Yup, I’m the Chair of all the Visual and Performing Arts at California State University San Marcos, and I go to a boxing gym three to four times a week.
I say this as if it was a confession, and when I do say this out loud, I get the most curious looks. I would be last person on earth you would imagine as a boxer.
First off, I’m pretty tiny – almost 5’1” (!).
And, I’m over 50, not the profile one imagines for a boxer: Ms. teeny tiny almost-senior-citizen, artsy administrator wearing wraps, gloves, and beating the heck out of an innocent bag. But, I love it – both the surprise of identifying as one who boxes, and the actual act of boxing.
Alright, this is how it happened.
L.A. Boxing gym is right between an organic food store and the dog groomer. I pass it all the time between buying food and getting Daisy, the dog groomed.
For at least a year, each time I passed by the gym I felt a curious envy for those in the gym hitting and kicking (there’s kickboxing too!). When I admitted to a friend that I had a fantasy with regard to the gym, she drove me straight there and brought me inside. I asked a few questions, was told one burns an average of 800 calories in a workout, and before I knew it – I was signed up to try a class.
First class, the instructor wrapped my hands, lent me gloves, and led me toward my bag. After the warm-up, we began the punching sequences: Jab jab cross. Jab jab cross hook hook. Jab cross hook cross…and so on.
It was music and rhythm to my ears. I couldn’t believe it. And my feet – choreography.
In a million years, I never expected a musical connection to boxing – and yet – it is all about music and rhythm – and choreography.
Even better, speed bags: it is all about triplets – I learned how to work the speed bag – and guess what?! You could do an Irish jig to the rhythm!
More than music, rhythm, and choreography, however, boxing is about discipline, practice, focus, and pushing oneself beyond limits.
Boxing has given me enormous insight into understanding the depth with which I can push myself – even more so than art-making.
Since it is so physical I actually feel myself as I push myself. The feeling in my body as I sweat and struggle with the 15th push-up or as I jump down into a burpee (don’t even ask!), reminds me of the potential I have to go beyond my own limits.
My boxing has also renewed my focus with regard to practicing my particular art form, which is music.
Now when I practice my saxophone, I want to be able to reach the point of burning those 800 calories.
The relationship between boxing and the arts is one that I am just beginning to write about – and in fact this blog is my first attempt at reflecting and writing about the connections – and I suspect there will be more to come.