Badass: Middle-Aged Edition

My friend Mary invited me to beat the hell out of a punching bag on her birthday.

The advanced class at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping started at 7 a.m. I grumbled when my alarm clock buzzed at 5:55 a.m., but was humbled later when I saw people leaving after the 6 o’clock class, cheery and glowing with good health.

“I can’t believe it’s seven on a Saturday morning, and I’ve already finished my workout for the day,” one woman commented giddily to another in the locker room.

I smiled. That’s right, I’m about to be a badass, too!

Loud, upbeat music flooded the studio as the instructor began shouting out exercises. The other 20 or so people had been working out six days a week for at least six months, Mary told me. Some have been attending classes for a year or more.

Meaning they were all in better shape than I was. I sucked in my gut.

The warm up consisted of a series a jabs and high-knee lifts in time to the beat. Mary and I marched in place as she instructed me on how to wind the cloth wraps tightly around my hands, in preparation for wearing boxing gloves. Mine were pink. “Tighter!” she yelled above the music as I struggled to get it done. “Tighter!”

Mary appointed herself my personal trainer, barking orders at me as the class moved quickly from exercise to exercise using a variety of different colored stretch bands for strength-training. I was grateful for the extra attention because it was clear to anyone watching that I didn’t know what I was doing.

While we cranked out a series of shoulder and arm exercises, I thought, Wow, I’m already tired, and looked up at the clock.

It was 7:10.

Holy crap.

The class got better. By better, I mean harder. When we reached the end of the 75-minute class, after the promised beat-the-hell-out-of-the-punching-bag session with jabs, hooks, upper cuts and whatever that thing is you do when you hit the bag with your leg, my body was drenched in sweat, my hair had slipped out of a bun and hung down in my face, and my arms quivered as we held a plank for a minute and a half.

Or at least they did. I lasted about 45 seconds.

The instructor congratulated everyone as he started the cool down, and I shouted “Happy Birthday, Mary!” She fist bumped me with her boxing-gloved hands, and I felt like I had completed some sort of extra credit Virgo initiation, since my birthday was six days earlier.

When I walked out into the cool air of that sunny morning, I felt cheery and glowing with good health. So much so that I decided to hike up the hill near my house, adding another 60 minutes of exercise to the day.

Yeah, that’s right, I thought, as I headed home to ice my left heel and right knee. I’m a badass, too.

Katherine Valdez writes about embarrassing yet educational life experiences. Subscribe to her blog by typing your email address in the Follow box at www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com/blog. (About two posts per month.)

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