Staying in shape is somewhat important to me. Being a millionaire is also somewhat important to me, but I’ve kept up with that just as well as I’ve kept up with keeping in shape. Lack of commitment notwithstanding, my wife and I decided to join a gym. We wanted to find an activity that we could do together. Unfortunately, competitive team Netflixing couldn’t provide the aerobic benefits we were after. Also, it doesn’t exist (yet.)
We figured joining a gym would give us a chance to do something athletic outside of the house, other than chasing a runaway shopping cart in the Safeway parking lot. After discussing, we decided we should join a gym that offered some sort of martial arts classes, since that was something we had both always wanted to try. Furthermore, I had always wanted to scream “hiiiiiiiiya!” around other adults, without scorn (for once.)
I’ve never been a confrontational person, so my wife thought taking up martial arts might offer a good boost for my assertiveness skills. She, on the other hand, is always looking for a fight. I figured the martial arts would be a good way to hone her fighting skills. I hoped this would allow her to maim her next victim with a precise strike to the eyeball/gut/groin rather than flailing like the Tasmanian devil until she hears the crunching of bones. We figured we could both get in shape while doing a little personal development. Why not kill two birds (and maybe ourselves) with one stone?
My wife did the research, and decided that the best option for our needs was our local UFC gym. For those of you who may not be familiar with the UFC gym brand (both of you), I’ll give you a little background. UFC stands for Underwear Filling Cracks. No. That’s not it. It’s Ultimate Fighting Championship. It’s the sport where guys and gals of various sizes, fighting styles, and criminal persuasions, crawl into an octagon and attempt to murder one another on TV. “Why an octagon?” you ask; because hexagons are for pussies! But I digress.
UFC decided a few years ago that although televised murder was lucrative, franchising murder into your local community could be worth even more. The UFC gym is like most large chain gyms. It has free weights, weight machines, treadmills and other aerobic machines, as well as fitness classes. Where UFC differs from other gyms is in the additional classes that they offer. Many of them are focused on mixed martial arts and boxing techniques and conditioning. They incorporate training and sparring similar to what real fighters would use. Sounds fun, right? That’s what I thought, too.
They offered us a free week to get started (that’s how they get you!), so we couldn’t say no. We literally couldn’t say no, because the guy who signed us up, Fau, was a jovial Samoan fellow the size of a small iceberg. We were terrified. We got signed up, Fau gave us the tour, and we headed over to the heavy bags for our first class, Boxing Conditioning.
We were surrounded by fellow gym-goers of various ages, sizes, and athletic abilities. It made us feel a little more comfortable to know that these weren’t all perfect fighting machines like we thought they may be. We started class by warming up with stretches and jogging. I had just eaten two Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups, so I was forced to add some butt-clenches into my warmup routine to avoid a KO of my classmates via poison gas.
Once the warmup was done, we put our gloves on and moved to the bags. Our instructor gave us some basic boxing combos to start with and helped us with our stance. We had a ball. “This is so fun!” I told her, as I gave my heavy bag a few quick jabs to the chin. “I know!” she responded as she proceeded to give her bag a full-force uppercut to the balls. It was an omen of things to come.
The following week, we were feeling pretty confident about our fighting skills. I was reading the class schedule aloud to her when I said “Muay Thai Level 1.” “Ooh!” she said. “Let’s do that!” I paused for a moment. “Are you crazy? That’s hardcore!” is what I should have said. Due to the afore-mentioned lack of assertiveness, I said “Sounds awesome!” What a complete tool bag.
We showed up to our first Muay Thai class, and instantly noticed a difference in the physiques between our other class and this one. In the first class, we were pretty average. In this class, we were not on the same level as most of the others. We looked more like their inexpensive b-movie body-doubles than their equals. I looked at my wife as if to say “Why did I let you talk me into this?” She looked back at me as if to say “Good question dumbass. Why did you? And why did you forget to take out the trash AGAIN when I reminded you twice already today. Good thing I have an excuse to punch you in the face right now. No jury in the world would convict me!” As you can tell, it was a very long stare.
We did the same warmup that we had done in the Boxing Conditioning class; jogging, stretching, and butt clenches to avoid stinky-squeakers. Then the instructor told us to face a partner. I turned toward my wife slowly, with terror in my eyes. She turned toward me slowly with crazy in her eyes. This was her chance. The instructor demonstrated a punch, kick, elbow combination that we were to try on each other, using large pads to block the blows. It was pretty complicated, but he was patient and showed it to us as many times as we needed.
He finished the instruction and it was my wife’s turn to try. She did the first punch combo without incident. Then she skipped to the elbow move, because she does whatever the hell she wants. I was able to adjust quickly and block the attack. Finally, she went for the kick. She was supposed to kick gently, allowing me to block gently with my own leg, since neither of us had shin-guards. What actually happened was that I lifted my leg to block hers. Her tiny shin then proceeded to slam into my much larger shin at full force. It sounded like a couple of 2×4’s smashing together, with the added humiliation of me yelling “eek!” as soon as it happened.
Somehow, she felt no pain, and I felt like I had just been kicked in the shin by a psycho…BECAUSE I HAD! “Yikes” she giggled. “Are you OK?” People were watching, so I said “Yeah. I’m fine.” while I wiped away the tears. I tried not to concentrate on the pain, so I could keep up with the class. Next it was my turn to do the combo. I did my best to stay in character (big strong man.) I was doing OK, until I looked down at my leg.
In the center of my right shin was a giant, bulging, purple, hard-boiled egg. It didn’t look good at all. I thought that only happened to cartoon characters after an anvil accident. But I didn’t see a single anvil at the UFC gym; just a giggling five foot one girl, with titanium shins. She didn’t even have a bruise! There was no way I could hide this from the instructor. I was sure he’d see it, and force me to fill out an incident report, maybe call an ambulance, and introduce me to the gym attorney.
He walked by us and noticed that we had stopped sparring. “He’s just taking a break” my wife said as she looked down at my mortal wound. The instructor looked at my leg, looked up at me confused, and said “who did that?” I lowered my head in shame, and pointed at my wife. “She did.” “Ha ha! Good job!” he told her as he winked and elbowed her in the side. “Don’t worry man. I get those all the time. Just use the other leg.” I was humiliated. Then I realized that this was my first Muay Thai injury. I was a real fighter! I was a UFC champion! At least that’s what my wife told me when we stopped for a peanut butter cup milkshake on the way home.
The best thing about joining this gym has been the excitement of a totally new experience. I’ve never done any type of combat sport in my life. It’s way out of my comfort zone, and something that I probably would not have had the courage to do without that little Tasmanian devil by my side. Now that I’ve done it though, it has opened my mind to trying all kinds of new things, athletic and otherwise.
My leg healed after a week or so. My ego took longer. We still go to the UFC gym, and love it. We’ve both noticed our bodies are getting into better shape, and we have more energy. Although we definitely plan to invest in some shin guards for any future forays into the world of muay thai. Now if we can just start working on that millionaire thing, life will be complete.
To read how I humiliated myself in another sports adventure, read That Time I Tried Being A Pro Mascot.