Finding a gym is like trying to buy a new car: too many options, and too many reasons to put it off. Two years ago, when I was trying to find ways to get myself off the couch (and away from Netflix) and become more active, I had no idea where to start. I hate working out by myself. It’s more of an exercise in laziness and frustration than an actual physical activity. I also felt like normal gyms were intimidating. I go to a place full of fit, intensely motivated strangers, and spend most of the time either doubting my half-heartedly composed workout or comparing myself to the other bodybuilders in the room. Results are slow. I end up depressed and frustrated. It’s just not a good fit, which is why I had put off finding a place to work out for years. Mostly out of laziness but also out of discouragement.
Flash forward to November 2015. I’m unemployed, and currently on the couch watching Netflix (the exact place I know I shouldn’t be at the moment). For those of you who haven’t watched Jessica Jones (and you should because the women are flawed and completely badass), one of the main characters does Krav Maga. I was watching this woman take her physical safety into her own hands, and thinking, “Damn, it would be cool to get into something like that.” When asked about Krav Maga, the character says, “It’s more brutal. No one touches me unless I want them to.” She spends the rest of the season using Krav Maga to kick some ass. We see her train, and we see her fight, usually against men that outweigh her by a lot. She didn't have powers; she was an ordinary woman who had to make herself a force to be reckoned with.
That was it. I was sold. A physical activity that would teach me to become a badass? DONE. I immediately did an internet search, and Krav Maga Spokane popped right up. It took a few months for me to work up to walking into the building and initiate that change but by the time I set up my first consult in May 2016, I didn’t need a lot of persuading. At that point, I needed this. Any fears or doubts I had didn't matter. I did need to get in shape, but I also needed tools to get myself out of any future bad situations. I didn’t have anything close to those tools. As I was listening to the sales pitch during my consult, I knew this would be something that save my life someday. Even if I came out of this experience only remembering one or two defenses, it could save my life.
I have been doing this about two years now. I can’t say I’m quite where I want to be on the badass scale, but I think I’m a few steps closer. That feeling is everything. It’s also not the only thing I leave the gym with at the end of the night. In those two years, here is what I’ve noticed about this gym:
Our workouts are hardcore (in the best way).
I was a swimmer for almost a decade growing up. Those workouts were full body and difficult. Krav Maga workouts are difficult in a whole other way, and often in a more intense way. There are very few, if any, classes where I walk out not soaked in sweat. Fortunately, I’m not the only one. By the time warmups or exhaustion drills are done, everyone is sweating and out of breath, regardless of how fit they are. Our instructors know how to work us into the ground. That alone makes the membership worth it if you just joined for the physical fitness aspect. My endurance and strength are better than they have been in years, and I know many people can say the same. Our physical regime gets us fit, and makes sure we can carry out any self-defense maneuver with strength, aggression, and fierceness.
Our instructors set a high bar, and help us meet it.
Think back to school. I think we could all list off one teacher that impacted us in a meaningful way, and one teaching that impacted us more negatively without thinking too hard about it. I also think we can all agree our instructors at KMS fall in the former category rather than the latter.
KMS instructors set a high bar for us. They push us physically. They demand excellence and attention to detail. But they also help us meet the expectations they set. You’ll frequently hear instructors yelling encouragement during drills. They are focused on us during class, walking the class and providing feedback. If a student doesn’t understand a technique, they watch and critique until it makes sense. If the whole class doesn’t understand a technique, our instructors take the time to go over it, even if it means temporarily derailing the schedule they had in mind for the class.
Our instructors also pay attention to us, not just our techniques. They take our injuries in stride and adjust classes and activities around those, even if that ache or pain develops during class. They notice when we haven’t shown up in a while (which adds a level of accountability you don’t necessarily find at other gyms). KMS instructors are also impressively knowledgeable about what they teach. They welcome questions. I have asked some basic, borderline stupid, questions but I have never felt belittled or dumb for asking them. That’s a wonderful side effect of the gym we frequent.
Our community is kickass in a lot of ways.
The KMS environment is probably one of the best environments I have ever experienced at a gym. Everyone is there for the same things: to be active and learn an important life skill. Because of that, everyone pulls their weight. People rarely gripe or complain about activities (excluding the light-hearted groans whenever burpees come up or shared soreness from yesterday's workout); they show up, and put in the work. It’s a learning environment filled with people who genuinely want to be there. This also breeds a supportive community that I would argue is unparalleled. We work our asses off in class and bond over mutual suffering for exercise. Students encourage each other on the floor and off. When you sign that contract, you get a community to support you along with the all the other benefits.
KMS provides a place where people from all backgrounds, ages, and fitness levels can come and learn something practical and exceptional. It’s a welcoming place that we hope to highlight more through the course of upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, we will see you in class. We have goals to meet, things to learn, and asses to kick.