” Jab. Cross. Hook…Left roundhouse. At the sound of the bell, GOOOO!”
I didn’t have any energy left, but I glanced at the photo I’d taped onto the bag and found myself pulling my arm back to take another swing at my target.
This was not the way I thought I’d spend Valentine’s Day.
In an effort to both jumpstart my fitness regiment and get past some personal relationship hurdles, I decided to take on the “Shred Your Ex” challenge at I Love Kickboxing. Valentine’s Day was a big empty hole on my schedule and in my experience, nothing beats the blues better than a really killer workout.
I had no idea what I was walking into.
Trainer and Chelsea studio co-manager Kyndra Clawson, walked me through the initial process for newbies. Clawson urges new members to arrive thirty minutes before class to make time for this introductory interview.
“It’s crucial for us to understand what your fitness and health goals are. We want to hear your story: what are your wins? what challenges you? what motivates you? This is about more than just coming in and working out and leaving. We’re in this with you.”, says Clawson.
As a personal trainer, I appreciated this step. Taking the time to get to know your clients on an individual level is not only responsible, but it helps garner trust. For someone who’s starting out on their fitness journey, it’s important to feel understood and welcome. Already I felt comfortable putting myself at the mercy of these instructors for what I was told would be a brutal workout.
And brutal it was. Feeling like I’d hit a bit of a plateau in my fitness goals this year, I was humbled pretty quickly with just the warmup. I was almost ready to call it quits after about the third round of burpees into squat jumps. But the music (incredibly fun soundtrack by the way!) and energy of the room kept me moving as I worked up some serious sweat five minutes into the class.
We all taped images of ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, and ex-bosses to our punching bags before class. The “Shred Your Ex” angle was a fun take and I admit, it hooked me from the jump. But even if you’re not aiming for the face of a cheating ex or horrible boss, we all have some kind of blocker that we literally want to punch out of our way.
For me it was more about getting past some of the feelings of overwhelm and emotional exhaustion that came out of a number of stressful situations in my life, relationships included. Having a visual reminder of that obstacle taped to my bag was a great way to channel that nervous energy into something powerful.
Facing that mental ‘bully’ with the cumulative energy of a room of people doing exactly the same thing?? Pure awesomeness.
Clawson put us to work on our bags with a series of punches and kicks that not only tested endurance and skill, but the will to keep pushing forward even when we wanted to quit. Which I did. A lot.
It was a vivid reminder of what I’d gone through in the first leg of my health journey years ago. I don’t count my heaviest deadlift or fastest run as my biggest accomplishments. For me it’s always been those moments when I told myself I couldn’t do it and then put my all into taking that one step that proved I could get it done. This could be as simple as getting dressed and going to the gym. Throwing away the bag of cookies. Doing one more pushup. Changing a negative thought to a positive one.
All of those little moments add up to huge wins in the end. They’re markers for growth. I’d forgotten what that felt like, until I was standing in front of the bag with my “bully” literally on the ground because I kept punching until the tape couldn’t hold up the photo anymore. I was exhausted and my arms and legs felt like jelly. I could barely get the coordination down with the next drill. But it didn’t matter. I felt like I was on fire when the class was over.
I walked up to Clawson after we took our team photo and gave her a high five. Her enthusiasm throughout the class was infectious and supportive. I could see why so many people become diehard fans of I Love Kickboxing. And honestly, I’m right there with them.
With studios all over the US, you can get your kickboxing fix pretty much anywhere, provided you’re ready for the challenge! For more information about classes in your area, be sure to check out I Love Kickboxing’s website and their Facebook page.
Have you ever tried kickboxing? How do you move past mental blockers? Share your comments with me below- I’d love to hear your thoughts!