I had a chance to go check out POW in the West Loop over the weekend. POW is a mixed martial arts facility, and has been a part of the neighborhood for ten years. I've always been interested in pursuing something in the general area of mixed martial arts, but didn't have time and certainly didn't know where to start. Before I set foot into POW, I checked out the company's website and was happy to see they offered over 40 classes that varied from Cardio Kickboxing: POW Fit to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 101.
Saturday's 11:00am Muay Thai Bootcamp class worked for my schedule, so I decided to give it a try. Now, I'm a fit person, but not above being humbled. Let me tell you, I knew nothing about Muay Thai other than it's a form of kickboxing popular in Thailand. I showed up to class about 15 minutes ahead of time to fill out waivers and get a feel for the place. When I walked into the main gym area, a kids' class was just wrapping up. I put my bag away in the women's locker room and had a look around. To a woman who is used to a cushy foo-foo health club, the environment was a little intimidating. I waited for class to start next to a boxing ring decorated with a handful of insanely fit men who were stretching in ways that proved to be more limber than I will ever be. Ever.
Before I knew it the kids cleared the floor, and our class instructor, Robbie, called for everyone to line up. I threw myself right into the middle of class and things got going immediately. The warm up consisted of a high kicks, burpees, jumping jacks, full knuckle "big boy" push ups and some stretching. Robbie wasted no time in getting us into the meat of the workout. The class was a good mix of men and women at all different levels. I was really impressed by the skills of the members around me. Clearly they loved what they were doing. It's safe to say that I had the least amount of experience in class. That said, I was happy that another member, Erin, offered to be my partner through the remainder of the hour. The next part of class required boxing gloves and a pad. POW's regular membership includes gloves among other needed accessories, but had a supply of gloves for newbies like me.
Both Robbie and Erin were great in giving me direction without disrupting the flow of class. The rest of class consisted of punching and kicking drills that were honed in on technique. As a fitness professional, it's always a thumbs up to me when the instructor is focused on technique. It ensures not only safety, but also helps to prevent injury. Robbie called out a sequence of movements to be delivered via kick or punch to the bag our partner was holding. Let's just say Robbie has skills, as do many others in the class who seemed to absorb the information he was spouting off like it was an I See Sam book. Thankfully, my partner Erin absorbed it easily as well. After a minute or two, I managed to cop onto the direction Robbie had given.
The drills we went through in class, which amounted to a great workout, hit every part of my body. Before class ended, we went through several sets of partner-based core exercises. The workout was also (lame word coming up) cathartic. In all honestly, "getting it all out" is not just a great way to stay fit, but also a a great way to manage stress! I thoroughly enjoyed class and am excited to go back again.
POW's owner, Katalin Rodriguez Ogren, also happens to be a blogger on ChicagoNow, something I only realized after contacting POW about taking class. If you're interested in mixed martial arts, check out her blog, or POW, located at 950 W. Washington, 312-829-7699. POW offers a variety of memberships, and kids classes, too.