Exercise and me have a weird relationship. Exercise is always there, is good to me and will take good care of me if I let it. All I have to do is give it some regular attention. This meager task has been beyond me for most of my adult life. I can’t count the number of times I “discovered” health, totally getting psyched in my head that THIS TIME WILL BE THE TIME I GET IN SHAPE. I buy workout clothes and a new combination lock for my gym locker. That combination lock usually would usually end up on my shelf with several other combination locks. Why did I have so many combination locks on my shelf? Because I would inevitably stop working out… and then forget the damn combination. I think I had four or five locks by the time I left for Korea; a painful reminder of health-attempts past.
My current getting-healthy endeavor began four weeks ago, when I received a call from a fellow teacher friend named Issac. He found out about some Tae Kwon Do classes that offered a nice rate on group lessons. The class was going to meet every day from 11-12am at a Tae Kwon Do gym conviently located one block away from my apartment. It seemed like a safe bet to me. Sure, I hazarded. Why not? What did I have to lose?
As it turns out, only one more person elected to join us (fellow teacher Natalie), and we went to our first lesson filled with trepidation but lots of eagerness. Our new teacher was a guy named Master Jeong (pronounced like “Bong”). We all thought he was in his twenties, but he surprised us by saying he was 41 with a wife and family. Flabbergasted, we began our first lesson.
Master Jeong’s english is, unfortunately, not very good, but despite the language barrier he managed to convey his meanings very effectively. It wasn’t long before we were doing lots of kicks and punches into the air while leaping about and shouting “Aiya!” We were all very aware of how old, out-of-shape, and white we looked. I’m sure the image I presented resemebled something akin to a beached whale trying to punch it’s way back to sea, but we preservered.
The next morning I woke up to every muscle and limb screaming bloody murder. I stood up, my legs nearly refused to cooperate. An MSN conversation with Natalie revealed that she felt the same way, but we agreed we’d definitely keep with it. A hot shower and a cup of coffee later, I was back at Tae Kwon Do class – leaping and kicking and destroying my body all over again. The next day, I did it again. And the next.
Four weeks later, I am still doing it. I no longer ache in the morning, and look forward to it every day. Master Jeong is an amazing teacher, and one of the nicest people I have ever met anywhere. He occasionally joins us for lunch after class, and although our conversations are difficult he is great company. He even took us out for Christmas dinner with his family, which was an amazing gesture on his part. He seems to be on a mission to stretch me, as he once remarked that my back was “very very stiff!” (I have a accupuncturist friend at home who can attest to the same thing). Sometimes, when Issac and Nat are doing their cool-down exercises, Master Jeong grabs me and starts twisting me into various shapes. It’s wicked painful, but feels great afterward.
Already I can feel it sort of working. I can do more sit-ups now than when I started, and although I haven’t noticed, Master Jeong says I am kicking much higher now than four weeks ago. Tomorrow he wants us to take a test for our orange belt, which is the next baby step after white. I am not sure if we are ready, but if he says we are than I guess we are.
I know I probably should have posted about this sooner, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep it up. It would have just been embarressing to announce that I was taking Tae Kwon Do only to explain that I stopped a mere three days later. I can safely say that won’t happen soon, but I am still glad that I didn’t have to buy a combination lock.