Empowerment through Kickboxing

By Layla Zomorod

I hate exercising. It’s hard. It’s boring. But most of all, it’s HARD! I’ve spent most of my life silently brooding over the existence of strenuous physical exertion, that is until I discovered kickboxing. Now, dressed in workout pants and sneakers, I welcome the profound challenge of accepting cardio in my life and  I hope my discovery may lead you to give cardio kickboxing a try as well.

In high school, I used to force myself to run around the school track. These bursts of torture had their own soundtrack, a string of curses targeting the fat that was intent on staying glued to my tummy, my thighs, my everything. With running, cardio fitness was a constant battle that always left me out of breath and eager to just get through it. I felt inadequate and out of shape. The thought of giving up was always a relief and at the forefront of my mind. Results were stagnant and my affinity for exercise endorphins dwindled. It took me a while to realize that running did not have to be the solution; that there might be some other kind of fitness regime that could be a better personal fit. That’s when cardio kickboxing came to the rescue!

I began about 6 months ago. I was intimidated at first; surveying all those athletic people, huffing and puffing ready to knock someone down, I felt pretty small. However, once I put on my gloves, I gained a sense of intention and I looked forward to being one of those huffing and puffing athletic people. Once I started, I discovered all sorts of reasons why kickboxing was better suited for me than running. The punching combinations had much more variety than I expected, the studio and head trainer were more welcoming than anticipated, and the clean space and charismatic trainer made me enjoy the class even more. I especially loved how the upbeat music got you ready to throw some punches and throw down some trouble. My gym buddy and I spend an equal time performing combinations and mixing in dance moves when the trainer turns his back. When class is over, I finish energized, instead of hating life as I did with running.

But what has become the most important outcome of my new activity is my found empowerment. Each class, as we finish our last lunge-squat-punch combination, I feel entirely capable of handling anything the world could possibly hurl at me. Exploiting this mental empowerment whilst counteracting my physical lethargy lends a mutually beneficial solution to my disdain for repetitive exercise. I truly believe kickboxing is not just for people looking for a fight or people who  want to do it professionally. It is a positive outlet for daily stresses. Even more so, as a woman, it is incredibly satisfying to feel safe on your own. Too often we walk with a quick pace past a group of men at night. Too often we hold our breath until we get to our cars and lock the doors behind us. Kickboxing training puts me a little more at ease. Knowing that if I am ever stuck in a situation where I have to fight for my life, my muscle memory will kick in and the techniques and training I’m currently learning may very well be what protects me or someone else in danger.

Fair warning: don’t mess with chicks who kickbox!

Featured image by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

Layla is a junior studying International Relations (Global Business). Born and raised in Los Angeles, she is especially gifted at parallel parking. Having grown up with immigrant parents, she understands the patience necessary to guide her German and Persian parents in the foreign art of sending emails and overcomes communication barriers with humor! She also loves cooking bomb meals and exercising creative juices. On top of that, Layla recently started practicing yoga. “Ommmmmm.” She has lived in an Asian community most of her life and has even picked up some Mandarin expressions, wishing to learn more in order to impress her friends’ parents and travel to China/Asia in the near future.