I arrived at Chelsea
Piers yesterday for my second training session with CP boxing coach Jason Lee.


Once again, Jason
wrapped my hands, but this time in tandem with a lecture about how I should
have learned how to do this myself by now. On my second day.


Just like Monday's
session, we kicked things off with six minutes on the jump-rope, and then
things got intense...


First, Jason
introduced me to a jump-rope that I had never used before, the heavy-weighted
speed rope. It's just like a regular jump-rope, except the rope is thicker and
it feels like the handles are dumbbells. Turns out all the added weight is
actually in the rope.


But before getting
started with that, Jason took me over to another section of the gym to show me
how to do sledgehammer swings, an exercise I've been dying to try since I first
learned of its existence. After all, how many gyms do you know that allow you
to pummel a tire with a gigantic hammer?


"Before we get
you sparring, I want to see how good your rotation is," he said as we
walked over.


Turns out sledgehammer
swings aren't as simple as they look. It seems like the arms are doing most of
the work, when it's really all in the abs. After a couple tries, I finally got
it right and started going to town on the tire. But that was just the warm-up.


Now that I was
familiar with the heavy-weighted speed rope and sledgehammer swings, the next
step would naturally be to superset the two exercises for three back-to-back
sets with no rest. So that's what I did. Thirty seconds of jump-rope, followed
by 30 seconds of sledgehammer swings. Repeat. Repeat.


My reward? A 15-second


Next we returned to
the same rope exercise I did on Monday. You know, the one where you grab a rope
in each hand and try make waves. From now on I'll be calling those "rope
waves." We paired a 15-second set of that with a 20-rep set of light-weight
trap-bar deadlifts. Same deal; three supersets, no breaks.


At the end of it all,
Jason explained the method behind his apparent madness. He was getting me tired
for my first sparring match, which, unbeknownst to me at the time, would start
in about 10 minutes. And it wouldn't be a stereotypical first sparring match if
it weren't against a five-foot-tall girl.


As I prepared for my
first experience in the ring, I wrestled with the thought of fighting a girl.
You know, because it's wrong to hit them and stuff. Turns out that wasn't going
to be a problem.


"You're just
gonna block her punches," Jason said. "Move around and don't let her
get too close," which is how I usually react when confronted with a woman
trying to punch me in the face. Not that I'd ever get into a situation like that. Danielle.


I began gearing up.
Wraps, check. Gloves, check. Mouthguard, check. Headgear, check. Groin guard,
definitely check.


Once we got in the
ring I immediately started getting the hang of it. Circling around, I blocked
my opponents jabs with my right hand, as Jason taught me, and deflected her
rights with my left. This, in itself, isn't that hard, but simultaneously
trying to remember all the elements of proper form from my previous session
made it a real challenge. There was definitely at least one time when I got
jabbed in the face as I tried to remember which way my front foot should be


A couple rounds later,
I finally got a chance to go one-on-one with Jason and throw a few punches of
my own. He stayed on the defensive, allowing me to rain punches down, but he
wasn't exactly letting me hit him. Something I really enjoy about my time in
the ring with Jason is that he is always training with a fight in mind. Instead
of telling me my guard was down, he punched me in the face. Yeah, it sucked.
But next time I feel my guard dropping I'll pull it right back up.


With my first sparring
session behind me, I feel a lot more confident going forward with my training.
I now know which aspects of my game need improvement, and luckily for me, I
have a trainer who can help me get there.