Hit Like A Girl: Why Women Should Kickbox

“Jab! Cross!”

Sweat is pouring off my face, down my chest, dripping onto the floor.

“Jab! Cross!”

My gloves pound into my partner’s hand mitts as the instructor barks out combos. One, two. One, two. On and on we go, a rhythmic battle that ends with me bent over, hands on my knees, drinking in oxygen. Round one goes to me.

We move on: hooks, uppercuts, knee strikes, roundhouse kicks, spinning elbows. Moves that make you a force to be reckoned with in a dark alley. And that’s the way I like it.

I started taking Muay Thai kickboxing classes 3 years ago. I’ve tried every kind of workout, starting with step aerobics as a teenager, segueing into Spinning, cardio pilates, jogging, yoga. You name it, I’ve done it. It started primarily as a way to keep fitting in the same size jeans, but soon became much more. Fitness is something that heals me, that frees me from stress and anxiety. It’s something both my mind and my body cannot do without.

However, as a news correspondent, it was hell trying to fit in classes with a career that had me on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In between scrambling to make a last minute plane flight and going without sleep for days on breaking news, I decided to take my workouts with me. I did several Beachbody programs, including p90x and Insanity. Then I tried Combat, and something clicked. It was no longer about burning calories or the number on the scale. It released my inner warrior, a tough chick who’d been dying to come out and play.

That led to my first Muay Thai kickboxing class, a brutal initiation into the discipline that has changed my life. 60 minutes after I stepped into the dojo, I was winded, wet with sweat..but giddy. Throwing my first real punches, kicking harder than I ever had, this was more than a just a workout. This was the gateway to true personal power.

Women aren’t really taught to throw a punch. Sure we play team sports and work out, but how often are we called upon to use our bodies to defend ourselves? To land blows that make the heavy bag bounce? To kick so hard, the sound reverberates against the walls of the dojo?

My love for the sport lead me to begin teaching. Never in a million years did I imagine myself working as a fitness instructor. Yet, I live for it. I love pushing my women to work harder, dig deeper and tap into a power and muscles they didn’t know they had. I’m equal parts cheerleader and drill sergeant, urging just a few more punches, a couple more kicks.

In the eight months that I’ve been teaching Muay Thai, nothing gives me greater joy than to see a woman come into the gym for the first time and find herself surrounded by fellow female fighters. Women who go deep within to find the strength and stamina and sheer spirit to do battle. Kickboxing changes you. You stand taller. You walk with more confidence. You feel powerful, both in the dojo and in real life. You know that no matter how bad a day you had: the traffic, the difficult boss…you’re just a few punches away from letting it all go and letting yourself back into your true zone of power.

Kickboxing also has a deeper meaning for me. I went through a brief depression earlier this year after several tough events happened at the same time. It was hard for me to get up and get dressed, let alone get anything done. The only thing that got me out of bed was teaching my kickboxing classes. Knowing that my students were showing up for me, counting on me to push them to their limits and just a little bit further. I couldn’t let them down. And so each morning, I got up, put on my gym clothes, and I showed up.

For me, Muay Thai is more than just a workout. It’s a sisterhood in our gym. It’s women working together, urging their partners to hit harder, kick higher, keep going, you can do it, come on. It’s a sport where your power has nothing to do with your size or your weight or the way you look in a bikini (although you WILL look better in bikini, trust me). It’s a workout that shapes your mind and your spirit, one that trains your body to be a weapon to be reckoned with.

You learn that your body is beautiful, not because of what it looks like but what it can DO. That’s a wisdom no one can take from you because it comes from deep inside. You’ve got to earn it.

So take a chance today and change it up. Find a kickboxing gym near you, get those gloves on and start punching. I promise you’ll feel like a million dollar baby, one truly powerful woman.

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