I’ve never been fat, but I’ve never been one of those annoying people who can gorge themselves and never gain weight, either. My body is work, and since I’ve known about “body image” it’s been a challenge to keep it in some kind of shape that isn’t a pear or beach ball. As age does its thing, I’ve found that maintaining a figure has been even more of a process than when I was a svelte athlete in high school. Add rising age to a job spent mostly at the computer, and you get an expanding and softer waistline, cellulite (hate that stuff) and a loss of energy.
I heard about the Cross Martial Arts Academy from my chiropractor, who asked if I wanted to join her for a private lesson one day. I thought, “Hey, why not? I like hitting things,” and decided to go along. When I got to the class for the private lesson, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had been doing some Pilates with a friend, so I had been “working out”, but was shocked by how strenuous kickboxing was. In minutes I was winded and my body was screaming at me to just lie down! But my competitive streak wouldn’t allow any quitting. By the end of the class, I had to run to the bathroom to be near the toilet, thinking I may throw up. I’d run sprints and distance in high school, but nothing had ever made me so tired, feel so winded, and worked me so hard like that first one hour long kickboxing class.
There are two possible reactions to this kind of exercise regime experience. One: Geez Louise that was hard. I felt like I may have freaking died! I’m never doing that AGAIN! Two: Geez Louise that was hard! I felt like I may have freaking died! Imagine how awesome I would feel after doing that ALL THE TIME!
Obviously since I’m writing about kickboxing, I chose door number two. I joined up with Cross Martial Arts kickboxing in February of 2011, with the ultimate goal of looking better than I ever have before.
When I first started kickboxing, there were days I had difficulty going down the stairs (my legs burned), driving (my arms were so weak), and found myself in bed, staring up at the ceiling, wondering why I needed to get out of bed (I was pooped). I only went to class every other day, allowing my body a little break so it could rest and repair. But after about six weeks, I started going every day. I became addicted to how good I felt, how much stress I relieved, and even though I always left class marinating in my own sweat, I was and am still, happy. It’s an incredibly intense workout, but knowing I can make it through it and become steadily stronger is a great feeling that I’m still chasing.
Confidence comes from different places, but always leads to the same destination: feeling good about who you are. I was a confident person prior to starting kickboxing, but building my physical strength has helped build my inner strength as well. I know I can take care of myself should I ever need to, and feel almost obligated to wear tank tops and shorts (on warm days), to broadcast a warning: check out my muscles–I’m strong–don’t mess with me. I’ve always wanted to be physically strong, and I’m so proud that I’ve finally made it. The results are defined and clear, and I love knowing “I can do that” when encountering a physical challenge.
Give it a Try
Most things worth doing and knowing are hard to start, and it takes practice, practice, practice to become good. But once you push past a challenge, you come out the other side a stronger person, and when it comes to kickboxing, you will be stronger both mentally and physically. Kickboxing is something I’ll keep in my life–it makes me strong. And I bet it will make you strong, too.