In Spring of 2012, I graduated from a demanding and rigorous Division 1 Rowing Team, having spent over 12 years perfecting my skill as coxswain. When I arrived in Buffalo at the end of my final season, I knew I needed an outlet to challenge myself physically but didn’t know what to do.
There is no limit to what you can accomplish at KC’s. The encouragement and support within the community is echoed by every member who has walked through its doors.
I had no challenge outside of work and I refused to admit that I actually missed two-a-day practices and the requirement of monitoring my weight for competition. In pursuit of an equally satisfying workout to our college practices, my former teammates and I sampled every variety of workouts available to us. It actually became amusing to see what we would attempt next; hot yoga, regular yoga, roller blading, running, spinning, acrobatics on fabric sheets (in case any of us decided we wanted to try out for Cirque du Soleil), INSANITY Workout. You name it, I tried it. Some worked for short periods of time, but none were enough to keep me focused through the entire workout, and frankly, I was bored out of my mind.
I needed something that excited me. I wanted the challenge of learning something new but didn’t know what that was yet. What I did know was that I needed a group to workout with. The impersonal gym environment where the only interaction between people is to ask “when are you going to be done with that machine?” was definitely not for me. I wanted a group to challenge me and hold me accountable to myself. I wasn’t working out because I had to; I was working out because I wanted to.
My long time mentor and high school rowing coach, Aileen McNamara, introduced me to KC’s Fitness in 2014 where we took a Women’s Boxing Class on Tuesday and Thursday evening. Unfortunately, my work hours conflicted with the class and I reluctantly had to stop attending. After two weeks of zero participation I received a call while at work from one of the coaches – Warren Griffin. He was checking in to see how I was doing and wondering when I was coming back to work out. This simple phone call blew my mind. It was the first time since college rowing that someone made me feel accountable for my own fitness and progress towards my goals. Once my hours changed, I immediately went back to KC’s!
My first class back was with an instructor I didn’t know, Shawn McDonell. As soon as I walked in, Shawn had introduced himself right away. That class, we ran stairs, did various boxing stations and hit a heavy bag with a baseball bat. By the end of it I was exhausted, but I felt fantastic because of the connection I felt with the people in class.
From that point on, KC’s became a part of my daily routine and its incredible staff is its best asset. I enjoy working with people I trust and respect; this I have found with every instructor at KC’s. David Hooper, who teaches the Women’s Boxing Class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings actually participates in the workout with us. He is right there doing burpees, swinging kettlebells; helping each of us to set goals, meet them and redefine them. No matter where you are physically or what you’re trying to achieve, David is behind you 100%.
The uniqueness of working out alongside the instructors at KC’s has not worn off and I don’t believe it ever will. It is not uncommon to find Pietro holding a kick shield during class, Marisa practicing a combination on the side of the room or working her way into stations, Shawn wearing the body shield taking shovel hooks while managing to correct you when you’re throwing them improperly, or Kevin taking on 6 people at once for an hour at a time.
I started off with one goal in mind – making it to one class every day. Over time, it has evolved into setting goals such as: being able to hold well enough for Pietro so he can get a great workout or getting out of bed once a week for a morning class – which I haven’t yet accomplished, but I know I will!
After almost a year, no two classes have been the same. Each day I am eager as I leave work to get to class and see what challenges await me. In class, I find myself taking risks by holding mitts for some of the toughest men and women there and I’ve come to realize when I’m away from KC’s, I don’t just miss working out I miss the energy of the Gym itself.
There is no limit to what you can accomplish at KC’s. The encouragement and support within the community is echoed by every member who has walked through its doors. The transformation you’ll see in your body is secondary to the transformation you will see in the happiness of your everyday life after joining KC’s.
Transformation With A Mean Right Hook
In January, I was talking with a friend about an unconventional class she was taking in her masters program. Her assignment was to pursue something that she had always dreamed of doing and present her journey at the end of the course. She challenged me to follow suit and go after something I had dreamed of learning to do, and boxing was at the top of my list. I was never athletic so the idea was pretty intimidating, but you can only bullshit yourself with those excuses for so long. Soon I found myself sitting next to Pietro in the office at KC’s Fitness and there was no turning back.
I carry myself more confidently and feel like I have a stronger presence everywhere I go. And challenging situations have become less intimidating.
I didn’t expect that I would experience such a significant personal transformation in just six months. I didn’t lose an insane amount of weight or discover that I was a boxing prodigy. But I do feel myself getting stronger and more motivated to push myself harder. I notice my feet and hands moving quicker and more confidently. The first week at KC’s, the goal was 10 push-ups. Now my sights are set on pull-ups and strapping on a weight vest before I do my push-ups. At first, I thought making it in for a few classes a week was solid. Now I find myself rising early for morning class and coming back in the evening for round two. No small feat for a woman who will never, ever be a morning person.
More importantly, I notice a difference outside the gym. I shake off the expectation that as a woman, I probably can’t lift heavy things or hold my own. I reject the widely held perception that beautiful women are thin women. I don’t want to look like a model – I want to be a badass like Wonder Woman. I carry myself more confidently and feel like I have a stronger presence everywhere I go. And challenging situations have become less intimidating. It’s amazing how discovering your physical potential translates to the other aspects of your life.
I think it speaks to the positive learning environment that the instructors at KCs have created and their dedication to strengthening the entire person, not just their muscles. They pay attention to your progress and find a way to help you magnify your strengths. And their efforts are amplified by the other members who are genuinely great, encouraging people to be around and patient role models for new people.
It sounds nice reading about it, but spend an hour in a class at KC’s and you’ll understand it. Take David Hooper’s women’s boxing class, for example. Everyone arrives at different fitness levels, but he conditions all of us to rise above the assumption that we can’t hold our own with the guys. The workouts are tough as hell, but he never underestimates our ability to conquer whatever he throws our way – and he won’t allow us to underestimate ourselves either. It’s those unique experiences that have made this gym one of my favorite places. Because of those experiences, I walk out after every class and I feel like Wonder Woman.