The night before my first class as an official Healthworks member, I glanced at the schedule to look at the many options I would have the next day after work. Something called “Punk Rope” caught my eye.

Though my day job is very fun and somewhat unpredictable, I do sit at a computer all day so the unknown physical experience of Punk Rope enticed me and seemed to be a light at the end of a long day’s tunnel. I didn’t know what to expect from the class but I assumed I would be jumping rope the entire time. I hadn’t jumped rope in awhile (think: phys ed circa 1992) and wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up with the pace of the class.

When I reached the studio Tuesday night, all the lights were off except for one in the center of the room, about where the instructor would stand. An intermediate boxing class had just let out, so I was sure the darkened studio was meant to give the effect of a boxing ring or maybe make the mood a little more intense. It also set the tone for the Punk experience in which I was about to partake.Since I was the first one to enter the room, I wasn’t sure what to do. I stood in the back of the room pretending to be busy examining my water bottle and fiddling with my towel. Soon the studio filled up with students looking equally unsure of what to do. Suddenly a tough looking character moved toward me from the darkest corner of the room. It was Teanna, the Punk Rope instructor. I was intimidated. Maybe it was the purplish red dye job, the black kitty cat tattoo on her bicep or the part scowl/part smirk she had on her face as she approached the group. Either way when she told me to grab a rope and test it out, I felt as though I had never even seen a jump rope before. I stumbled over to the pile of ropes looking for a long one, found a neon blue rope with orange handles that suited my height, and got settled in.

Before starting the music and the class, Teanna laid down the ground rules for Punk Rope. First, you don’t just set your rope down on the floor. You throw caution to the wind and slam your rope down or whip it toward a wall when the jump drill is over (watch out for your neighbor!). Second, you do what Teanna says or you don’t. Punk is all about anarchy so do what you want, do what feels right. On a more structured note (don’t tell the Punk Police!), she also explained that we would complete intervals of jumping for 90 seconds to a minute and a half with drills in between. To me this seemed like something I could accomplish.

I was a little shocked by the rules, or lack thereof, (what did I expect – it’s Punk!) but when Iggy Pop’s voice boomed over the speakers and we were instructed to warm up by dancing to “Real Wild Child,” I followed suit. Flailing my arms each time Iggy chanted “I’m a wild one,” I thought that though the class was going to be crazy it would be fun at the very least. Soon I loosened up taking a cue from Teanna who bounced around and diving deep into punk mode. As we started to jump rope, I quickly channeled the ups that I had left back at the playground.

After our first interval, the real fun started. Teanna instructed us to find a partner and get in to a push up stance. Then we were told to “slam our partners face to the floor.” As my partner and I completed the drill, I began to realize the variety of benefits this class was going to offer me. Originally I considered only the cardiovascular benefits but as we pushed and pulled at each other, the stress relief and core work out became an added bonus. Part of that was due to the uncontrollable giggling that came over me as I imagined what I looked like wrestling a perfect stranger.punkrope_kate

We got up and continued jumping to the sounds of Green Day and Irish punk bands, each time trying a new jump: criss cross, double jumps and Irish step dancing. In between we jumped with partners, high fiving each other mid air, we ran relay races with a “sea urchin” toss and celebrated by jumping up and down after each leg of the race. It felt good to get lost in the chaos of the class, letting the stress of the day ooze out. I felt like a kid again releasing my balled up energy.

We rounded out the class with a grand finale dance set to Devo’s “Whip It!” By this time I had fully embraced the class, forgetting myself in the moment and finding my inner punk. I felt refreshed and empowered. At the very end of the class, Teanna pulled out a paper shopping bag. Little did I expect to be receiving a door prize for completing the class but sure enough she asked whether we wanted rat- or hand grenade-shaped dark chocolate lollipops. I grabbed my hard core punk treat and headed for the door.

Healthworks Cambridge offers Punk Rope with Teanna B. Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.

-Kate

What is your favorite “Lose your self” class?

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