A couch potato’s first boxing session experience.

Four years ago, I used to do fun runs. I was 100 pounds then and on my way to having lady abs. But promo buffets and other things happened, and before I knew it, my stamina has dwindled to a trickle and I couldn’t take the stairs to the second floor without feeling like I just ran a 10K. Clearly, I needed to do something. So I signed up for a 6-session boxing package at Gerry Penalosa Boxing Gym and took my first session yesterday.

Okay. I have about 4 or 5 friends who do boxing, but nobody warned me how INTENSE it was.

I don’t know how it is in other boxing gyms, but I was not given any pep talk. No walk-throughs and other pre-boxing chit-chat. After being introduced to the trainer, the only thing he asked was, “do you need to change outfit?” I said no. He then activated a timer and said, “all right. Let’s do jumping jacks for 3 minutes.” I was like, er, now na?

“On my way to get my ass boxed,” said my Facebook status. Little did I know how true it was going to be.

As I was doing jumping jacks, I told him that I haven’t had any workout in 4 years, so if we could please take it easy today? He nodded, but I guess he didn’t really take it seriously. Thirty seconds later, I was begging for rest and water.

Another 3-minute warm up, knee highs this time. I was stopping to catch my breath every 10 seconds. After the knee highs, he helped me put on my hand wraps and boxing gloves. Finally, boxing time!

Hit stronger! Move your body! Eyes on the mitts! Faster on combos!” Didn’t I tell this guy that I do not have any prior workout experience? Why is he ordering me to punch harder and faster? Man, this was not fun at all. I only want to be fit, not to be the next Manny Pacquiao.

But there was no stopping my trainer, whose job is to push me to finish the routine. After the mitts, he let me rest for a bit, and then we moved on to the 5-kilogram medicine ball. “Twenty squat-and-lift, five sets.” Five sets? A hundred of this? ARE YOU EFFIN’ SERIOUS?!

Gerry Penalosa Boxing Gym has a well-lit interior covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

My friends, BOXING IS TOUGH. When I started watching Hajime No Ippo (はじめの一歩), I thought boxing would be fun to try. But no — it was grueling. By the end of the session, I had done 70 medicine ball squat-and-lift (I stopped because the back of my head started to feel numb); two rounds in the punching bag; another round in the mitts; 100 sit ups; 100 leg raises; and 50 push ups. I thought I was close to vomiting a few times and the soles of my feet hurt like crazy. Maybe my trainer indeed forgot what I said about being a total workout newbie.

What saw me through the entire ordeal was a lot of self-talk. My mind relentlessly alternated from “you can do it!” to “you’re tired, just stop.” I always had to choose which voice to listen to. And then it was finally over, and the trainer gave me a quick back massage and arm stretches. It was such a relief. Then I realized one thing: the body was capable. It was my mind that wasn’t. I understood why the trainer had to push me — because he knows I could do it. I weigh 156 pounds and I survived.


I’m feeling sore all over as I type this, I swear my joints are waving the middle finger at me. The Salonpas spray and Advil were not helpful. I remembered thinking after the knee highs: I should just stick to chess as my “sport” because I cannot subject myself to a very demanding fitness regime.

So will I return to the gym and get my ass boxed again? Absolutely.

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  1. I definitely think he pushed you too much, considering it’s your first time to box.

    Before I went with my bf, I kept asking him how it was, if it was difficult. He said it was. Pero when I got there na, I thought we were just warming up but yun na pala yung cardio. So I guess all this lifting paid off because I wasn’t really that tired during the cardio (before the mitts). Anyway, a friend told us some trainers do not really care about their clients. So if you can, be choosy next time. You should be getting your money’s worth. Masaya ang boxing, it doesn’t need to feel like torture.

    1. I also think so, too. But I didn’t want to sound like a whiner, and in the end, i was able to finish all the exercises he instructed me to do, so I felt really proud.
      An update though, I already switched gym. I’m currently at Elorde and the trainer was more merciful. 🙂

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