit while winding up a punch of my own) to my skill set. Since Swan and I have been doing some of our workout on the actual gym floor, I’ve gained a level of confidence to go into the gym on my own to practice double-end bag drills.
I’m going to have to adjust my budget to allow for more boxing training, especially if I plan on continuing with Twerkshop at Tease Studio. For now, I’ll just create a Spotify playlist of all the songs I’ll never actually walk out to in a professional fight.