How About Some Pie?

Have you ever had a humbling experience? You know, your silly pride was fed a big fat slice of humble pie. I had a slice last Friday.

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Since a teen, I have always admired boxers. Their conditioning is insane. Don’t get offended MMA fans, when I was a teen, MMA was not what it is today. I’m talking way back in the 80’s, when the most popular one on one combat sport was boxing.

Boxers are in incredible shape. They are strong, very strong, and have incredible levels of cardiovascular fitness. And just as impressive as their fitness levels is that they train their asses off on low calories (minimal food), because many of them have to weigh in the day before a fight at a weight that can be light for their height. Imagine being 5’11” and having to train and weigh in at 145 pounds. I’m 5’11” and weigh 185, and I am not even eff ay tee. I can’t imagine weighing 145, 150, or even 160. I would have to move to Venus or the moon to lose a bunch of weight. On Venus I would weigh 167 lbs and on the moon I would weigh 30 lbs. Don’t ask me how that works. Talk to an astronaut about that fact, but I am sure it involves gravity.

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So, I decided that I wanted to take some boxing classes. I found Champion Boxing & Fitness in Rockville, MD and I paid them a visit. Andy, the gym manager, walked me through the gym and explained how it all works. I took him up on his offer and showed up the next day for a free trial workout/boxing lesson.

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When I arrived at my first group boxing class (picture above) I was a bit nervous. (Now I know how my clients probably feel before their first workout with me). I saw everyone warming up, and I had no idea what I should be doing or what I was in for, then I heard a voice shout “GET YOUR JUMP ROPES AND WARM UP FOR 5 MINUTES!!” It was William Joppy giving those orders. Who is Joppy? He is just a 3 time middleweight boxing champ of the world. He fought Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad. Yes, he did lose both those fights, but just the mere fact that he fought both of those great fighters is insane and impressive. And trust me when I tell you that I am not easily impressed by athletes. Just for fun, think how many times you have interacted with someone who is, or once was, a world champ in anything. It is a rare occurrence, at least for me it is.

So, I was jumping rope honoring my five minute warm up, and about two minutes in I started thinking “This is a warm up? I’m already breathing hard!” That was my first bite of humble pie. I realized that I hadn’t jumped rope probably since elementary school, and that jumping rope is more taxing than it appears. And then I had a bigger realization. My cardio sucks! And I still had to complete the class.

During the class we did push-ups, sit ups, jump squats, sprints, running in place, AND boxing, of course. Joppy, as he likes to be called, makes one thing very clear. A boxer is only as good as his cardio. I had never thought about it that way.

By the end of the class I was gassed, but I loved it. I enjoyed discovering an activity that had kicked my ass and had swiftly reminded me that there is more to fitness than just weight training and being able to run outdoors, or even worse, on a treadmill. I don’t usually do the whole selfie thing for show, like never, but I had to take a picture with Joppy, to show my wife and friends that I was not kidding about him being my boxing instructor. This is William Joppy in his fighting days.

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This is him and Healthy Homeboy now.

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Oh but wait, the humble pie slices get tastier for me, much, much, tastier. After taking a few group boxing classes, I decided that I would talk to Joppy about hiring him for some one on one boxing lessons. We talked, an agreement was made, and my first lesson with him was last Friday. And if the first group boxing lesson I told you about was a kick in the ass, this past Friday’s one on one session was a kick in the ass, face, and gonads. Besides working out in the Marines, it is the most difficult exercise routine I have ever done because it taxes your cardio and muscles.

I will not get into all the specifics of what we did, but it wasn’t just boxing. It was plenty of abs, cardio, AND boxing. I love the boxing part. To be trained by a former world boxing champ is very motivating and exhilarating to me.

I learned plenty during our first session. I learned how to stand and hold my hands correctly so I won’t get my head knocked off. I learned combinations and footwork. I learned to punch and then move. At first I was punching and moving at the same time, compelling Joppy to say “If you’re moving while your punching you will lose power. Punch first, and then move. That’s why they say stick and move.” The most difficult aspect for me is punching and moving correctly. Sometimes I punch, and then I just stand still, like a punching bag, probably because I am so darn tired. That is no bueno. And no, Joppy is not punching back. He is just holding training mitts for me to hit. If he ever punched me, just once, in my abdominal region, I am certain I would poop a kidney out. Think about it, Joppy trained his whole life to punch as hard as he could, so I am sure he still packs a wallop.

Besides boxing being so tiring and technical, you want to know what else REALLY surprised me? I never had realized that you are so close to your opponent. How close are you to your opponent, and you to him/her? Go stand an extended arms reach away from a mirror. Now stare at yourself. Now picture a professional boxer in the mirror instead of you. Yes, you’re that close to your opponent. Damn! In other words, if you plan to land a punch, chances are punches will also be landed on you. Joppy below, in one of his battles, landing what looks to me like a left hook.

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At times, during our one on one session, Joppy would demonstrate either footwork or punch combinations for me to view and grasp. Holy guacamole Batman!! He is so damn fast. I couldn’t help but think two things. One, that he could hurt me really quick and very easily. That is a fact. And two, that pretty much wherever he goes in life, he will rarely, if ever, come across a man who could beat him in a boxing match, or street fight. That must be a pretty cool feeling.

This week I have my second session with him. I hope I show improvement. But if I do, he will probably make the session more challenging. That’s ok, because that is exactly what I do for my clients. Wish me luck.