Body Combat

I sneaked in a five mile run this morning before joining my friend Charlene at her gym to try out her favorite class— Body Combat.  The streets proved to be just wet, and because I was not sure of my timing, having to drive my daughter to school and still meet Charlene at 8:45, I opted for a figure-eight loop to stay close to home.  The cold morning air felt good on my face and helped me let go of some of my anxiety about participating in a class where almost everyone else knew the basic routine.  I am not particularly graceful and suffer inhibitions about my synchronized-move capabilities.  Charlene is quite fit, and has been attending this class for a couple of years.  It’s her fitness equivalent to my running addiction.  I knew she would take care of me— she’s the kind of friend who would not leave me in the dust.  I still needed the run.

I ran downtown, zipping up Main Street focusing on my breath and letting go of my nervousness.  I ran the length of Beach Street, turned around, retraced my steps, and chugged up the hill by my house.  I welcomed the scenery of my old route as I looked out onto the ocean by Old Garden Beach. The ocean was white-capped, a rich sapphire blue raising the foaming tips of the waves.  I ran back home along Marmion Way, noticing how much damage the tides had done to the street by Straitsmouth Cove.  I forgot all about the class.

After I drove my daughter to school, I hopped in the shower for a quick freshening, dressed in indoor workout clothes, pulled sweatpants over my capri pants and a warm fleece top over my tank.  I paced around the house for a little while, dwelling on what was to come.  I made myself get into my car, drove to the club, and parked.

“Hey!”

Charlene scampered across the snowy parking lot and met me on the front steps.

“Hey back!”

“Here’s your guest pass.  I’ll take you down to the locker room.”

The gym was big and cold.  We passed the pool on the way down the ramp to the locker room, and I glimpsed a water aerobics class in progress.  I shivered.

We locked up our keys and clothes and headed to the classroom, which turned out to be a basketball court.  The room was almost empty, but by the time I had helped Charlene move the instructor’s platform into position, a handful of people had wandered in.  I worried about losing my place in the very back of the class.  I did not want to be anywhere near the front.  I wanted to be able to follow the other participants through the class, and to see the instructor without being seen too well myself.  Charlene did take care of me, too, showing me the basic front punch, upper cut, cross punch, roundhouse kick, back kick, and front kick.  I had a hard time keeping my balance as I tried to take it all in and perform each move at least adequately before the class began.  It seemed hard.  I wondered if my run was a mistake.

Body Combat is like kick-boxing.  Loud, techno-influenced music flooded the room as the instructor began the class.  I stopped thinking completely as I struggled to follow along.  She demonstrated every piece of each segment a few times at an easy pace, moved on to the next, then sped it up, incorporating multiple moves into one long segment.  She had fantastic energy and I soon saw held no judgment about my ability to follow along.  She used an amplified headset to communicate with the class, and took time to make sure we all were on track with the choreographed punches, kicks, jumps, and postures.

I could feel the smile on my face as I struggled to learn the new moves.  I stopped being embarrassed about ten minutes into the class and began to have fun.  I laughed at myself as I watched the other people in the class, mostly women, move in unison while I repeatedly thrust out the opposite fist or the wrong leg, while I jumped forward as they jumped back.  I did pretty well for me, though, duplicating most of the moves on time and fairly rhythmically.  By the time we reached the peak of the cardio segment, I was jumping and running in place with the same freedom that comes for me in a good run outside.  I was sweating, a good sign.

Suddenly Charlene ran over to me, then past me.

“Lap time!”

I chased after her, expecting to run around and around the room, but she veered off right after the first lap.

“Grab a mat!  Floor work!”

I followed her to a corner in the hall, took two of the thin mats, not knowing what to expect.  Floor work!  I could do that no problem.  We splayed out on our backs and did a few oblique crunches, turned over and did plank with alternate leg raises for about a minute, then executed maybe 10 push ups.  I was excited, ready for more.  I looked over to my friend to see what was next.  She grinned at me, sweat running down her pretty face, her flat little belly.

“Cool down!”

I was stunned.  That’s it?  I looked at my watch.  A full hour had gone by. I was ready for another hour.  Pulsing with energy, I forced myself to a seated spinal rotation stretch with the rest of the class, wondering if the instructor would start another session right away, wondering if Charlene would stay with me for another round.

I did the cool down, a combination of yogic stretches with which I was familiar, mixed with graceful martial arts poses. The music ended.  The instructor hopped off the platform and everyone pushed toward the exit.  It was definitely over.  Charlene and I parted in the locker room.  She had errands to do after a quick shower, so I headed home to my own shower, yearning for more Body Combat.

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One Comment on “Body Combat”

  1. Charlene Says:

    Thanks for coming today that was fun! Thanks for the compliments too 😉


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