It was my first week in Tampa, and I was driving our little area known as Westchase. I saw the sign as if was the only lighted sign on a darkened country road. It said “Punch” and I think I knew right then and there that somehow I was going to be going part of it.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I had checked it out on the internet and found out that it was a combination boxing gym and group fitness facility. The boxing facility aspect seemed cool. I always wanted to learn how to do those speed bags. Beating the shit out of some bag seemed a positive way to deal up with some pent up frustration. Then again, group training had its downfalls. I hate being the fat person in class and I suck at jump rope and push-ups and ab work.
So instead of just dropping it, I told my life coach about my interest in the program, and of course, he challenged me to check it out. So there I was, walking into this gym and I met Martin. Martin assured me that I could do push-ups on the ring, that there was no real jump rope, and everybody sucks at abs. Martin, by the way, is 5’ 10’’ and a rock. I would later find out that he is amateur MMA fighter at the 185 level, who hopes to be pro in the next year. He also sports a bright red faux hawk on top of his tightly cropped black hair. Three weeks later, I had signed my yearly contract and I was training, so to speak.
This isn’t your typical cardio boxing class. You are actually issued hand wraps and boxing gloves when you sign up. Classes consist of cardio warm-ups, core work and 10, 3 minute rounds of boxing / workouts. Each round is usually punching the bags till your arms want to fall off, mixed with some sort of strength or cardio. Martin then walks around and has different people take turns punching the crap out of him while he dons a body suit. His cohort, Anre (Andre without the” d”) , wears mitts and has people take turns sparring.
I make time to visit Punch at least 2 to 3 times a week. It has been one of the better risks that I have taken in a long while. For the majority of an hour, I feel like a bad ass. I don’t care that I am usually the most out-of- shape person. I don’t care that I still would suck in a fist fight. I am taking out my frustrations in a way that’s not hurting others and in turn helping me.
Boxing classes are usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which means that most Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am heading into the city to visit my co-working space. One given Thursday, I had the pleasure of dining with Jodi (aka @TampaWineWoman). Jodi suggested we try Boca, one of those fresh, locally sourced places that seem to open every other week. Believe it or not, there aren’t 800 of them in Tampa, so I was happy to oblige.
I was super excited about Boca because they have a menu item called “Staff Meal” and the description is “Just Order It” If you know me, that is how I choose to dine; however, I was instead, wooed by the Montreal Sandwich (house smoke corned beef, mustard, pickles). I, of course, ordered the dish without the bread, and instead of fries, I tried the braised swiss chard. Just when you think, “wow, you are one committed dude!”, you need to know that I caved and shared the boca-ditos appetizer with Jodi, which are selections of bread topped with jams, cheeses and fruits. I did order the blistered shishito peppers as the other appetizer, and those were awesome and healthy. Then, I might have finished with pecan pie ala mode.
PEOPLE- THIS IS WHY I STOPPED EATING OUT AS MUCH. I LIKE TO INDULGE WHEN I AM SPENDING MONEY!
All the dishes I had at Boca were really good. The peppers were light and fresh. The boca-ditos showed nice contrast amongst the different options. The corned beef was perfect. The meat was tender, well seasoned, and had a perfect amount of fat cap on it. The harsh mustard was muted perfectly by the rich, flavorful meat. The greens might have been the best cooked veggies I’ve had since moving to Florida. I didn’t love the pecan pie crust, as it was tough and chewy; however, the inside was awesome and the bourbon, caramel topping on the ice cream was even more awesome. Too bad the insulin spike caused me to crash that afternoon.
I didn’t pay too much attention to the atmosphere at Boca; however, it seemed nice enough. The service was a little spotty in that I think we had a hard time getting on the same page with the server. I’ll chalk It up to being 2 PM and we were two foodies trying to have a long, drawn out lunch. That minor glitch aside, I’ll being going back to Boca, hopefully with the wife and kids in tow.
Guess it’s time to hit the bags to atone for my sins!