Excuse me, while I get comfortable on my couch. Today was my third day and fourth session of training at Versus Performance – a gym that teaches mixed martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, boxing, fitness, and strengthening and conditioning – and I'm sore. Very sore.
It feels really good to be getting a good workout regularly, but I'll admit I was a little nervous before my first session in Muay Thai on Tuesday because I didn't want to feel like an outsider while I'm there. Turns out, I had nothing to fear. Everyone I've met at Versus have been extremely kind and incredibly patient with me.
During Muay Thai, my Taekwondo training during high school made it difficult to forget some of the things I learned then. For example, it was really hard to react to a kick with a leg-block. My instinct is to block it with my arms. But my trainer, Mike, told me that it's easier to learn something than to un-learn something, which makes sense.
That night, I had to take two breaks during the class. Partly because I was silly and forgot to eat before the session, and also because I'm out of shape, but two were fewer than I'd expected to take!
When I went home, my shoulders, arms and legs felt a little sore, but I didn't think it was that bad.
I was wrong.
As the following day progressed my legs, arms and back started to ache more and more. Web editor and web reporter, Leon and Young, found this incredibly entertaining.
Back at Versus on Thursday, I stepped into the ring for my private training session with Mike, who told me he'd like to work on the basics and fitness with me.
Like he was during Muay Thai, Mike was very patient and encouraging, even as I fumbled at the most basic techniques and strengthening exercises. He taught me the right way to punch, kick and block, which was something he couldn't afford to do during the group class on Tuesday.
I was pretty winded when it was time to cool down, even though we paused often for me to take water breaks. But I really enjoyed the personal training. It pushed me, but it was a challenge that's tailored for me, and it left me a happy red-faced sweaty monster.
Two days later, it was Saturday and time to go back to Versus for MMA training and a session in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I've not encountered either before, so I knew it was going to be extra tough.
I had a different trainer for MMA, but Max was equally as patient and encouraging as Mike as he brought me through the basic take-downs, which is how to make an opponent fall. What was meant to be another group class ended up with just me and another student. So I essentially had another private session!
MMA was a fun challenge for me. But its movements shifted a lot between standing and kneeling, and I'm just not agile enough for that yet.
After, I had a one hour break before my Jiu-Jitsu class. Luckily, my trainer knew this was my first time with this discipline and he was able to take me and another lady, Ming, aside to go through some of the basics with us.
He told us, truthfully, that Jiu-Jitsu doesn't feel natural. It asks the body to contort and move in ways that are difficult and unfamiliar, so you really have to learn each technique carefully and thoroughly. It's a close-contact discipline and you and your opponent often end up looking like a human pretzel.
So far, Versus is proving what Errol, a Londoner who's been training at this gym for around 15 years who I met while waiting for the Jiu-Jitsu class to start, said to me. “There is one thing they don't have here, and that's ego.”