What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
It’s a startling thing to admit, but I’ve realized something about myself lately, something I desperately have to fix. I’m a bit broken when it comes to the self-confidence game.
Now, that’s a hard thing to admit to a whole audience of strangers, but it’s all about being honest and that’s the damned truth. The past few years were a bit brutal for me. I was date raped by an ex-boyfriend a few years ago and came home to call and tell my then-boyfriend, who broke up with me on the phone during that conversation. I fell into severe financial difficulties and lost my place to live –- twice, actually -- which became a bit of a gossip item among the blogosphere and PR firms. In short, life handed me my ass and I basically sat there holding it, not exactly sure what to do next.
The good news is that I did get back up again. I’m now happy, living in a gorgeous place in Manhattan and rebuilding my life piece by piece. What I hadn’t realized until recently is how much of an impact that kind of shit takes on your self-confidence. I’ve fought and survived a lot, but after Life decided to send me in the ring with Mike Tyson, I emerged a bit punch-drunk and not just a little freaked out. Luckily, both ears are still intact.
At the time when you realize that you’re acting a tad “meek” you have two options: You can continue on the path of least resistance and hope that everything ends up okay, or you can put your ass back in the ring and learn how to fight again. I’ve chosen the latter path. Last night, I decided to head to the West Village’s WillSpace to take willSTRIKE, a workout series that’s based on boxing, martial arts, yoga, and pilates, taught by a UFC-fighting ass-whipping tank of a human named Mike.
That’s right: I’m learning to fight as therapy. No more hiding, no more insecurities: it’s go time.
I’m no stranger to workouts. No, I’m up for barre classes and I’m a proud member of the spinning cult phenomenon. But there’s something about having someone wrap your hands and put you in boxing gloves that puts a whole new spin on things.
The class only has four people in it and you work in teams of two. You run, you limber and then you actually spar using gloves and protective pads. It’s based on the principle that MMA fighters have stamina, incredible cardio endurance, balance and they’re fit from mind to body. The class works similar to UFC matches -– you run, you kick, you throw down, you deliver a cardio smack down until you’re lying in a pool of sweat. Every single muscle is worked and you never stop moving. The goal is to teach you the skills of fighting but also to deliver a body that’s toned, lithe and pretty badass.
For me, the breakthrough occurred about midway through, when I got a chance to throw a real punch and feel the resistance of the bag. Something inside of me just clicked. I threw punches at the people who had hurt me. I kicked so many times I ran out of breath and had to take a walk down the room. As the instructor kept pushing me to my physical limits, I caught myself checking out my form. I caught a glimpse of my own eyes and right there I saw that that spark of life was back. No more hiding. I punched and kicked my way back to life.
Ever wanted to take a whack at someone or something? Unfortunately, there are laws against that (unless you’re in danger, in which case I hope you get medieval on them), but, for me, anyway, the therapy of releasing all that anger and the knowledge that I can not only throw a punch but I have some skills to defend myself in ways that will cause MASSIVE bodily harm cannot be measured in words. I walked in as Slightly Intimidated; I walked out with "Eye of the Tiger" playing in my head.
I’m going back for me. I believe every woman has a right to feel safe and at home in her own body. The program is offered as a challenge of two classes a week for 30 days as a cardio workout with a ton of self-defense thrown in. All I know is that for me, I needed to hit something and hit it HARD and I’m not done hitting. I’m going back for more. I plan on leaving the last bit of baggage – including the weight I gained while I was curled up in a ball -– on that floor.
Watch out, world: I’m hitting back.