When 2017 became 2018, a few changes were taking place in my life. To start, I was getting ready to move into my first “big girl” apartment all by myself. Besides the fact that I was getting my own place and moving out, I was moving to a different state (making the heartbreaking switch from Long Island Princess to Jersey Girl) and had an entirely different neighborhood to call my own and learn, without the help of my parents or friends. It was terrifying and exciting.
With the move, I decided that one of my new year’s resolutions would be to find a gym in this new city that I genuinely enjoy going to, make an effort to stick it out and become a regular. I know, cliché, but my health is important to me and part of that includes staying strong and feeling good about my body. I also never believed my Mom when she’d tell me, “It’s going to be different when you’re older! You play softball every day now! Your metabolism can keep up, but that will probably change!” Boy, was she right.
I’ve always loved kickboxing in the one-off classes I had attended in the past or from messing around on the bag in my old basement, so I hopped on Groupon and found a three-day pass and gloves deal for CKO Kickboxing in Jersey City. I’ve been hooked ever since.
These classes are intense, but not impossible. The Jersey City coaches are incredibly supportive and helpful, both physically and mentally. I leave feeling accomplished and sweating my ass off. I’m also feeling more and more comfortable with and confident in my own abilities to protect myself, should I find myself in a dangerous situation. I love feeling strong. Overall, attending classes has become one of the favorite parts of my week, coming from one of America’s Top 10 Laziest People Ever When It Comes to Fitness™. I’ve also learned a few things along the way.
1. Don’t feel discouraged if there are those who are better than you at something. Use other people’s strengths and accomplishments as motivation, not a reason to shut down and give up.
At CKO, everyone has their own bag to work on. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t see how the person directly next to and across from you are doing. Sometimes, you’re surrounded by kickboxing superstars who have clearly been doing this for years; meanwhile, you nearly fell over trying to execute a simple roundhouse kick. While it may be easier to say, “So-and-so is better at this than I am, so I shouldn’t try at all,” using their talents as your own fuel is the better option. Instead say, “I can get better and improve; this person is proof.” If you want to take it one step further, ask them for advice! Most people are willing to share their expertise and ideas. And remember: everyone moves at their own pace. What took someone else a day to master may take you a week.
2. Life throws a lot of sh*t at you, but struggling helps us improve as human beings. Fall down, take the time to understand why you fell, get back up, continue.
It sucks. Things happen in life that are completely out of our control. For someone like me who has an anxiety attack every time she isn’t in control, this is still a lesson I need to remind myself of day in and day out. At CKO, you’ll mess up a lot in the beginning. You’ll trip over your own two feet. You won’t be able to finish the combination from fatigue. Your face will turn as red as a tomato while the girl next to you looks like a professional, barely breaking a sweat. You think it’s easier to avoid the situation altogether, but that’s not the case. It’s easy to say, “I probably won’t be good at this, I’ll fail, so I’m not going to try.” In life, we avoid confrontation, challenges, etc. for this very reason. And when we do come across these moments, we freak out and ask, “Why me?” Because we are not always in control, understand that everything in life is a lesson. That lesson could range from, “I’m not going to be good at everything I do,” to, “Despite being sick, I am taking care of myself and I am strong.” We can’t always comprehend why things happen to us, but we can add it to the list of things that helped shape us into the people we are today.
3. You are stronger than you think.
I’ve never considered myself “strong.” I’m five feet tall and people typically glance right over my head. As weeks pass and I attend more classes at CKO, I feel myself both physically and mentally growing stronger. There were weeks I had to take off – traveling for a conference and being in the hospital – but I jumped right back in like I never left afterward. There’s something electrifying about throwing a punch and seeing the bag in front of you move just a little farther than it had the class before. At the same time, there’s no greater stress relief than an hour-long session of kicking the sh*t out of a bag. The big takeaway here: no matter your size, or how hard you can punch, or how mentally drained you are from a tough week, you are stronger, both physically and mentally, than you think. Sometimes, it just takes an outlet like kickboxing to prove it to yourself.