By Mari-An C. Santos


A year ago, when anyone asked me what my sport was, I had to stop and think, then say quite sheepishly: “I know how to swim and bike. I sometimes trek up mountains but nothing regular. Yoga isn’t a sport, is it?”

Nine months ago, three friends and I dared to enter the world of kickboxing. We thought that we were just going to bob up and down to upbeat music while simulating kicks and punches like a montage from a movie. And so we readily agreed.

At the gym, we punched, kicked, and hit the air with our elbows and knees. The result was a lot of huffing and puffing and begging, neigh pleading, for water breaks. But we were determined not to throw in the towel. An hour and a half later, we were actually filling out membership forms. Was it peer pressure? Overdose of happy hormones? Who knows? We were actually signing up for more torture, I mean, lessons.

The four of us made up the “girls class.” We moaned and groaned and complained but we always finished the class anyway. We invited more friends and our little band increased.

When I went to Thailand last year, Ricky, the gym owner, referred me to a friend who he had met when he competed in Muay Thai there. Believe it or not, I underwent Muay Thai training in the land of its birth—twice.

A lot has changed since then. Some classmates have become too busy to attend, one moved to Los Baños where she joined another Muay Thai gym, we have new trainers. I have stuck to it. It’s not just because of the noticeable weight loss or my improved strength and endurance. I’m in the best shape I’ve been since, maybe grade school when we did a lot of outdoor activities. But more importantly, kickboxing has helped me discover a part of myself that I never knew existed.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash