With #holidayszn in the rearview mirror and with an eye toward #swimsuitszn, I have recently begun to seek out new and exciting forms of exercise to break up the monotony of my current gym routine. In doing so, I sought out to try one of the trendy fitness classes Calgary has seemingly been flooded with.
While not a boutique fitness aficionado, I am certainly no stranger to the many fitness studios Calgary is home to, having experimented with the odd spin class, hot yoga session and a lone isolated incident with something called “Surfset”. Most recently, however, I have been inspired by my friends to check out one of the many Calgary boxing gyms that seem to be popping up all around town.
In an attempt to find out what all the fuss is about, I pulled out my laptop and signed up to give one of these aforementioned classes the ol’ college try. The studio that I had selected to show me the ropes – pun intended – was Rumble.
I am very proud to say that I spent a good chunk of my formative years watching 80s action movies with my dad. Among our favorites was the Rocky franchise. It is thanks to my love affair with those movies that I have developed a warped perception of what a boxing gym should be.
Shortly after beginning my trek to Rumble’s 17th Ave. location (they also recently opened a 2nd Rumble Boxing Gym in NW Calgary), I immediately began to picture the blood-stained canvas and worn leather that was featured so heavily in those Rocky movies and immediately felt intimated at the notion of going to this class. With the mental image of animal hides covered in a cocktail of bodily fluids fresh in my mind, I had finally arrived at my destination.
To my extremely pleasant surprise, the Calgary boxing gym was the polar opposite of the fight club featured in my favorite film franchise. The space is bright, clean and tastefully decorated with plenty of their vibrant and stylish merchandise offering contrast to the neutral toned paint that adorns the studio walls (my personal favorite piece of merch would have to be the Mike Tyson graphic tee that had the phrase “everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth” superimposed over top.)
The facility also boasts a bespoke boxing ring that serves as the primary location of their Private Training program, a high-performance gym that is equipped with your standard weight room offerings such as power racks, dumbbells, and TRX bands as well as two well-stocked and well-maintained change rooms that are so white and shiny, you’d think you were taking a shower at P Diddy’s house.
Immediately upon entering Rumble, I was greeted by Chelsea who was very helpful in getting me sorted. She gave me a tour of the facility, showed me how to claim my bag (I went with bag 21 partially in support of my man 21 Savage and partially because at the time, there weren’t any other bags claimed near me) and she even offered to help me with my hand wraps (first timers do have to purchase a pair but they’re yours to keep after!). After I had geared up, I spent the rest of my time waiting for while the rest of the “Rumble Tribe” to file in.
While I was waiting for the class to start, I struck up a conversation with our instructor Kealan. During our conversation about the weather, I managed to accidentally mention how nervous I was about the class. The conversation went as follows:
Joe: Keep this on the DL but I’m kind of nervous for this class. I don’t really know what to expect.
Kealan: Do you like music?
I was so taken back by the question. What kind of question is “Do you like music?”. Everyone likes music! That’s like asking if someone likes puppies, or pizza or Nickelback (ok that last one is probably just me.)
It was then that I realized what Kealan was saying. Rumble, like music, is supposed to be for everyone. They seek to make something as seemingly intimidating as boxing easily accessible for all kinds of would-be boxers. The staff at Rumble were committed to making this as fun, light-hearted and streamlined as possible.
Joe: Uhhh… yeah….
Kealan: Then you’ll be fine.
I hoped she was right.
Finally, it was time to face my fear – and my punching bag. I lined up at bag 21 and to my dismay, there was another person parked right next to me. I later found out that her name was Caroline but not before I explained to her that I had never done this before and that she should reserve her judgment on my boxing skills. Caroline laughed, told me I had nothing to worry about and gave me a high-five.
It was then that Kealan had started the class and I began to participate in our active warmup which involved shadow boxing. I was painfully aware of how ridiculously bad my shadowboxing skills were but after a few minutes, I was less focused on how dumb I looked and more focused on grooving to the catchy playlist carefully curated by our motivator. The tracks were up-tempo and energizing. After a few more rounds against Shadow Joe, it was time to start the class for real.
Ironically, it is when the gloves finally go on that the gloves come off, so to speak.
Over the next 50 minutes, I embarked on an extremely humbling workout albeit, one that was also extremely fun. The class is exhilarating and engaging. The first part of class is spent getting familiar with the 6 basic punches and their corresponding numbers. Those same numbers are then used to create combinations (it starts off very basic with something universally known as a 1-2, but then progresses in complexity as the class goes on). Between the LED lights, groovy tunes and the concise and impassioned direction from Kealan I quickly found myself completely locked-in to the task at hand – that being laying the smackdown on this heavy bag – so much so that I even forgot there were other people in the studio.
After the fun stuff was over, the class concluded with about 5 minutes of stretching and some mingling outside the studio. I sought out to chat with Caroline one last time. She complimented my rhythm, I complimented her full head of hair, we shared a laugh then bid each other adieu. Fully realizing I had made a new BFF, I gave her a fist bump and we went our separate ways.
All in all, my first experience at rumble was overwhelmingly positive, between the gorgeous facility, the compassionate staff, the killer workout, and the friendly clientele, I could see myself spending a lot of time there – especially on nights where the studio hosts its Rumble social, which is focused around two of my favorite things: drinks and exercise! It is events like this that make a class at rumble one of the most enjoyable fitness classes Calgary has to offer.
All in all, I had a blast during my first time at Rumble and I can say with absolute certainty that I will definitely be back for a class soon– or at the very least, for that Mike Tyson shirt!