“I Trained With Grannies — And Got My Unfit A** Handed Back To Me”
By Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini
Ever seen a gogo with her game face on?
I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to get lapped. I wasn’t ready to power through while secretly dying to take a break. I wasn’t ready for 50 more reps. I just was not ready… to train like a granny.
Boxing is the best way to shape up fast. It’s great for toning, building muscle and coordination, strengthening your heart and kicking some ass too. I heard about the grannies who box from my colleagues. They’re a group of about 30 to 60 grannies who train twice a week at A Team Gym, which is owned and run by coach Claude Maphosa. Now, to be honest, when our fit fitness editor asked me go check them out, this is what I expected…
What I got in reality? No water break.
Before any movement commences, these women are eucharistically given chunks of ginger and garlic. Claude says it’s a detox to help fight infection and reduce inflammation. I receive a portion because I must go through exactly what the grannies experience. And it’s exactly what you’d expect: spicy, bitter, pungent. Not nice. I almost want to spit it out. Some grannies do. Some even naughtily stuff it in their bras. Rule-breakers. I’ve found my fitness tribe. Training starts.
As a boxing aficionado with some experience throwing the ol’ 1-2 punch, I was surprised that these geezers where doing what any other boxer would do: jogging on the spot, marching drills, shadow boxing. Twenty minutes of it. They were a bit out of breath, but they continued. No water break.
The Workout Routine
Everyone gets divided into partners – and awaiting each couple is a turbocharged circuit routine that has a mix of about 40 cardio and strength exercises. My partner, a younger gogo, is around 60 years old. We start at the weights section. Barbell curls. Easy right? No. Not when your timer is a couple of grannies rolling the ab wheel…
I reckon I did 150 curl reps. My gogo partner clocks 100. I’m smug. Next station. Dips. I count 100 reps. My partner: solid 100. My arms are burning a bit. Next station. Ball throws against the wall. I tallied 80. My partner: 100. Immediate trepidation. And still no water break.
We finally get to box in the ring. I slip on borrowed gloves to spar with one of the muscular trainers. As I throw my first cautious punch (it’s been a while since I’ve donned wraps – okay, I confess, it’s been some time since I’ve donned trainers too), the adrenaline kicks in and I feel my heart rate shoot up. It’s my partner’s turn. She seems okay, gently punching back and forth. I’m finished.
What followed were more 40-minute cardio and strength training stations – water break not included.
By the end of this grilling workout, what these old birds showed me was that fitness has no shape, no size and definitely no age. If you’re a 30-something-year-old who hasn’t trained in a year, you will be out-lapped by geriatrics.
They also taught me that it’s never too late to start training again – even if it’s been more than a year. Punch like a man? Never… I’d rather punch like a granny!