Discovering life beyond the barbell / by Dana McMahan

Dana tackles the world (or at least Louisville)

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While I’ve been on mandatory rest after surgery I’ve done something I rarely had time to before — watched television. Most of it’s crap  but every day this week I’ve watched a show called  Dhani Tackles the Globe. It follows a pro athlete (a big, strong, strapping football player) who travels the world, learning a local sport in each destination. This week I’ve seen some kind of boat racing in Singapore (first day post-surgery I wasn’t paying a lot of attention). Then there was boxing in Cambodia, beach volleyball and capoeira in Brazil, and strongman in Iceland. First, I want to go to all these places. But second, I LOVE this idea. It’s just a way higher budget version of my plan to try a new sport every month for the next year.  If I can connive and luck my way into trying some sports in other lands, all the better (I did try Muay Thai in Bangkok once — one of my favorite adventures ever!).

But even if I can’t jaunt around the world as a pint-size  female version of Dhani, I can have some adventures in my own town.  The greatest gift powerlifting gave me, besides showing me how strong I could be, was waking me up to the fact that I’m an athlete, even if I didn’t know it the first 36 years of my life. So as soon as I’m able, in addition to returning to (a new version of) strength training, I’m going to try my hand at some new sports. Here are some I’m looking into.  I’d love suggestions for more, and if you know anyone who might be interested in teaching me for a month any of these sports, please let me know!

Archery: My physical therapist, and Olympic shooter, thinks I’d be well-suited for archery. And if aim counts, I was freakishly good at cornhole the first (only) time I ever played it.

Boxing: The only sport I was ever interested in (and that only on-screen), I have always been inspired by the Rocky movies, and would love, love, love to learn to box. There are a number of places in town, but the one I’m most interested in, Baxter Memorial, may or may not still be open — I need to check. It seemed, last time I looked, like the real, old-school kind of place the Italian Stallion would have trained in.

Capoiera: A friend on Facebook recommended this and I was immediately intrigued because I’d never heard of it. A gym in town has offered classes and it sounds fascinating, with origins in central African martial arts knowledge brought to Brazil, it seems like a cross between dance and martial arts, and was said to be the power base for Brazilian gangs before it was made illegal (and later brought back as sport).

Fencing: It just seems dramatic and old-fashioned (duels take place in my beloved historical novels) and it would be cool to learn how to brandish a sword.

Krav Maga: Again with the obscure sports. “The official hand-to-hand combat system of the Israeli Defense Force” is taught locally and I like that I’d actually learn to defend myself by studying this street-fight style of self defense.

Muay Thai: I loved my lesson in Bangkok, and there’s a fight club/gym in town recommended by a friend that I can’t wait to check out. I have no intention or desire to fight — I just want to train like a fighter!

So there’s a half dozen. I need six more and am thinking of rock climbing and mountain biking, but it’ll be hard to do anything that requires buying expensive equipment so I’ll be on the lookout for renting/borrowing whatever I’ll need. I’d also like to do one or two water sports. Let’s hear what you’ve got! How should I tackle the world?

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5 responses

  1. I have a friend who does Capoiera, and loves it.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

  2. Gymnastics and diving look like fun.

    Also, I’ve always thought rowing (for real rowing, on the water) looked like a blast. My cousin just joined the crew team at her college and she LOVES it.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

  3. kt

    As a 30-year-old woman who is only slightly larger than you, might have herniated a disk in January, and has been similarly changed by powerlifiting… I suggest biathlon! I did my first novice biathlon race today — skied around, shot a borrowed gun, hit most of my targets. Sure, that’s not something you can do in the state where you live, but it could be a fun trip next winter to a relatively inexpensive northern state. Minnesota and Wisconsin usually have snow in winter, are cheap, and have plenty of charming places that allow you to rent skis/snowshoes/etc. or try something crazy like biathlon with little investment.

    You could try something like rowing or kayaking as well.

    February 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

  4. I wanted to let you know that if you have an REI near you, that might be the perfect answer. It’s $25/year to be a member. You can buy anything you want to try (rock climbing gear, bike, whatever) and you can bring it back at ANY time for ANY reason, no questions asked. I wore my snowshoes for a YEAR and didn’t like the straps, so they took them back. There are no hidden strings. And you even get dividends! I got $75 for this past year not to mention a new pair of snowshoes for free…. might be perfect for you while you are trying things out.

    March 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    • That’s a great idea! The closest one is a couple hours away, too bad :(

      March 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

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