This week, I moved into my new apartment in Inner Sunset.  So far, I’ve already tried soul food at Farmerbrown, which boasts live music and bottomless mimosas for Sunday brunch.  I’ve enjoyed Ike’s incredibly delectable sandwiches while chilling in Mission Dolores park. And I’ve tasted the Peach Ginger ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.  Not to mention the many times I’ve dropped in at La Boulange in Cole Valley which is right next to my best friend’s apartment.  This is going to be a good year, I can tell.

The only misfortune has been my Ikea delivery, which was supposed to come on Monday, but somehow became a weeklong delay as I waited for them to deliver the last item — my mattress.  So for the past three nights, I have been sleeping on the floor with a sleeping bag.

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Last night, my friend, Vicky, goaded me into trying a free lesson at Quantum Martial Arts.  It’s a small dojo nestled in the Mission district.  Normally, karate is not my thing, but in the spirit of “new home, new experiences,” I decided to take a chance.  Besides, I asked her, it’s not going to be too hard, right?

Oh no, it’s a yoga/martial arts thing, she says.  Throwing the “yoga” in there to entice me.  She adds, and maybe some calisthenics.

What???  You mean push-ups?  I haven’t worked out for half a year.  And even then, the last time I did push-ups was in high school.  I maxed out at 7.

Don’t worry.  You’ll be fine.  Be sure to drink a lot of water.

It better not be like a boot camp.  It’s not, right?


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We arrive at Quantum at 7:30, greeted by a friendly rottweiler and Master Rachel Evans who owns and teaches at the dojo.  She looks like–and I am not joking here–Sarah Connor from Terminator 2.  If she busted out in leather pants and a tank top, with a rifle strapped to her back, and proceeded to do upside down pull-ups, I would not even be surprised.  Because, holy crap, this woman’s got muscles.  I have no doubt that she can — if she fancied to do so–knock both of us out in ten seconds flat.

But despite appearances, Master Evans is incredibly friendly and enthusiastic about what she loves and does best.  She begins to explain the structure of the class; the first hour is “warm-up” which would be a mixture of yoga and heavy push-ups and crunches.  It’s not only important to practice martial arts techniques, but to really strengthen your core strength and engage your spirit.  This might be one of the hardest things that you will have to do, she warns.  I will yell at you, she says, looking straight into my face.  “It will be like boot camp.”

At this point, I could not wait for Master Evans to turn around so that I could shoot glares at Vicky.

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We are led to our mats where she hands us some plastic blocks.  You may need to use them as support when we stretch, quickly demonstrating some sort of wide leg split.  I turn to Vicky with a look of alarm that said, “I’m supposed to do what?!”  Master Evans notices my terror, because she laughs and reassures me that our bodies are designed to do this.  I am somewhat comforted.

But that comfort didn’t last long.  After the initial yoga portion, which Vicky and I were semi-able to do, we completely lost our cool.  First, we did crunches in sets of 30 with our legs held up in the air.  Master Evans kept count with piercing yells that would have scared me more if I weren’t too distracted by the burning pain in my abdomen.  After the third set, I thought with relief that we must’ve been done, but I was wrong.  We went straight into another set, and to my dismay, she goes right past count 30.  40.  50.  Omg, this woman’s really going for a hundred.  60.  70.  I really want to fry that sausage sitting in my fridge right now.   80.  90.  100.

I don’t even have time to breathe before we turn to the push-ups.  Which were not only impossible, for me, but super embarrassing.  Why make push-ups even more painful than they already are?  I think I completed five normal ones, before I tried one where I start with both my elbows sitting on the ground and try to push up with my clasped hands.  I push as hard as I can, I make straining sounds, my body shakes with exertion; it was not happening.  And it did not happen.

Thankfully, the rest of the lesson was much more enjoyable.  When I was younger, I used to watch my brother take his Tae Kwon Do lessons and think to myself that I could do that, easy.  But actually learning the moves, adjusting the angles of my stance, and balancing myself after a kick, were much more difficult than I had anticipated.  Overall, the experience, though physically painful, was awesome.  I really appreciated Master Evan’s energy and obvious love for the art.  I left with a newfound respect for karate, and a really sore body the next morning.

Quantum may not be for me, but I would recommend it to anyone who have thought about martial arts and wanted to test the waters out before committing.  Or, if you want a really good work out.  The first month is free.

Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake from Diana’s Recipes.