Vail Valley ‘baby mamas’ get buff
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Their faces are red. Sweat beads up on their foreheads, then drips down their face as they punch, kick, punch, punch in quick succession. With determined faces, they focus on the pads in front of them, and grunt as they make contact. Rage Against the Machine blares through the speakers and the pads underfoot vibrate in time to the bass.
It’s an overcast Thursday morning and 16 women and two men – 15 of them parents, all of them barefoot and wearing punching gloves – are in the middle of a cardio kickboxing class at Inyodo Martial Arts studio in the Northstar Center in Edwards. Some of the students have been taking classes together for months, if not years.
“It’s this whole sub culture I didn’t even know about until I started,” says Edwards resident Jana Morgan.
That’s not to say there aren’t newbies starting classes each week, though.
“I was going to go to jazzercise, but I ended up here,” a woman in her mid-to-late-30s tells Jason Field, the instructor and owner who is teaching her various punching drills in front of a wall of mirrors.
“That’s some detour,” he replies, smiling.
Classes begin with students jogging around the room, warming up. Next comes squats, kicks, punches or some combination of the three down the middle of the room over and over again. Fields then sets up four free-standing heavy bags in the center of the room. Participants jog in circles around the room until he calls their number, then they practice drop and roundhouse kicks on the bag.
During the last half of class, the group breaks into pairs that spar with each other, rotating being the puncher or the holder. Field calls out drills in between.
“Give me some squats – 20 each leg,” he yells over the thumping music.
After class, Karin Ericson, a slender blonde who has been kickboxing off and on for a year, admits that most of the women present would likely tell their kids to “shut that crap off” if they were to play the same music at home. But here, she says, it gets the attendees amped and makes the class fly by.
While most of the students are parents – “we’ve got some in-shape baby mamas in class, for sure,” Field says – they’re also athletes who take training seriously. A few of the women have even competed in kickboxing matches before – like Melissa Myers who is six months pregnant and attending classes under a doctor’s supervision.
“A week after my last fight I found out I was pregnant,” says the mother of one, soon to be two. “I started kickboxing a year after I had my first child. I was still carrying around 15 pounds of baby weight. Within six weeks I was back to my pre-baby weight and six months later I had my first fight.”
Kim Christodal, 34, a mother of a 2-1/2-year old and an 11-month old, is preparing for her first kickboxing competition on June 18 in Denver. Christodal teaches kid’s taekwondo classes and cardio kickboxing classes five days a week at Inyodo but at Thursday’s class she was training.
“I’m really excited about the fight,” she says. “Every time I see a lot of the girls I’ve trained, they’ll fight someone and they do so well, I’m like ‘Why aren’t I doing it?’ The past few years I’ve been busy having babies and teaching and this gives me something to look forward to. It gives me that goal.”
Some of the people started coming because they heard it was, literally, a kick-butt workout, others because they discovered it was a good way to let off steam, or because their kids were taking taekwondo or kickboxing classes at the studio.
Cheryl Grimaldi started kickboxing in 2007, after her sons, Max, 10, and Luke, 7, started attending classes at Inyodo, she says.
“It was so fun I just had to try it,” Grimaldi says. “It’s so empowering.”
Morgan, who also has kids taking classes at Inyodo, began kickboxing in November and quickly saw a change in her body. Beyond the physical benefits, the class is a great stress reliever and builds courage, she says.
On a recent trip to Chicago, Morgan visited a seedier part of the Windy City but wasn’t nervous.
“You just feel more confident,” she says.
It’s easy to see why. The class is definitely physically demanding, evident by the longtime participants’ well-toned muscles. That’s thanks to Field, who makes sure everyone is running, kicking, punching or squatting for the full 60 minutes. Class ends with rounds of push ups and abdominal crunches.
“I didn’t puke the first time, but I was close,” Ericson says. “For me, it’s inspirational to see what stellar shape these athletes are in. And the people who are in great shape, it’s still a great work out for them too. They just crank it up a notch.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.