I joined the Title Boxing Club in late August to work off the summer cocktails; I’m so sick of the gym and I wanted to work my body in way that felt useful and functional.
But news of NFL players using their warrior strength to abuse the women and children around them has made me think about women feeling vulnerable and defenseless. Has made me think about how much stronger my thighs and upper body and core have gotten in the three weeks I’ve been going to the boxing gym. Has made me think that if, god forbid, I’m in a position where I have to defend myself, I might now have a better idea of what I’m doing.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s a woman’s responsibility to prevent herself from being hit. It’s a man’s responsibility to not hit. But the jab, cross, hook, uppercuts that I’ve been giving the 100-pound bag at the Title Boxing Club might give me an advantage I hadn't had against an attacker I hope I'll never have to face.
Heidi Dallman, trainer at the Title Boxing Club in Falls Church, said that while the club isn’t inherently teaching self defense, the moves learned can give someone the confidence they need to discourage a would-be attacker. “You have muscle memory, and that memory might hold someone off.”
The newly opened Title Boxing Club in Falls Church is not what you imagine when you think of a “boxing gym.” It’s clean and gleaming and light-filled, without the gross 40-year-old couch and the guys yelling, “Adrian,” that Heidi remembers from her first boxing gym. The trainers are friendly and encouraging, pushing you to give a little bit more with enthusiasm and without the drill sargeant. The membership is a cross-section of fit Millenials, suburban moms and dads, and teens and tweens coming in with their parents. And while the hour-long boxing and kickboxing classes are intense, a person of average fitness ability (me!) can complete them and feel like a badass when she’s done.
“Ninety-eight percent of the people who join have no aspiration to get into the boxing ring,” Heidi said. What they want are those incredible boxer bodies, so Title Boxing Club emulates boxing workouts in order to give members those. “There are so many cardio kickboxing classes out there, but you have to be hitting that 100-pound bag to really see changes.”
A typical boxing or kickboxing class is broken up into three parts: a 15-minute warm up session that involves lots of high-energy cardio; a 30-minute session of working the bag, broken up into intervals with quick 30-second breaks; and 15-minutes of core work and cool down. Heidi recommends that people attend classes at least three times a week in order to see results.
She tells the story of a young woman who saw results in less time: The woman had recently joined that old, grubby gym Heidi used to go to. The woman had only been to the gym once or twice, couldn't fight a lick, when, crossing a dark parking lot, a guy ran at her with his skateboard raised over his head to hit her. The woman jumped into her fighting stance, raised her fists, and said, "Bring it on." The guy ran off.
That attack wasn't victimless; the woman cried as she told the story the next day. But when you hear the stat that three women are killed by their intimate partners every day in the United States, you understand how much worse it could have been. Whether it's a stranger or a partner, no real man hits. Real women have options. One of them is to fight back.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
In-Between Tip: On Saturday, Sept. 27, from 2:30-4 p.m. Title Boxing Club Falls Church will host Safety Blueprint, a women's personal safety workshop. Shawn Rafferty, with 20 years of experience in the public and private security sector, will teach women ways to avoid being a victim. Contact the Falls Church club at 703-992-6888 to reserve a spot. The workshop cost is $50 per person.