Much like Batman in his quest to overthrow absurdly named villains, I have been been actively punching and kicking for the past 19(!) years.
I was first introduced to shadowboxing classes back in 1999, when I accompanied my sister and brother-in-law to the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Pool and Leisure Centre in Mangere. They raved on about this class where you could channel your inner Jean-Claude Van Damme. As a spritely 18 year old, this was a most welcome challenge.
I instantly fell in love with the class. Not only did I love its high impact nature, I also enjoyed the choreography and loud dance music that went along with it. It kind of reminded me of a nightclub, but without the drinks, pretension, and stylish clothing. The instructor, Tony, was an absolute legend. He punched like Mohammed Ali and kicked like Bruce Lee, spurring us on to copy his technique. The song ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ never sounded so good.
From that point onwards I had discovered an enduring form of exercise that remains with me today. I went on to do similar classes (kickboxing, Bodycombat, KickFit, Tae Bo, Mixed Martial Arts to name a few) at various gyms around Auckland. I am not a gym person as such, in fact I loathe doing circuit training and weights. However, the classes always had me coming back for more.
So what was the appeal? Firstly, I could punch, uppercut and kick as hard as I could, without hurting anyone. The art of shadowboxing is non-contact, perfect for a person like me who is gentle and non-violent at the core.
Shadowboxing puts me in the zone, you know, the state where everything is in focus and the feelings you experience are heightened. The music swells to such a point where I want to strike harder than before. The instructor shouts out words of encouragement. I look out to those around me and use their efforts to push myself further, even though my body is aching.
The classes not only motivate me, they also help me to de-stress and to ‘shake’ out any tension I’m experiencing. I do confess to imagining that I’m punching ‘things’ (and sometimes people!) that are irritating or bugging me.
The class isn’t for the faint-hearted. In addition to punching and kicking, there are Muay Thai, Karate and Capoeira moves, burpees, lunges, sprints, jumps… the list goes on.
I have taken part in many hobbies and activities over the years, but this must rank as the most enduring in my life. I feel grateful to do this on a regular basis and it made me reflect on how useful it is to have consistent activities that you can rely upon for a positive boost.
Wow, 19 years and still going strong with shadowboxing. I hope I’m still doing these classes for many more years to come.
Now to quote the wonderful Miss Piggy… “HI-YAH!!!!”
I am currently a member of the Glenfield Pool and Leisure Centre and totally recommend the Bodycombat class (modelled on the Les Mills class of the same name).