How Self-Care – and Kickboxing – Saved my Career

Woman kickboxing


Nichole Odijk DeMario
Nichole Odijk DeMario26
May 24, 2024 at 5:37PM UTC

When I was coming up on my one-year anniversary at a previous communications position, I also found myself in the throes of wedding planning. Talk about stressful. I had decided that I wanted get in the best shape of my life in the hopes of feeling my most confident on my wedding day. The typical bride thing.


It was then that I stumbled upon a kickboxing class.


That first kickboxing class challenged me like I'd never been challenged before. As a self-proclaimed non-athlete, I was completely and utterly out of my element. Sore was an understatement. I was certain my muscles would never repair themselves.


Yet little by little, I improved. As the saying goes, “It doesn’t get easier – you just get better.” That became a fact of my personal life.


But despite the challenge kickboxing put me through every class, it helped too. Slowly, I found not just my kickboxing skills getting better, but my self-care skills too. When I showed up for kickboxing, I had to leave everything at the door. If not, I’d risk hurting myself with bad form or a misplaced punch. For an hour twice a week, I got to check out. I never realized what a relief it was to have something just for me that challenged me and forced me to forget what was going on at the office or with the wedding. 


I’m not a violent person in any way shape or form, but that endorphin release was ideal. And yeah, I’ll be honest: on occasion, I pictured a few people that I knew while I was working on the bags. That helped, too. I could literally punch it out.


Some people could argue that any kind of exercise can get you in this headspace. But on days when life was really getting me down and I would have much rather changed into pajamas and eaten my weight in ice cream after work, I had my kickboxing instructor and classmates counting on me to show up. If I didn’t, there’d be a text message asking where I was. That accountability was unparalleled for me. 


Kickboxing saved me from myself. It saved me from getting too caught up in the minutiae. It set me on a path to a healthier self. I became a practitioner and cheerleader for self-care.


While kickboxing – or even group exercise classes – may not be everyone’s bag, I can’t stress enough to find your "thing" whatever it may be.


Kickboxing truly changed my life. I found a passion I never knew existed and an outlet that has helped me become my best self.  The practice led me to teach fitness classes myself. And I’ve since written countless articles on health-related subjects and I make a living helping companies develop their corporate wellness programs. 


I hope you do the same. 

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