Boxerina: A Challenging Mix of Strength and Grace
"Graceful" is not a word I would use to describe my dancing technique. "Erratic", yes but never has it been "graceful," no matter how hard I try. Learning ballet was something I only dreamt of as a young girl. But instead of leaping through the air in airy dance studios, I was stuck with brothers whose whose imaginations were fuelled by the terribly awful Mortal Combat movies.
I guess it's no wonder why I approached Paola's Body Barre's Boxerina class with apprehension, fear and excitement. Co-hosted by Kate Hudson's Fabletics athletic wear company and led by the Paola Di Lanzo, the Boxerina class promised to be an interesting mix of ballet and boxing. We were there to work the entire body, improve agility, co-ordination, core-strength, endurance, and power while "burn[ing] some serious calories!" I'm not entirely sure if my agility and co-ordination improved but I do know that spending more than 45 minutes with Paola left me dead tired in the best way possible. It actually felt like an accomplishment to walk out the door, to feel like my body did good simply by virtue of not collapsing in the middle dance studio located underneath London's Royal Garden hotel. The class started on a tough note as Paola led us into pliés and ballet positions that made me question if my leg muscles existed. A tip for all: never start a fitness class right behind a fitness blogger who not only has perfect muscle definition but amazing form. It takes a toll on the ego. We were then paired up with one partner donning boxing gloves and the other pads. Paola dove into a quick boxing lesson, teaching the class about jabs, hooks and uppercuts. In many ways, the boxing portion of the class was my favourite bit. It was the perfect time to release pent-up stress and frustration as you punched the pads or resisted your partner's jabs and hooks. Simply put, it just felt good to punch something and realise you're much stronger than you think—especially after a long, tiring day. I felt like Rocky as I, in a moment of absolute vanity, watched myself in the mirror do pushups with the gloves on. But can you blame me when "Eye of the Tiger" is playing in the background? If only someone bellowed "Adrian!"… The class ended on a ballet-focused note as Paola led us through some barre work. It was yet another moment where I questioned if an ounce of grace existed in my body as I struggled to lift my leg behind me in an aesthetically pleasing way. It only got harder when we were supposed to drills with a ball between our legs. Never again… So did I leave my sweat all over the studio floor? Yes. Did my back feel stiff and sore for the next three days because of the class? Yes. Will I go back to another Boxerina class? That I'm not sure of given my lack of ballet talent but I did learn that I'm pretty good at punching and kicking inanimate objects. So maybe. We'll see if my pliés improve in the next year.