How Boxing Changed my Relationship to Exercise
I always had an on-again-off-again relationship to exercise.
I would get into a workout routine, start to get motivated seeing the changes in my body, stamina, and strength, but then like clockwork completely ghost my regime and find myself in a slump after going hard for 5 days a week. Then after a number of weeks (or months) at zero, I’d have to hang my head and start the vicious cycle over again.
Until I found boxing.
In August of 2017, I took my first lesson with Heather “The Heat” Hardy, who you may know from her decorated boxing career (she’s 20-0) or Bellator MMA fights (she’s 2-1 there). It came about through a random article I was reading about Hardy, which mentioned that she worked as a trainer at Gleason’s Gym. I had just moved to New York City about a month earlier and found myself Googling away to find out how I could get instruction from the Heat.
Once I did my first lesson, I was hooked. The feeling of hitting the mitts and feeling my fist drive into the hard leather padding was nothing short of intoxicating. I felt alive, enthralled, and truly like I’d found my calling. There was something mysteriously magical about how I felt inside of the ring.
From there, I found myself constantly in the gym. Even when I wasn’t boxing, I was running, lifting weights, doing ab work, or yoga. Unlike all of the other times I’d attempted to get in shape, I had a goal in mind.
There was something in me that knew I was born for this, that I was meant to be a fighter.
I wanted to get into the ring itself and rise to the level of discipline, strength, and toughness that it would take to beat another girl. The thought of being able to overcome any and everything she would throw my way was nothing short of thrilling. It would mean I was stronger than my strongest demons, that I’d fought my battles and won.
This focus made the entire process of getting into decent shape easier- I had a purpose behind every step, lift, and punch. I had something driving me, that was always in the back of my mind when I wanted to quit. “If this was a fight, would you quit?” I’d ask myself as I desperately wanted to turn off the treadmill or walk away from the heavy bag.
As a result, I developed a ton of strength, both mentally and physically. I watched the pounds shed off of my frame, to reveal a much thinner, healthier version of me. I felt good- I felt fiery. I felt like me.
There was no more on-again-off-again nonsense. I stayed focused, because I had found purpose and passion. Even if the work was hard, I let my vision push me past my limits. I felt so free.
By the way, that doesn’t mean I always love exercise- in fact, most days I still dread the sweat and grind that working out demands. I just push through the pain. I endure. I choose to show up because I am not afraid of being uncomfortable- it’s leaning into discomfort. That’s where true growth happens.
Martial arts provides you with discipline and focus that bleed into every area of your life. Finding this purpose has not only allowed myself to become free of the less than healthy relationships I had to my body, physical activity, and food that I’d cultivated for 20+ years, but really become the best version of myself.
Exercise meant something to me now, because I’d connected it to who I wanted to be in the world.
How you show up to one thing is how you show up to everything.
Now, I show up with purpose. With clarity. With badass confidence. No more playing games, no more wishy, washy-ness. Only focus. Only now.