By Diane Weintraub Pohl Published May 25, 2011

Muay Thai
KickFit, Belmars Martial Arts & Fitness

Two minutes into the jump rope warm-up, and I know I´m in trouble. We´re jumping in place, one minute slow, one fast, and by the end of the second minute I´m sucking air. Maybe martial arts coach/instructor Peter Belmar will call another slow-minute jump? No such luck. Then it´s down to the mat for 10 push-ups, then 10 crunches, and then 10 leg/head raises on our stomachs. And it´s a race yet; Belmar calling out names as each of us finishes. I´m dead last. Then we´re jumping rope again, slow to fast. This series repeats five times. I can’t complete any of the reps, though the other 11 participants can. And…this…is…just…the…warm…up. I fear—dread?—the next 45 minutes.

We don boxing gloves and partner up. Belmar partners with me, instructing I keep my hands up at my face, then punch straight out and hit his thrusting gloves as hard as I can. We start boxing, right glove to right, left to left. “Faster, keep your hands up, straighten your arms, faster!” I punch hard, there’s something primal in this, aggressive, exhilarating. But then he calls for shin kicks, picks up two large pads and has a tattooed blond demo a kick that could waste Jackie Chan. I lean back for leverage, twist at the waist and kick high, slamming the pad with my shin, 10 kicks with the right, 10 with the left; a martial arts Rockette!

Belmar demands multiple sets, though, switching off boxing and kicking, and I have to stop: I can´t raise an arm or leg any longer. Must…get…water. He calls me back: ´Come on, pick up the pace, faster, faster.” I´m dripping sweat. Roundhouse kicks follow, and then excruciating sets of jumps. I force myself to move, but it´s in slow motion. I can’t keep up. We finish with a slow walk and floor stretches, but I´m done for. Did I say exhilarating? I’m exhilarated that I’m still alive.
Going Hard-Core