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Boxing workouts offer everything we need—including pain.
By Hannah Wallace
CCB and Big J warm up on the treadmills at Uppercut Boxing.
Monday night: CCB, Big J and I mingle in the lobby of Uppercut Boxing & Fitness, a serious gym hidden on the back end of an industrial park off McIntosh Road. Concentrating like we just learned to tie shoelaces, we wind long, stretchy-cotton Mexican hand wraps to sturdy our wrists and protect our knuckles. We shoot the breeze and talk a little trash, bounce a bit to get the blood flowing, fart around with the speed bags, joke like we’re hot shots. Aaron “Jedi” Jaco, pro-boxer and Uppercut proprietor, strolls on over, tells a few jokes and talks a little trash of his own.
The ever-humble Aaron Jaco.
Then Aaron’s switch flips, and it starts: "OK, 15 seconds on, 15 seconds jump squats. Let's go."
The bell rings, sort of a synthesized version of the start of a MSG prize fight. And we're off—one-two, one-two, one-two—punching the 75 lb. bag, pushing it up and toward the wall (CCB and Big J work 150 lb. bags, all hanging from the 20-foot ceiling). Fifteen seconds ain't nothin', right? One-two, one-two, one...two? Whew. Is it kinda warm in here? The bell rings again, just in time—that bag was about to get heavy. Can’t dwell on that, we’re squatting now: down, up, feet spring off the ground and back down again.
Aaaaaand right about now I can't breathe.
So, in the daze I try to occupy my mind by calculating the time left: 15 seconds per increment, and we’ve done...how many now? Oh, almost two, crap, there's the bell again, pound the bag pound the bag...sooo, this is, um...almost 45 seconds? So that means out of...three minutes in a round...that makes it—crap, squats again, up-down, up-down, up...down…up...? "Keep going, Hannah."
That’s just the first minute of the hour-long workout.
But it’s a laid-back kind of ass-kicking. At 32, with a boxing pedigree (his father, Dave Jaco, fought Foreman, Douglas and Tyson) and an ongoing pro career of his own, Aaron’s a friendly, confident guy—the perfect combination of challenging and encouraging needed to train the general public (which he’s been doing now for several years). For our parts, CCB, Big J and I continually dish some smartass to help kill the pain…in between gasping for air, of course.
I get in some practice on the speed bag.
The exercise variations are endless: On the heavy bags alone, we throw jabs, hooks or straight punches for increments of 15, 30 or 60 seconds—in between squats or push-ups or other torturous exercises with distracting names like “mountain climber” and “burpee.” Three-minute rounds, you’ll quickly learn, are an eternity.
CCB rests his arms in between heavy bag exercises.
And after 20 minutes or so of that, when we’re too tired to over-think (god, what a blessed state), we work on technique, punching the mitts as Aaron suggests slight adjustments to our form, until we can turn instructions like “four, slip-right, duck, double-jab, straight, hook” into a moderate approximation of a boxer.
Aaron helps CCB with his gloves.
And then abs. Oh, the endless work to strengthen the core. Who knew there were so many ways to reproduce the pain of exploratory abdominal surgery?
Hour over yet? Not quite: Set the stationary bike at a moderate resistance and pedal one mile in three minutes. Then we’re done.
Keep in mind, CCB and I do all this about 24 hours after playing hockey. Which is the excuse we use when we start crying.
Aaron shouts instructions from outside the ring.
So far, since we started, none of the three of us has puked. (Remember, we’ve got the silent auction at Club Forty to thank for all this.) We’ve also been going to the open Thursday-night “boot camp” class at 6:30 to keep our fitness up through the latter half of the week. We’re toned and stronger and energized, and we frequently enjoy that braindead-from-asphyxia kind of post-workout euphoria.
That all adds up to a big confidence boost. It’s great to walk around feeling like I could really beat the crap out of someone. If only I could lift my arms…
Below: CCB and Big J demonstrate what they've learned in a post-workout sparring match. (Please do not hold this attempt at sparring against Aaron and his business. Also, in case you were wondering, CCB’s shirt reads “It’s not a beer belly; it’s a fuel tank for a sex machine.” I know: hot.)