Let’s Talk with Tina Whittle

Beyond the Comfort Zone
By Tina Whittle

Tina with azaleasWrite what you know, they say. Unfortunately, “what I know” is pretty boring stuff. So I make it a point to expose myself to new and interesting things. I’ve attended the Writer’s Police Academy on multiple occasions, shooting up bad guys in the firearms simulation room and clearing rooms on mock SWAT raids. I’ve attended workshops on cemetery symbolism and ghost hunting, knife attacks and archeological best practices. I’ve put a Ferrari through its paces on an agility course and attended Confederate reenactments.

And now I’ve taken up boxing.

I’ll admit, my initial interest was research-based. My series protagonists are both fighters—Trey is a former cop trained in Krav Maga and Tai is a combative redneck trained in various brawls—and it’s nice to get into their heads and enjoy the visceral pleasure of beating things up (even if my opponent is a heavy weight bag and not a villain). But I am discovering that I also enjoy boxing. I like the physical challenge, the sweat and exertion that comes from testing my perceived limits.

My enthusiasm for the sport proved contagious. After listening to my praise, our local Sisters in Crime chapter—Low Country Sisters in Crime­—will be attending a gloves-on workshop with Martin Cornejo, my boxing instructor. Martin is an exceptional boxer, a two-time national champion in his native Peru. He is also an exceptional coach, with several students who have gone on to Golden Gloves championships.

Martin’s approach is very painstaking—he is a believer in details. Before any of his students put on a glove, he showed us how wrap our hands correctly. During class, we typically practice some non-contact sparring and defensive techniques. He demonstrates proper stance and technique, including both blocks and punches, and then put us through speed drills and freestyle sessions at the bag.

It was a new experience for me, but now I find that I crave that adrenaline rush and the good exhaustion that comes after a great workout. What about you? What experiences have taken you out of your comfort zone?