There are many ways to fight aging: intensely regimented calorie-restricted diets, anti-gravity yoga, shooting up with pregnant women's urine, or, according to the Washington Post, kicking other people in the ribs. The crowds at boxing, karate, and kickboxing gyms these days, the Post reports, are getting a little grayer, or in their somewhat less kindly description, more "brittle." Luckily for everyone involved, the story doesn't include tales of splintering bones. Instead, it's about overcoming middle-age. "What are we doing here? We're all trying to fend off the march of time," says one of the 40-something boxers. "That's what I'd like to achieve physically." Though apparently for a few, perhaps wiser salt-and-pepper boxers who realize that might not be possible, there are other goals too. Explaining why he's in the gym, sparring, one 50-something says:
"Overcoming pain is something we all have to do. The pain of loss. The pain of disappointment. Physical pain. Being able to take that in and absorb it and go on...This is what life is all about. Realizing what you're up against and how to get around it."
Call me crazy, but working out with something like that in mind sounds a little better than being a calorie-starved, high-on-urine, stem-cell-facelifted, clinging-to-an-impossible-goal, punching machine.
The typical scenario is this: Americans head to India, take an idea (typically yoga related), then tweak it, bring it back to America, patent it, and make a million bucks off it. India is trying to put the kibosh on that, but meanwhile, here's a somewhat notable variation. This time, an American is taking something American and trying to get it to catch on in India. Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield is opening up a chain of gyms and boxing clubs and academies throughout the country, with flagship gyms in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Phase 2 of his plan is to launch a line of Evander Holyfield shakes and supplements in India. Unlike France where no self-respecting Frenchman will set foot inside a gym, India’s sports and fitness market is growing at 35% a year, so Holyfield and Co. are expecting some mega-profits. India, you give us strength, flexibility, and inner peace; in return, we give you protein powder and mouth guards. Okay, that's not quite fair. Silky shorts and fancy footwork are part of the package as well.
Golden Oldie alert! Reaching back to late summer 2009 for a classic from our My Body series. ~ The Eds.
I used to do Pilates for exercise when I first moved to L.A. I was really good at it. It was all the Beverly Hills housewives and me. The place was called “Pilates Plus.” This French guy ran it, and he used to grab all the cougars' asses who were in the class while they were working out. It was a great workout, but I couldn’t take all the yentas. It was fifteen Joan Riverses and me.
I haven’t been to the gym in a long time. I box now. The regular gyms in L.A. are horrible. Literally, Fabio works out at my old gym. Once I saw Vin Diesel working out with a giant wooden staff. It's so douchey, it's unbelievable. It’s irritating and horrible. Once I was in a spin class and the teacher was like, "This is why you don’t work as actors! You don’t push yourself!”
I like the idea of going someplace where what you do for a living doesn’t matter. When you go to a boxing gym, you’re treated the same same no matter who you are. There’s no posturing in boxing. You can put on any front you want, but, once you get in the ring, you have to back it up. Everyone is really friendly, but they beat the shit out of each other. I get my ass whipped all the time. Some of the guys I train with fight for a living, and they have nothing to prove. There’s something very America about it. It’s like jazz. It’s a throwback sport. It’s the hardest workout there is. Because you’re working out and trying to not to get punched in the face at the same time. It would be like if you were holding a position in yoga trying to breathe and relax, and at the same time the yoga teacher was kicking you in the face. But boxing doesn’t hurt. It’s not a painful experience. You wear so much padding. You learn how to do it. I got the shanan punim. I got the money maker. I can’t get hit in the face. All the actors wear headgear because they don’t want to get punched in the face.More...
I just did AN HOUR of wii sports (mostly boxing) with my dear roommate, andrealc23. I whooped her butt. she won at tennis though. I am THE SWEATIEST. and now, I am going to take a shower and slip between clean sheets in my clean bedroom.
"He's not just a boxing coach, and that's what really drew me to him. Emmett coaches people in life just as much or more as he does in boxing....Those little things he talks about are the things that get you far in life. And he's always been there for me, in any situation. He's become a member of my family.''
— Robert Brant, 19-year-old USA Boxing lightweight-heavyweight national title holder, describing his coach, 90-year-old Emmet Yanez.
"Too often my brain whispers to me: Peter, you don’t belong in a yoga class. You’re a boxer. You can’t stretch, or come close to locking a knee. You’re making a fool of yourself. You’re too old....My brain has always been my main opponent. Even as a strong eighteen-year-old middleweight, while punishing the heavy bag, or trying to defeat some opponent, my brain whispered the same thing: Peter, who are you kidding? You’re not a boxer. You don’t have the right stuff it takes to fight. Besides, you have asthma, and you hate fighting."
— Peter Wood in "An Old Boxer Stands On A Yoga Mat." His full essay, which is quite beautiful, on getting over your opponent the brain on The Sweet Science.
Michael Olajide, former #1 ranked middleweight fighter in the world, is a Million Minute Spirit Guide. Below, he offers Social Workout challengers a basic boxing-driven workout routine. Above, we offer you Olajide and his partner Leila Fazel in the ring at the 2009 Aerospace High Performance Center World Championships.
What's that, you ask? Aerospace is Olajide and Fazel's ballet-meets-boxing gym in New York's Meatpacking district. Each year, Aerospace holds a "championship" benefit, with all the proceeds going to the East Harlem School. Among Aerospace members are people like Hugh Jackman and Will Smith, so this benefit can get kind of interesting. People don't actually box each other, but they do some very aggressive shadow sparring, and they're judged in three lovely categories:
"Swagga” (do you carry yourself like a champ?), “Get-up” (wardrobe), and “Realism” (do you move and punch like a fighter?)
Our advice: Watch the video, follow Michael's instructions below, and mark your calendar for the 2010 Aerospace championships, which go down next Thursday, May 6th at 8 P.M....More...
Bag Punching for 3 mins at a time
Spa-ing with trainer in the ring while he holds pads for 3 mins at a time.
Swim - Which means lying frontwards over a huge inflatable ball while pulling eleasticed rings from behind and 'swimming' for 2 minutes.