Nearly two years ago, Zak woke up on a Saturday morning and told me he wanted to get back into boxing.

“You want to ‘go back’ to boxing?” I asked.

“Yeah, I did it a long time ago; it’s really fun. You should try it. You need more muscles.”

So we went to our neighborhood gym, which just so happen to teach MMA and asked about Muay Thai, boxing, and ju jitsu. They gave us some pamphlets, and we promised to return for a class the following weekend. Zak did most of the talking, and I did most of the smiling and nodding politely while feeling completely out of my element inside a gym with WEIGHTS! AND A BOXING RING! AND SHIRTLESS MEN! AND WOMEN IN SPORTS BRAS!

The gym meant serious business.

I did not.

Zak apparently meant semi-serious business.

We returned the next day. Zak in clothes taken out of an overstuffed bottom dresser drawer meant exclusively for gym time. Since I have never in my life owned clothes meant exclusively for working out, I was in a shiny new outfit that supposedly are “breathable” and “performance enhancing.”  Sure.

One of the coaches took pity on my lost soul as I tried to shrink into one of the walls before class. She gently wrapped my hands in bandages (creatively these bandages are actually called “wraps”) then strapped me into a pair of loaner gloves before proceeding to shout instruction, encouragement, and threats to myself and 12 or so other people for the next hour.

Our Coach proceeded to help us kill ourselves through a series of exercises that my fuzzy memory seems to recall mostly involved running. Like, a lot of running. More running than I had done in nearly 10 years. Enough running that knees, hips, and ankles were hurt in ways I didn’t know they could hurt.

I hated it. Everything hurt. I thought I might pass out, then I thought I might throw up, then I just couldn’t move anymore. And then…my brain lit up! And I was suddenly really, really pleased with the world.

I am never pleased.

It was a startling revelation in my previously never fit life. So now every Sunday, I show up to the gym with my glorified pajamas, my wraps I can wrap myself, and shiny gloves to try and follow through on increasingly terrifying demands from coaches who seem superhuman.

I still hate the running. A lot of the time, I do not feel like going. But once I get there, and my heart starts pounding in my ears, my body calms down and my brain lights up. And for about 15 minutes, I feel like I can live in this world another day.

It’s hard and it’s hard work. But it makes me feel strong, calm, and confident.

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