Boxing, books, bowl food and balance: what more can I ask for?
I’ve been reluctant to write about my new hobby — boxing. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because for a while I’ve felt unsure of my place in a world where I feel entirely uncomfortable.
My body doesn’t always do what I want it to do. My brain (or trainer) will say ‘go left’, and I’ll understand the instruction but my body will go right anyway. I look really ugly when I exercise. My face is red and crumpled up in concentration; I have fluids coming out of every possible pore; and my ability to speak flies out the window. Try to chat to me while I’m punching a bag, I’ll probably nod at you with wild eyes and go, “Uh. Uh. Huh?”
“Keep breathing. That’s the key. Breathe.
But I love it. I’ve finally found a sport that I enjoy so completely, with every fibre of my body. I go every day (except Saturdays when the gym’s closed) and when I’m not boxing, I think about boxing. My knuckles, muscles, knees and toes — they’re all starting to toughen up as I grow stronger and stronger.
Why now? Why here?
Everyone in my life is amazed by how suddenly and completely I’ve been swept up by boxing. It’s not like I never tried exercising before. I mean, I played hockey in high school, albeit with great reluctance, and netball in primary school, which I hated.
It started when I moved into a new neighbourhood in Joburg called Sandringham. I’ve felt for a long time that I wanted to do more exercise, but I didn’t know what. One day, I walked to the Spar in the Greenleaf Centre on George Avenue, and there it was — Boxfit.
At first, I just walked past and thought, should I? Nah, maybe. Could I? Possibly.
I sent the owner a tentative email. She responded right away, and complimented me on my email signature (a nerdy, super pretentious quote from Chaucer):
“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.” ― Geoffrey Chaucer, The Parliament of Birds
I felt an immediate bond to the place, and the next week I turned up. And I’ve been turning up ever since.
Why I love Boxfit
Boxfit is a safe place. I feel awkward and uncomfortable (a normal feeling for me) but I’m okay with feeling my feelings in that space, because I know I’m safe. Does that make sense? It doesn’t matter if I feel ugly or clumsy or stupid or boring (or any of the million things I tell myself about myself) because no one there thinks that of me. We all just let each other be.
The trainers are phenomenal. Each one has a unique teaching style but across the board, you feel like they really care about you. I don’t feel pressure to ‘be good’ or to ‘perform’ or reach milestones; I can go at my own pace and learn in my own way. My body is mine to shape and form — and transform.
It’s about strength
And it’s not about being pretty, or sexy or cool. The single strand that binds it all together is strength. My one trainer is a boss when it comes to strength and conditioning. She’s teaching all of us to be bad-ass and strong, inside and out.
Balance, and mental health
I’ve been using the lessons I learn at Boxfit in my mental life as well. For a long time, I’ve been struggling with feeling like I don’t have the right to exist. That I don’t belong anywhere. Words and my mistakes knock me off balance easily.
But my trainer told me one day to bend my knees when I go into the boxing stance, and explained that I need a solid base to punch from. That freaking blew my mind, because you can take that as a metaphor for life. So now, I’m building a solid inner base for myself from where I draw strength. I’m collecting all the things that are good about me and day-by-day filling the space that makes me feel worthless and alone.
You know when people give you compliments, how you deflect it with self-deprecating jokes, because you can’t see yourself as they do? Well now, I take those compliments and moments of positivity, I store them; I make them part of my inner world. I’m building a solid base inside me to punch from, and I feel better and better every day.
Books and bowl food
Part of those moments of light I’m collecting, come from the joy I get when I read, or cook. This whole blog has been a love letter to books, with occasional dips into food and travel. When you look at it from the outside, you’ll see that in the end, it’s all about wellness and self-love.
And I’m much happier for it.
I recently received Whole: bowl food for balance by Melissa Delport and I can’t wait to start making all the super healthy recipes. Check it out!
- Boxfit is hosting a White Collar event on Thursday, 21 June, as well as an epic Winter Challenge that starts on 18 June. Come along and get strong!