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Boxing looks tough in pictures. IT IS WAY TOUGHER IN REAL LIFE.

Four years ago, I used to do fun runs. I was 100 pounds then and on my way to having lady abs. Then promo buffets and other things happened, and before I knew it, my stamina has dwindled to a trickle and now I couldn’t take the stairs to the second floor without feeling like I just ran a 10K. Clearly, I needed to do something. So I signed up for a 6-session boxing package at Gerry Penalosa Boxing Gym at Marcos Highway and took my first session yesterday.

Okay. I have about 4 or 5 friends who do boxing, but nobody warned me how INTENSE it was. Well, one did, but I didn’t really believe her.

I don’t know how it is in other boxing gyms, but I was not given any pep talk. No walk-through and other pre-boxing chit-chat. After being introduced to the trainer, he asked me, “do you need to change outfit?” I said no. He then activated a timer and said, “let’s do jumping jacks for 3 minutes.” I was like, er, now?

“On my way to get my ass boxed,” said my Facebook status. Little did I know how true it was going to be.

As I was doing jumping jacks, I told him that I haven’t had any workout in 4 years, so if we could please take it easy today? He said, “okay, but I’m here to push you because you have to be strong. You have to do cardio.” Thirty seconds later, I’m begging for rest and water.

Another 3-minute warm up, knee highs this time. I was stopping to catch my breath every 10 seconds. After the knee highs, he helped me put on my hand wraps and boxing gloves. Finally, boxing time! “Hit stronger! Move your body! Eyes on the mitts! Faster on combos!” Man, this was not fun at all. I only want to be fit, not to be the next Manny Pacquiao.

But there’s no stopping my trainer, whose job is to push me to finish the routine. After the mitts, he let me rest for a bit, and then we moved on to the 5-kilogram medicine ball. “20 squat and lift, 5 sets.” 5 sets? 100 of this?? ARE YOU SERIOUS??

Gerry Penalosa Boxing Gym has a well-lit interior covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

My friends, BOXING IS TOUGH. When I was a kid, I thought a punching bag was the best toy in the world. When I started watching Hajime No Ippo (はじめの一歩), I thought boxing was a fun sport to try. But no — it was grueling. By the end of the session, I had done 70 medicine ball squat and lift (I stopped because the back of my head started to feel numb); two rounds in the punching bag; another round in the mitts; 100 sit ups; 100 leg raises; and 50 push ups. I thought I was close to vomiting a few times and the soles of my feet hurt like crazy. It’s like my trainer promptly forgot what I said about being a total workout newbie.

What saw me through the entire ordeal was a lot of self-talk. My mind relentlessly alternated from “you can do it!” to “you’re tired, just stop.” I always had to choose which voice to listen to. And then it was finally over, and the trainer gave me a quick back massage and arm stretches. It was such a relief. Then I realized one thing: the body was capable. It was my mind that wasn’t. I understood why the trainer had to push me — because he knows that I could do it. I weigh 156 pounds and I survived.

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I’m feeling sore all over as I type this, I swear my joints are waving the middle finger at me. The Salonpas spray and Advil were not helpful. I remembered thinking after the knee highs: I should just stick to Machi Koro as my “sport” because I cannot subject myself to a very demanding fitness regime.

So will I return to the gym and get my ass boxed again? Absolutely.


This is 10% luck, 20% skill,
15% concentrated power of will
5% pleasure, 50% pain
And 100% reason to remember the name!
— Remember The Name, Fort Minor

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