Shifting Attitudes: Women and Boxing, MMA Training

“First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer

Attitudes change. There be a time when the slave trade was considered imperative to economic prosperity, sucking on a cigarette was both glamorous and masculine, and only hippies and weirdoes recycled. We do get it wrong. Of course we get lots right too. The yin and the yang.

From an exercise perspective, beliefs and thinking changes too. We once thought that lifting weights makes you big and bulky. Nope. Lifting weights is great for developing leanness and getting toned. Getting bulky is a nutritional issue.

We once thought we need to do the aerobic or cardio thingy every day. Nope. Intense conditioning, working those lungs and heart extra hard, is taxing. Throw yoga, walking, weights, meditation or proper breathing and progressive relaxation therapy into the mix instead for variety, strength and restorative reasons.

Here’s an oldie: No pain, no gain. No one gains from pain. What’s important is to discriminate between discomfort that arises from exertion and actual pain. Generally, anything that feels stabbing or sharp or is chest-pain related is not a good sign. We need to stop. I should know. I didn’t stop and suffered a torn calf muscle because I didn’t take heed of the internal alarm. A couple of years ago, halfway through a Muay Thai training session, left switch kicking to an upright punching bag, I felt a twinge in my lower leg. Unwisely, I disregarded the forewarning ad continued. My calf had knotted and told me to stop. Foolishly, I trained on. I was indestructible, unsinkable even. Next kick, muscle torn, I went down like the titanic. Lesson learned. Massage those muscles people, remove knots, relieve trigger points and pay attention to your body. Listen for those internals. Sorry, I digressed there…

…back to shifting attitudes. My first Fight-Style fitness experience (an upcoming post of a group karate class that didn’t do it for me); I recall no female participant. Not one. Back in the dark ages, women had bounce-aerobics, Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda to help them move it and party off the pounds and little else. Self-defence or Fight-fit classes for women were as rare back  then as what knee warmers are today.

Sands have shifted. And one Sahara-like shift in recent exercise attitude has been women partaking in fight fitness. Yes, women can throw mean left hooks too. Progress has seen fight training move beyond testosterone borders with women reaping the benefits of donning the punching gloves and kicking ass like a boss. And why not.

Boxing, Muay Thai and other fighting disciplines have crossed the sex divide and women are enhancing their fitness and boosting confidence within workouts that are fun, enjoyable AND functional. And so may it grow.

Sex aside, whether your conflict is with your inner demons, the love handles that just refuse to budge or you’re just damn curious to try, working out like MMA fighter will engage both your mind and every muscle you can think of. This is not mindless movement, pushing / pulling weights X-fitness style or flipping tyres. Ouch there goes the back.

Fighting to be fit is muscle confusion and skill-related parameters like reactivity and agility. You’re learning hand-eye co-ordination and enhancing the brain-body connection not training like a donkey.

Hey, you may never step inside an Octagon and take on another but who says you have too? Training like a fighter is a fun and challenging way to develop purposeful strength, insane cardio and that lean athletic look. Be the whole, look the part.

Get healthy. Eat smart. Train smart.

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