Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Presidents In The Ring

I didn't take any pictures at the gym, so here is a lovely picture of our president, Barack Obama.  He took boxing lessons when he was a kid.  His stepfather taught him.

Alan told Jason he was surprised that he came out to the gym.  The temperatures have gone back down and the wind was blowing hard.  Remember, Jason lives way out in the south suburbs.  "The cold doesn't bother me," Jason told Alan.  Not many others came in other than Brandon, Martin, Alicia, and near the end of the evening, Josh.

Did you know that President Gerald Ford was an assistant boxing coach at Yale in 1935?  Neither did I.

As Jason and I threw around the medicine ball again, it occurred to me that there hasn't been any sparring for a while in the gym.  Some guys who attend on and off always seem to show up when there's no one for them to spar with, then they're gone again for awhile.  Most of the women who come in don't want to spar, which cuts down on the opportunities I have to spar (that is, when I'm not dealing with an injury like I am currently). As it gets closer to the opening of the Golden Gloves, maybe some people will show up to get some extra sparring in, but who knows?

President Dwight Eisenhower was an amateur boxer at one time.  So were US presidents James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I saw this lady, Joan Rivers, in person last night.  The college I graduated from brings in various notable people to give speeches each year.  The speeches are free, but people have to make a reservation, then get there early enough to get a ticket.  The main takeaway from her speech was reinvention.  She talked about the struggles to get her career back on track after the late Johnny Carson banned her from "The Tonight Show" and NBC, and her husband committed suicide.  I feel that I'm in danger of being chronically unemployed, and I seriously need to reinvent myself.  Boxing is one of the ways I've been trying to do that.  But maybe I've been going about it the wrong way.  I have to do some brainstorming.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Popping The "Roger"

Alan holds the bag for Alicia as she throws a punch in this photo.  He said to me, "Hasn't she improved?"  "Each time Alicia is here she improves more and more.  She works hard," I replied.

The reason Alan had his jacket on was because it was a bit nippy inside the gym.  The temperatures outside weren't too bad today, but it wasn't warm on the inside.  Also, Alan forgot to bring his gear, so he couldn't work out.  But he was giving a lot of help to Alicia, Sam, and Jason.

Jason and I threw a medicine ball back and forth again.  I had worked up a sweat by the time we did two rounds.  We did one more round after that.  I had forgotten how much work is involved in tossing a medicine ball around.  My left leg felt a lot of the impact of catching the ball.  Jason stood face forward to me, but I was in a modified boxing stance, thinking it would give me a little more leverage.  I dropped the ball a few times, and caught it directly in my stomach at other times.

Sam returned after being out of town on business for awhile.  In this shot, Professor holds the punch mitts for him.  Sam told Alan and I that Lindsey had signed up for a yoga class.  "She didn't like boxing, so she decided to do something else," Sam explained.  "She didn't give it chance," Alan smiled, and I agreed with him.  Lindsey was complaining from day one, and I figured she wasn't going to continue.  Some people take to the sport, and some don't.

Professor noticed that Igor had used spit bucket near the ring, but missed the mark.  I shook my head, but I didn't say anything.  The incident wasn't worth me raising my blood pressure.  Igor returned to the gym after being out for two weeks.  Alicia said last week that Igor was probably staying at home to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics, which took place in Sochi, a town in Russia (Igor is Russian).  Alan and I said she was probably right.  However, when Igor came in, I overheard him tell Alan something about having been sick.

"You were hitting the bag like the 'old' Hillari," Alan told me later on.  I was popping the "Roger" bag very hard with a lot of hooks and overhand rights.  Alan asked if it bothered my leg; he had noticed me limping earlier, especially when I went to use the speed bag.  I told him that sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it doesn't.  I'm hoping that means that some further improvement is taking place.  I just wish the improvements would go faster than they have been.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Easy Night

The body snatcher bag  is really showing wear and tear these days.  This was one of the new bags the gym received back in 2007 when the International Boxing competition was in town. This piece of equipment has really taken a beating over time.

Alan had to attend a meeting for his day job, so I opened the gym.  I hoped for a quiet, easy night, and it was.  The only people who came in were Alicia, Leo, Renee, and later in the evening, Josh.  Renee was laughing about a woman whom a cab driver attempted to drop off in front of the field house.  Seems that she wanted to go to Loyola University to watch a basketball game.  The cab driver told her that the game was being played at the field house.  "They don't play those games here!" Renee heard the woman tell the cab driver.  I wondered how in the heck the driver could have missed Loyola University, which is several blocks south of the field house.  There are signs all over pointing to it.

I held pads for Renee in the ring for three rounds.  I'm a little rusty on holding pads, but we did fine. My left leg was a little unsteady, so I was glad that Josh didn't ask for pad work when he arrived.

Leo admitted that he had trained in a private gym in his home country of Mexico.  "I had to train there because the municipal gym stayed crowded," he said.  The coach at the private gym took a liking to Leo and let him train for free.

My lower back is bothering me.  The temperatures are a little higher (it's about 38 degrees), but there's huge puddles of water on the ground due to melting snow as well as a lot of slippery spots.  I nearly fell on the way to and from the gym.  I caught myself both times, but I jerked my body into odd configurations to keep from hitting the ground.  That's probably why my back feels like it does right now.  Ah, such is middle-aged life.  I'll just pull out the heating pad and Mineral Ice and deal with it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Back To The Workout

When I arrived at the gym, only Alan was there.  Minutes later, Alicia came in, and that was it for the night.  Some more snow fell on the city.  Also, it was Presidents' Day, and as usual, a lot of people probably thought the gym was closed.

My left leg felt good all day.  Then I had to leave the house to walk to the gym down sidewalks and streets that had not been shoveled nor plowed.  I was limping by the time I got to the field house.  But the ointments that Alicia had given me last week have been working.  My leg is not nearly as painful or stiff as it has been. I brought my gear with me, and I was able to do a workout without much difficulty.

Alan told me he cleaned his house for 12 hours the other day from top to bottom.  I wish had that much motivation to do housework as I do to show up to the gym.  But seriously . ..who am I kidding?  What I really wish is that I had a maid.  I've been wishing for a maid since I was five years old.

This is a photo of my niece's fiance, my niece Jalissa, and my stepmother.  We had lunch over the weekend, and it was first time I met my niece's fiance.  My niece had told Gerard that I box some time ago.  I was telling him about the two times I knocked people out during sparring, and the time Alan bloodied my nose with an uppercut.  Gerard was surprised.  "See, I told you that she boxes," my niece said.  He laughed when my niece told him how my other niece -- her older sister -- got on Alan about giving me that uppercut last summer.  "I was just playing with Aunt Hillari's coach about being mad, but Erica was serious!" Jalissa laughed.

Alan took this picture of me.  When more people show up next week, I might be ready for some sparring.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trying To Avoid Stroger

The weather temperatures were not that bad, but still, most of the nineteen people who signed up for the winter session did not show up.  In the photo above, Shane, Sean, and Jason warm up.

"The sooner you go to Stroger to see what's going on with your leg, the sooner you can get back to this," Alan told me.  It was the second day I did no workout.  Earlier, Alan was walking behind me as I made my way down the hall to the gym.  "Don't you want to sit home and watch TV?" I heard him ask.  "There's nothing on except for the Winter Olympics, and they rerun the events again after the 10:00 PM news," I replied.  I seldom leave the house these days other than to go grocery shopping, run miscellaneous errands, and going to the very occasional and rare job interview.  Going to the gym, even though I can't do much of a workout these days, has become the highlight of my week.   Alan shook his head and grinned.  "I know what I'm telling you is falling on deaf ears," he said.  Truth be told, I was thinking of bringing my gear in next week and resuming working out, regardless of what is going on with my leg.

Sean and Shane sparred with each other, and in this photo, Alan gives them instruction.  They got some good hits on each other.  Alan kept joking that the guys must not like each other.

A guy named Thomas came in, and said he used to train with Barry.  Thomas wanted some information about joining the adult program.  His concern was being able to get sparring in with someone who was his height and weight.  The closest person I could think of at that moment was Andres, but Andres hasn't been able to train at the gym on a regular basis.  Sam might had also been a good partner, too, but neither he nor Lindsey have been in the gym for weeks.

Alan was impressed with how Alicia is improving.  I also hear praises about her from Carl, I guy I know around the neighborhood.  Carl keeps saying he's going to try the gym out.  "I have to lose some more weight," Carl always tells me.  I often hear women say that, but it's rare to hear a guy make that statement.  But isn't one of the purposes of the gym to lose weight?  So why wait to drop pounds before going there?

Keith came in a little later, and he and Alan sparred.  They took it at an even pace the first couple of rounds, but then they opened up on each other during the third round.  I was standing on the apron the ring, ready with a water bottle and a bucket.

Alan popped Keith with a right hook that appeared to stun the younger man.  Then Alan got Keith with a jab.  Keith sent Alan back into the ropes a lot, and they were holding enough times for me to have to call "Break!" several times.  I was watching closely, hoping as usual that the brawl wouldn't end with someone being seriously hurt.  Yet they did have a good sparring session.

Martin, Keith, and Jason did a burn out near the end of the evening, beating on the "Roger" bag.  Keith's form was very good.  Martin is slowly getting back into training, and Jason appears to just be starting out.

I got my tax refund back -- in time to pay rent for March -- and there may be a little extra to buy a kettlebell training DVD especially for Baby Boomers such as myself.  I'm thinking that strength training may be the key to overcome the mobility problems I'm experiencing with my left leg.  Alicia was kind enough to give me some ointment samples that may be useful in cutting down on some leg discomfort I've been having.  I have to keep working on doctoring myself; anything to keep from sitting around Stroger Hospital all day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The No Workout Time

I hadn't been outside all day long, so I had no idea how low the temperatures had dropped again.  As usual, I limped to the gym, but I did not bring my gear.  This is the week that Alan suggested that I don't work out because of the ongoing problems with my leg.  It was odd to be at the gym and not do a workout.  But I made myself useful by assisting with coaching the few who arrived at the gym.

Matthew sparred with Andres.  Andres wants to fight in the Golden Gloves; he already has his license.  It was the first time that Andres had been in the gym in awhile.

Here, Alan monitors the action between Matthew and Andres.

Alicia hits one of the heavy bags, while Jason watches Matthew and Andres sparring.  Jason asked Alan to show him how to jump rope.  "I used to be able to jump for a long time, but I think my knees can't take it much anymore," Alan told me.  I also showed Jason how to jump rope, but my knees wouldn't let me do that for too long, either.  As for Alicia, I showed her how to hold her hands better, and how to throw hooks properly.  I also noticed that Brandon was shuffling his feet to reset himself back into his stance after throwing punches.  If someone notices him doing that during sparring or during a fight, they'll use that moment to get a punch in.  Alan agreed with me.  "Don't always throw the same punches and move the same way each time so the other person can't predict what is coming next," the coach said.

I learned that Jason lives way out in the southern suburbs.  That's dedication to come all the way up to the far north side of the city to train, especially in this weather.  The weather has been affecting attendance big time this session.  I have to appreciate all who continue to make their way to the gym despite of that.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Banned For My Own Good

Alan watches as Edward does his homework.  Edward had to solve a series of math problems involving fractions.  I shuddered when I saw his assignment.  It reminded me of how I struggled with math when I was in grade and high school.  Yet Edward didn't appear to be very intimidated by the numbers.

Leo and Keith were the only two who sparred.  It appeared that Leo was taking a lot of shots from Keith because Leo wasn't keeping his hands up, especially during the first round.

Professor might have had to work, and most likely, so did Jamil, which probably explains why they were not in the gym.  Alan and I saw Ben when we walked into the field house, but Ben didn't come to the gym.  We were a little puzzled about that.  Igor didn't show, which is always a good thing.  But as for some of the others who weren't there. . . .I have a feeling they may not return.  The weather is a factor, I know.  I used to love snow.  But slogging through it to get anywhere this winter -- and it snowed again last night -- has officially become irritating.  I slipped and fell the other day, too, and yep, I fell right on the leg that has been bothering me since before Christmas.

Brandon works the heavy bag in this photo.

Alan told me I was going to be banned from the gym  "Banned?  Why?" I asked.  "Hillari, you were walking fine when you first got here.  But now I see limping again.  You should lay off of training, at least for a week," he answered.  Alan then told me I can come to the gym next week, but I should just sit down when I'm there.  Martin suggested, as Alan had previously, that I should go to Stroger Hospital to find out what is going on with my left leg.  But I'm not a fan of free clinics and charity hospitals.  One reason is that the medical staff have no respect for any one's time, let alone the fact that people are seeking medical attention.  I have to spend the bulk of my days looking for a job, and spending eight hours or more in a waiting room hoping that I'll be seen at some point is not a good use of my time. But I'm now beginning to wonder if what I'm experiencing is more than just a possible torn or sprained muscle.  I'm perplexed -- sometimes it seems to be healing, albeit slowly, then the next minute, I'm in pain again, struggling to keep my balance.

It will be hard just sitting and standing around in the gym, but that will give me a chance to work on my coaching skills by observing others do in the gym while they work out and spar.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Advice Regarding The Golden Gloves

The Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament begins next month.  Registration for the tournament takes place this month.  Fighters in gyms around the city are gearing up to prepare for the event.  I've often thought about what I would tell those who want to compete if I was the main coach in a gym. . . .

1)  Take it seriously because others will.

Several years ago, I was in attendance at a Chicago Park District boxing show.  During one fight, I heard one person yelling instructions from the crowd to one of the fighters.  When the fight ended, I heard the same person in the crowd say, "Don't worry about it. . . .it's just a sparring session anyway."  However, no fighter can afford to think like that at the Gloves.  The Gloves are a stepping stone to those who are a) planning to go on to the National Golden Gloves as well as other sanctioned tournaments to try for a spot at the Summer Olympics, or b) planning to go straight on into professional boxing.  People will bring their A game to the ring, and punch through opponents in order to win the championship.

2)  Last minute training ain't gonna get it.  

The best time to start training for the Gloves is a few months before the tournament, not a couple of weeks before.  I've seen some exceptions here and there, where some show up at the eleventh hour, enter the tournament, and win.  But that is not the norm.

3)  Sparring is not the only training method.

Yes, sparring is an important part of the training process, but other things have to be done, too.  Roadwork, bag and pad work, eating right and losing weight, cardio exercises, and getting proper rest are part of it, as well.

4) Stick with a team.

In the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, the author putting emphasis on putting together a team of people to assist in reaching success.   The same thing should be done in preparation for success at the Gloves.  There's the coach, others at the gym whose opinions one trusts, supportive family and friends, etc.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Reygie Makes A Return

Reygie, who's shadow boxing in the above photo, came in the gym.  He hadn't been there in about a year.  Reygie is a personal trainer at a fitness center out in the north suburbs.  It was very good to see him.  He has about 25 to 30 clients that he works with at his job.  Each client has different fitness goals they want to reach.  Reygie does an assessment with them first before mapping out a fitness plan for them.  

There were extra people in the gym, including Ozzie (in this photo shadow boxing), Nate, and Jason.  No one wanted to spar, however.  Matthew said that he lost his mouthpiece, and that he has to buy a new one.  My left leg is still not 100%, although if Brenda had been in the gym, I would have been up for some light sparring.

Alan suggested that I go to Stroger Hospital (the replacement for the old Cook County Hospital) to have a doctor look at my leg.  "I know you might have to sit there all day, but at least someone will check it out," he said.  A good suggestion, but I don't have the time to sit around at Stroger.  I have bad memories of doing the same at the old Cook County Hospital, and it wasn't even for me.  The last time I was at the County, I was with my younger sister.  Neither one of us knew it at the time that the symptoms she was experiencing were due to cancer.  My sister hadn't investigated whether or not she had insurance via her job. The County, just like Stroger does now, took care of people who had no insurance.  We didn't get out of there until after 2:00 AM.  I grumbled to my sister that I found it impossible to believe that she had absolutely no insurance.  "I'm not coming up to the County again," I snapped.  Later, my sister went to the human resources department, learned she did have insurance, and she went to a better hospital.  That was back in the year 2000; I never set foot in the County again, and it closed a few years later.

Alicia was working hard again, as usual.  Even Reygie noticed that and complimented her on it.  She asked me how to wrap her hands.  I didn't notice that she didn't have hand wraps before.  I showed her the quick way that I wrap my hands.  Alan had wrapped Nate's hands, drawing the wrap in-between his fingers.  Nate was trying to duplicate what the coach had done on one hand on his other hand.  I tried to help him with wrapping in-between his fingers, but I wasn't telling Nate the right thing.  I watched as Alan wrapped Nate's other hand, and learned how to do that.  

Nate and Brandon share a workout on "Roger", the big red heavy bag.

Jason works the other heavy bag.  

Reygie snapped this picture.  Alan looks as if he was aware of the photo being taken, but I was clueless.  It's a nice shot.  It had to had been taken near closing time, because I'm putting on my winter boots.  I almost didn't come to the gym because I couldn't shake the foul mood I had been in since the day before.  It was a cummulation of just being tired of being frustrated by everything that has gone on since late summer of last year.  But I'm glad I pushed myself out of the house, because I was in a much better mood after I arrived there.