All You Need Is Glove – Reclaiming My Post-Partum Body through Kickboxing
Did I have a perfect body before having a baby? No. After a month-plus of HIIT (high intensity interval training) Kick kickboxing classes, do I have a Bond Girl bod? No. Would I have a Bond Girl bod if I made it to the studio several days in a row over a month-plus? Maybe. What I am certain of, is that their fast-paced method definitely works.
As I drive to my first Saturday morning class, I blast Muhammad Ali’s “I Am The Greatest” as loud as I can in the car. My knowledge of kickboxing is zero, but I am hoping to channel a tiny fragment of Ali’s legendary prize-fighting energy. This is my first solo excursion since the birth of my child four months earlier, and the idea of gloving up and getting in the ring is both terrifying and incomprehensible. My body is weak. My mind is on one thing only: my baby boy. Score: Kickboxing 4, Laura 0.
As Ali chants, “I Am The Greatest,” all I can think is, “My Son Is The Greatest and I wish I was with him right now and not driving to a kickboxing class.” My imagination ricochets between images of my husband and baby needing me; Mark Wahlberg and Sly Stallone duking it out in the ring; and worse, scenes of a place where everyone is an aspirational, super-ripped millennial just staring at me, judging. The thought of turning around and going home is very compelling, but for the tiny voice reminding me of the need to grow stronger; to be the best me, wife, and mother that I could. Score: Kickboxing: 9, Laura: 3.
In just about the fastest hour I can recall, I was glistening from the salinized glow of an energizing workout. I found myself on all fours pounding a mat with two fists chanting the studio’s closing mantra with my classmates who ranged from teen to middle aged. “HIIT Hard. Get Strong!” The studio was nothing like I had imagined. If Marie Kondo designed a gym, this would be it. The small, simple studio sparks joy with its bright, clean, and happy aura. Mirrored walls reflect the light from outside, the floor is padded for comfort and peppered with standing punching bags. A tidy bin of loaner boxing gloves sits next to a neat row of shoes.
The workout itself is usually run by one of the studio owners, Suzie or Amy, along with another instructor. The first half of class is devoted to timed, lightning rounds of fast-burst floor exercises that target the whole body. In my first class, gasping for air between the mountain climber series and jumping jack planks, I seriously considered walking out, but I took in the smiles and collective earnestness of the group and was motivated to keep going.
The second half of class came with its own unique set of challenges: choreography. The gloves were on, and it was me versus a large, cylindrical leather punching bag. Jab. Jab. Cross. Pause. Jab. Hook? Uppercut? Thankfully, an instructor was nearby to guide me, and my fellow newbies through the swift round of kicks, jabs, hooks, and roundhouses. At the next class, the fast pace of the exercises and hard boxing sequences seemed less breath-shortening and more enjoyably challenging.
By classes three, four, and beyond, the spirit of happy energy, good people, and challenging choreography benefited both my physique and mind. During one session, it was being sandwiched between an indefatigable twelve-year-old boy and a slightly disheveled mom—both of whom pushed through every move without stopping—that kept me going. In another class, it was the thrill of successfully holding a feet-on-the-punching-bag-base-plank that kept me going to the end.
I realized that getting back in motion for an hour a week of kickboxing and high intensity interval training while being surrounded by the class’s positive energy had really lifted me up. I found myself being more active at home: cooking, using our stationary bike, taking walks, and going on more family expeditions to restaurants and cultural events.
One night, while driving home from a particularly energizing class, I couldn’t stop smiling as I thought about the motto on the HIIT Kick Fitness Studio t-shirt: “All You Need Is Glove.”
BOXED IN Boxing dates back to Egyptian times around 3,000 BC. The Greeks thenembraced the sport in the late 7th century BC when boxing was included in the Olympic Games.