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What kickboxing took from me, and taught me about writing

I had to stop kickboxing in 2020 and it had nothing to do with the pandemic.


After months of intense pain, numbing in my extremities, and stiffness in my legs, several X-rays displayed scoliosis and hyperlordosis. This is not an inherently problematic diagnosis, but the degree of curve I had in my spine signalled the end of my hobbies:

"No jumping, twisting, spinal loads, or impact sports."

That ruled out kickboxing, a sport that had kept me mentally and physically healthy for years. However, it was a risk to my spine, and I needed to let it go.


I hung up my gloves.

Less symbolically, I donated them to a newer boxer.


Learning 1: Old dogs can learn new tricks

Stopping kickboxing and weightlifting was devastating, they represented a large portion of my social interaction and life outside of work. Knowing my track record, I knew that I would let myself be sucked into a workaholic mode in no time if I only lacked other distractions. So, I looked around me for non-sports-related hobbies.


My flute, which I'd played talentlessly as a teenager for academic purposes, sat in its case. Maybe I could take some classes on my own terms now that I'm a grown-up, I thought. I found an incredible teacher, who not only helped me recover rusty skills but also to learn to improvise, a wholly new way of interacting with my body and mind, as an adult.

I'm certainly just as untalented as I was as a teen, but I honed a hobby that was completely out of my comfort zone! I certainly learned a lot of new skills that I never dominated when younger.


As a writer in a world where social media, search engines, and trends are constantly changing, learning new skills is imperative throughout our careers.


Learning 2: Vulnerability draws real connection

Once I had my diagnosis, I started talking about it. It would have been harder not to, as people wondered why the sudden lifestyle change, why wasn't I exercising?


Sadly, or fortunately for me, I discovered many people who've been diagnosed similarly. Some of them had found ways to safely return to the sports they loved, the sports that harmed them.


Thanks to this experience, I started sharing more openly. I began writing with vulnerability, I built a circle of wonderful people who found me through my authentic writing. There's no going back, now.


Learning 3: A change is not as good as a rest

The adage often holds up. I took a long rest from all sorts of sports. A change of sports would not have been enough in this case. Although I did need to change how I exercised, I also needed to heal entirely before even considering going back to the gym.

The happy ending to this story is that, while I have not returned to contact exercise, I do get my cardio in with controlled kickboxing technique training with a sandbag! So the skill is still there, and a 180° change wasn't entirely necessary, because I rested.


While changing from one type of writing to another can feel like it's firing off different neurons, we still need the rest. Maybe that should be a full weekend, a vacation, or a sabbatical. But don't assume "a change is as good as a rest".

I was inspired by Amee Bhavsar's blog to write this. If you want to follow up on my story into 2024, join me on Substack.

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