This article marks my seventh year writing my column for the Peninsula Clarion, so it needed to be unique. A couple weeks ago I joined Ak-49 Martial Arts affiliated with the Bang Muay Thai system to give me something to write about. Probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done for an article, but here you go.
You get to know the people around you and the mixed martial arts groupies were my small business neighbors at the Peninsula Center Mall. I’d watch them practice and it made me miss working out. A lot. The charismatic owner invited me, so per his advice I grabbed a partner in crime and we joined. Even now I’m not sure what possessed me to ever walk into a place with brawny male 20-somethings with the metabolisms of a blazing furnace, when I’m pushing my mid-30’s and literally relying on more supplements than I’d like to admit. Yet here I am. Participating in my deepest shame.
I go one of two ways when trying something new: embarrassingly awkward or guns blazing. I’m either avoiding eye contact by looking at the ground or staring into your soul because I want to eat it. It’s hard being this way, because it forces balance. I never want intensity or passion to be misunderstood as over-confidence or ego. Laying a solid foundation takes time, but as a beginner my ambition sometimes induces frustration. I have to practice maturity by being patient with myself. Lame.
My mentality before walking into the first couple classes is that I want to die. I’m so nervous that I’m shaking on the inside praying it’s not showing on the outside, but naturally the harder I try to be cool, the weirder it gets. Wonderful. I have to repeat in my head why I’m there. For me slaying the mental aspect is essential. I’m here to write this article, impress my doctor, ignore the January blues, and being an 80’s baby there’s something so retro and authentic about boxing. I’d love to have that skill. Usually I’m a lover not a fighter, however competitively, I have two NFL-sized big brothers, so the little sister part of me is always singing, “Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.”
I had no interest in progress at first, just showing up and trying to retain at least half of what’s happening. Like any good fitness regimen, they switch it up when you think you’ve learned something, but eventually go back to sharpening that skill. It challenges you to become better and it eventually becomes addicting. Gym addicts usually annoy me. They’re too happy. Eating tacos makes me happy. Now they both make me happy. It’s working!
After showing up for a few weeks the class feels natural, comfortable, and fun. Having a beginner friend to hold my hand was great advice as we got to fall in love with kickboxing together. Isn’t that precious? We look (and feel) like a couple of cool kids in our boxing gloves. The guys in there are respectful, hard working, and pretty adorable when they’re not trying to punch me in the liver. Coach Seth is extremely encouraging and truly a leader. When you try new things and step out of your comfort zone it’s key to have that one trainer, teacher, professor, or good friend with sage wisdom to motivate or inspire you. They are the bass line to your new song.
Here’s the thing: Try new things. Dare yourself to be bold and want it. It’s in my experience when you believe any of your abilities are God given, it gives you permission to use them to their fullest potential. If you can stop being hard on yourself long enough to let go of expectations and judgments, then maybe there is room to be vulnerable. If you are brave enough to face that raw moment what you find might surprise you. Understanding how to accept who you are and pushing that wall of what we’re capable of is how we grow. It’s our responsibility to find what we love. Our reward is having a great passion that motivates you to hunger for more. Our reward is that it spills out onto others and they feel it too and maybe that will help them grow as well. It’s ok if you haven’t felt that in a while. I had to cultivate it by making the choice to step outside my comfort zone in a drastic way. Now I feel at home.
I’d like to thank Coach Seth and the guys at Ak-49 Martial Arts for putting up with me. Your patience and willingness to help others makes you guys a class act. You are all one of a kind and you lack nothing. Osu!
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.