I’ve heard it for years: Exercise is important. I get it, or more appropriately, I thought I got it. However, no matter when I was motivated or how motivated I was, I just couldn’t find the energy to stick to a regular routine. Then one day things changed.
I was having coffee with a girl friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while, even though we’re quite close and live nearby to each other. One of her in-laws was going through a tough time with both physical and mental illness, and has since been doing exceptionally well and looks fantastic. This particular in-law had decided to make a lifestyle change and prioritize exercise, and the results went beyond looking good standing in front of a mirror.
Then we got talking more along that subject, and I learned that my friend had been invited by one of her friends to tag along to a kickboxing class, and subsequently, I was now invited. I thought, ‘Me??? A middle-aged woman who has not exercised regularly in years (maybe decades)?’ But I figured I would give it a shot, especially since I would be there with friends. Turns out that day changed my life for the better!
What Kickboxing Did For Me
To this day I still attend regular kickboxing classes. However, when I first attended, I was shy and intimidated. I mean, kickboxing? Seems like a tough sport (and it is!). When my friends and I first arrived at the gym, we were shocked to notice how clean it was, almost like a dance studio, the kind instructors, and many other classmates that were our age and level of fitness! This made it easy right off the bat.
After the first session I was exhausted. I didn’t know how I was going to do it again. But my instructor was so encouraging that she was able to throw enough positive energy my way to keep me coming back. Each session became easier and easier, even though we were progressing in our workouts.
After a couple weeks, I suddenly noticed something was different. I was happier, more energetic, and was getting great sleeps! I had already lost a couple pounds, and boy was I hungry! I was originally worried about eating too much, but by making sure I was eating healthy food, I had already made a complete lifestyle change. I was, and still am, in better shape, happy, and confident, and this has empowered me to take control of my life.
Now, while I may not look like a tough kickboxer, I’m one of the regulars at the gym and have started to take almost a leadership role. I would have NEVER done this before. I’m outgoing, up for more activities with my kids and family members, and I feel like I can be a role model for many girls who don’t feel great about themselves.
So is kickboxing for anyone? It can be! One of the best things about it is it’s cheap. You don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. Gym membership fees were decent as well, and perhaps more importantly, they were flexible depending on how often you go. If you really want to get involved, you can even buy equipment for your own home, like heavy bags or speed bags, but this is tough to do for most people.
Now that I have adopted a more active lifestyle, I have begun supplementing it with running. Again, another cheap and widely available option – you just need shoes and somewhere to run! With kids, I can’t make every kickboxing class that I would like, and sometimes I just need some space. This is why running suites me. If I have 20-30 minutes, I can throw on my runners and some old gym clothes and go for a nice jog.
While kickboxing and running are both great workouts, I find running to be a little more relaxing. I don’t go at a fast pace – I just take my time and raise my heart rate a bit, but being outside, maybe with some music on, and getting the blood flowing in an active, yet relaxing manner, has certainly done wonders for me. It’s a great night cap after a stressful day when I couldn’t make it to kickboxing!
Different things make different people happy. For some, it’s crafting, or reading, or an infinite number of options. For me, I found that being active, challenging my mind and body to complete tasks, and benefiting from that both physically and mentally has been a life changer for me, so I would always recommend an active lifestyle!