For Love of the Game — Part II
(For Part I, click here)
Step into my parlour now so I could regale you with the tale of my foray into Muay Thai.
It all started when I woke up one morning and finally resolved that I should do something about my sagging and fat-padded form before I reach thirty (which, for everobody’s information, will still be a slightly long time in coming).
That day, in the factory, I was on one of my bathroom breaks, and standing next to me by the sink was one of my fellow elves, Oliveski. Now, I’ve known that Oliveski was into Muay Thai for several months already — and her dedication paid off in dividends of toned arms and firmer abs, plus going dress sizes smaller. I remembered my early-morning resolution and so, I unabashedly riddled Oliveski with questions about the martial arts.
Oliveski was kind enough to supply me with answers, suggested gyms that offered Muay Thai tutorials, and gave me tips. Emboldened and sparked with a novel feeling of determination, that same afternoon, I went to one of the gyms that Oliveski suggested.
The gym was located in the heart of Dumaguete. It wasn’t hard to miss because of the load of testosterone wafting from the gym floor out to the streets.
When I arrived, men clothed only in boxer shorts (for what else should boxers wear?), with varying degrees of musculature rippling on their backs, arms, necks, and legs, were busy doing drills in the middle of the gym. One second into seeing those busy athletes, I was already intimidated and nearly decided to drive off again without inquiring about gym membership if not for one of the guys who just finished his warm-ups and came up to where I was oggling them and asked me what I wanted.
He introduced himself as one of the instructors, but since I have the attention span of a gnat, I didn’t catch his name. I asked about membership, schedules, what equipment would be necessary, and all the usual, i’m-clueless-but-interested-in-enrolling questions. He answered all my queries politely, told me that they teach Muay Thai three times a week, and even invited me in to have a cup of coffee and talk about my long day at work while he massaged my feet observe the other guys sparring, sweating, and yelling war cries inside the gym as they landed blows on the equally sweaty bodies of their opponents. I declined because, admittedly, I felt so out of place with my office slacks, 3-inch-heeled velvet boots, cardigan, and pink blouse.
Still, I promised to return two days later, which was when they offered Muay Thai again.
Two days later, I did not go back to that gym that wasn’t hard to miss because of the load of testosterone wafting from the gym floor out to the streets.
It was all because of Daphne — who is another Muay Thai enthusiast, who, having heard that I was planning to do Muay Thai, suggested that I go with her to another gym. I agreed and also dragged Mariecris, another elf, along to try Muay Thai.
The first time I did Muay Thai, I died.
Or so I thought. That’s how it felt for someone whose carcass sits immobile on a swivel chair all the live long day and who does nothing else upon going home.
First, the warm-ups, in which the lady trainor just oriented us with the basics without really letting us perform the moves, was a breeze for both Mariecris and me.
I was beginning to think: “Hey, this is nice! Bring it!”
And then the introduction of the Muay Thai moves came. Punches, correct positioning of my flat feet, footwork, kicks… I was made to take it all. The trainors there must have thought that the more I knew of everything in one go, the better off I’ll be. It was when I started dying.
Then, before drillwork, I had to put on my hand wraps. No easy feat, and in the end, I had someone help me wrap the 15-meter strips of cloth around both my hands (kidding, they were just actually 4 meters long).
Mariecris was well into her drillwork already, and watching her from the sidelines, I was still thinking: “This is nice… bring it on!” Even Daphne, as an advanced trainee, looked like she was having a good time while she punched/kicked the hell out of the training pads.
Then someone had me put on gloves. It was my turn on the mat. The trainor told me to remember the basics I’ve learned.
And then everything became a blur.
Things were happening so fast.
“Jab,” the trainor would yell. And I’d jab.
“Straight.” Straight punch from me.
“Hook.” And a hook punch from me.
“Upper cut.” I’d give the pad an upper cut.
“Jab. Straight.” I’d give it.
“Jab. Straight. Jab.” I’d give it again.
“Jab. Straight. Jab. Upper cut. Hook. Helicopter kick. Tiger upper cut. Straight. Hook.” Sweet Jesus W. Christ! I gave it all!!!
And the trainor said that it was all for that time.
My heart was trying to escape my ribcage. My nostrils were flaring like the exhaust pipes of a sugar factory. My sweat made puddles on the mat. I just wanted to die. Or maybe I was already dead and that was how it felt like.
I felt sorry for my feet, forced to carry such a bag of lard as myself. They ached like feet should ache carrying around my deadweight. I blamed genetics for my flat feet.
The trainor called us again to the mat. It was cooldown time, but everything was already hazy. We paid up, freshened up, and said goodbye to those kind people still alive and kicking on the mat.
I was still catching my breath when Daphne, Mariecris, and I drove out through the evening air, looking for a place where we could eat. We ended up eating so much, and Mariecris, observing the piled-up plates in front of us after dinner, commented that revenge is sweet. We made up for the calories we’ve lost at the gym.
And so, of course, the next day found me struggling to get up. Every part of me was sore. It felt as if embers have replaced my flesh. Each step I took to the bathroom was an agony.
Dying. Dying. Dead.
Each tissue in my body was screaming in pain. But the next time, I still went back to die once more. That time, I was alone. And I went to that gym that wasn’t hard to miss because of the load of testosterone wafting from the gym floor out to the streets.
Because the gym members are mostly guys, there were no gentle or pa-cute moments like there were in that first gym I went to. I was ravaged the first moment I stepped on the mat for warm-ups. The instructor made me jump rope for five minutes. I wondered about injustice… in the entire twenty-something years of my existence, my jump rope experience had only been one in the fourth grade, and I only did three skips.
Then there were bends and twists and stretches that lasted near-eternity. I was already sweating buckets a few minutes into the warm ups.
Dying. Dying. Dead.
But I was resurrected during drillwork. Unlike in the first gym, this time, the instructor was patient enough to teach me correct body positioning, footwork, and had me work with the basic of punches. The five-minute padwork was up and I was already passed on the conveyor belt for cooldown.
I still ached all over the morning after.
I’m going back on Monday. I just need my own gloves. The ones in the gym are squishy.
Studies do show that endorphins in the system could be addicting.