The Sound of One Glove Boxing

Tonight was a first. I went to the boxing gym for the usual 5:30 fitness class and I turned out to be the only student. I kidded around with Cappy and Mike (who was on his way out) that if nobody else showed up, I was leaving, because I was afraid Cappy would kick my a**. Which he obligingly confirmed that he would.
Years ago I would have been so self-conscious that I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the situation, which amounted to a free personal training session. Instead I would have desperately wanted to leave. I can remember several times when I tried taking private guitar lessons and could not stand to play (let alone sing) by myself in front of someone who was watching, evaluating, and “helping.” Something—a combination of years and varied experiences, I guess—has taught me to concentrate, set aside self-consciousness, and be in the moment when it would be easier to be distracted or worse. At least at Cappy’s Gym, anyway. I don’t know if I would be any less self-conscious if somebody asked me to play them a song on the guitar. I should try out that idea.
It says a lot about the atmosphere at Cappy’s that I would feel as comfortable there as I do. He has a gift for giving individual attention without making you feel too scrutinized. During one round of jumprope I thought about the fact that people would soon start arriving for the 6:30 class, and my inclination was to dread that , thinking I couldn’t handle other people seeing me exercising by myself—maybe it was okay to work out alone with Cappy, but not with other gym members watching. I’m happy to say I quickly abandoned that mindset and concentrated on what I was doing.
Sure enough, at about 6:15 two or three people came in. I couldn’t hear them talking over the music and the punching bag until Trisha called out in my direction, “It’s Fran’s own special class!” I instantaneously ran through my mental habit (from grade school) of realizing that I was being mocked, and ran right on through it to today’s reality that I was not being mocked. I flung my gloves in the air in a joking triumphal gesture at Trisha and then went back into my own little world of punching the bag.
I’m glad to have lost a lot of my unwarranted self-consciousness over the past few years. I think it’s connected to being married to someone who never judges me and also to having left Chicago, where all those grade-school adventures happened.
The workout went well, but I didn’t get as exhausted as I normally do because we spent a bit more time talking and adjusting my movements. I did stumble onto a useful way of visualizing how to use the legs and the back, instead of the arms and shoulders, to throw punches. As the fist is shot forward, brace the muscles all down the back of the body by imagining you’re braced against a wall behind you. This visualization was a useful addition to my growing awareness of keeping my shoulders back while punching at full extension. I don’t claim to have all of this down pat, but it is fun to try to create a mental picture that I can describe.