Kickboxing "Can't" to the Curb

Hey world,

If you've been following my blog from the beginning, you might remember that back in March, I challenged myself to start going to the gym regularly and to begin kickboxing as part of my effort to begin living intentionally. 

My days at the gym were short-lived, (mainly because I don't like the aesthetic/vibe of gyms and gym culture) but for a couple weeks I was a diligent patron: cycling, rowing, walking elliptically (whatever that does), climbing staircases.  

In April, I started kickboxing, and though it was akin to a swift kick in the pants, I immediately loved it. I was lucky enough to find a place that felt right, with an instructor that had equal parts tough-funny-motivating, and a supporting cast of KB buddies on my first attempt. Had all of these things not come together perfectly, I'm not sure if I would love kickboxing as much as I do.

This guy never gets in on the action;
just watches to make sure I don't stop before the timer goes off!

Moreover, kickboxing brought Empowerment back to the table, and forced me to come back face-to-face with my old friends Discipline and Reflection. There's something utterly badass about carrying your boxing gloves around New York City 4-5 days a week and have people look at you and think "That girl? She's a fighter." There's something even more badass in knowing how to perfectly wrap your hands so you don't get calluses, doing non-stop crunches without your back touching the mat, doing staggered push-ups for a minute without having to go to modified, and getting to the end of a rep and thinking "That's it? Let's do it again."

I've got a mean left hook and an even meaner right cross. I'm pretty sure I've got a femur-breaking roundhouse kick. I never leave my face unprotected. My daily goals are precision and endurance, with power coming as a close third.

But the other thing I love is that there's something deeper than happiness that resonates after 50 minutes of punching and kicking the stuffing out of the bags, and looking over your shoulder at 'your powerful self in the mirror' as you begin to warm down and stretch out.

Its in these fleeting moments of direct eye contact that I see a person in myself that I never knew I would find. Someone who leaves the house with no makeup on, who owns her sweatiness, who has pushed her body past its previous limits, who doesn't take "I don't know how" or "I can't do that" for an answer.

I only have two more classes left to take here in NYC before I have to continue on my own,  but I know that even after my leave my favorite East Village MMA studio, instructor and sweat-BFFs, my life in gloves won't come to an end.

My first day with my gloves -- World, beware!

Like I said in that earlier post, I used to never exercise. My history of fitness is a lifelong series of quit attempts: gymnastics, baseball, basketball, soccer, dance, golf, yoga. I was the girl who was always picked at the end for teams in gym class, who was afraid of the ball, who would rather say "I can't" than "I'll try". Part of it was my fault, and part of it was a string of coaches who were driven by wins and competition than skill-building and praise for effort.

I never tried to stink at sports. Growing up abroad I learned how to play all of these games that no one hear knew about (rounders, roller hockey, netball) and preferred to ride my bike or rollerblade or swim for hours than go run around a field indefinitely chasing a ball I'd only kick/hit once in awhile. When I moved into the American school system, first abroad and then here in the US, I realized quickly that I had apparently already missed all of the years where it was about learning and training -- 6th grade was already too late to join the volleyball team or soccer or basketball (though I tried) because at 13 I was somehow already at the level of hopeless.

Between the mantra of my hopelessness becoming abundantly clear and my stupid asthma, I quickly became a sponge to the voices that told me I couldn't. Even worse, I started beating the mantra to the punch. Who wants to be embarrassed when they go up to bat and miss the softball by a mile AND a minute? No, it was better to walk up and scoff at my own inability and give it a half-hearted attempt before taking my place at the back of the line again.

Can't. Can't. Can't.
I just can't. 

Things changed a little when my dad and I started climbing mountains together in 2010, but I when asked about it, I would always be demur: "Well, it's really just like walking. Anyone can do that".  Even though I could (with Fuji, Kinabalu and Kilimanjaro under my belt), I still believed in the almighty Can't.

My Can't days lasted an impressive 23 years and 10 months.
My can days? 3.5 months and counting.

What would my Can't self say now? In just three short months, I can do back-to-back hourlong workouts. I can run a 5K with 9 days warning. I have started planning my travels to places where I can climb mountains/hike for pleasure.

I can because I started listening to and believing in the only voice that matters: my own. 

When you find your voice and isolate it, you'll find your fitness niche too.


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