Health Kick (& Punch)

As children, we’re taught to notice our genes. I always heard: “You have your mom’s smile.” But no one ever wants to hear comparisons to the other genes: “You have your mom’s cancer risk.”

Hypochondria is hard to avoid when you’ve had a sick parent. I’m not a hand-sanitizer freak. But I worry. A cold turns into a pity party. Routine doctor appointments can be real nail-biters. And if something out of the ordinary pops up… well, that’s when I fear my genes are cursed.

Let’s face it, though: pity parties are lame.

So I made a goal last year to get fit. I started taking yoga classes. I began jogging. I ran two 5Ks and walked a half marathon. And just last week, I took a new plunge: I joined a gym. That’s how I ended up spending Saturday morning at Kick & Punch – a class that should seriously consider changing its name to Kick & Punch & Sweat.

Saturday at 10AM, my best friend Laura and I stood in a large gymnasium with 20 other women, all waiting for Kick & Punch to begin. Suddenly, “S.O.S.” blasted over the loudspeaker. Our instructor, a buff woman with a bandanna, ordered us to do jumping jacks. She meant business. Soon we were kicking, punching, throwing jabs and hooks, and dancing. We even did “Karate Kid”-style crane kicks! Between huffs and puffs, Laura and I locked eyes and laughed. To make me crack up more, Laura sang along to Beyonce, Rihanna, and the rest of the pop pack. I’d shake my butt in response. Friends for 13 years can do anything together. An hour later, we were sweaty, proud, and totally empowered. (That’s me and Laura in the photo!)

I never thought I’d be into gym classes. My first experience was actually with my mom, and it did not go according to plan…

When I was in high school, yoga was first becoming popular. My mom and I signed up for a class. “C'mon, it’ll be fun,” she said. We ended up being the only beginners. Every other woman there bent as easily and gracefully as a contortionist. My mom, always the eager student, craned her neck to see each pose. But by the time she saw it, a new move began. I sat on my mat and watched, too embarrassed to try. The worst part was the complete silence. Finally, my mom couldn’t take it anymore. She snuck a look at me, caught my confused look, and a snort of suppressed laughter escaped her. This sent me into a fit of giggles. “Shhh!” the instructor reprimanded, glaring at us. This only provoked us. Suddenly, the two goody two shoes became class clowns. Choked giggles blurted out from us throughout the class. Finally, the lesson ended. We grabbed our things and ran to the car. Once inside, we burst out laughing – and swore to never return! (Can you believe I now do yoga once a week?)

Tonight I tried another new gym class: Country Rope. That’s right: jump roping to country music. At one point, we even swung our jump ropes like lassos. I don’t think I’ll return. Even hypochondriacs like me draw the line at a health hoedown.

What do you do to take control of your health? Tell me in the comments section below.
Mark Ramelkick, gym class, punch, health, gym, yoga