(In photo right to left : Rachel Reinheimer, Patricia Badia, Katie Reis, Shelley Devine, Lauren Handrahan, Mercedes, Carol, Julie Catalano)
Intimidating is the only word to describe the overall first time feeling as a female walking down a side street off Broadway in Somerville, MA, not sure as to what lays ahead of you behind the black painted steel door as you open it and dare to step down into the testosterone filled fight club, that you already know has pumped out world famous fighters such as Kenny Florian and Jorge Riveria, but still with only your will and desire you take a deep breath and enter.
That’s the feeling I had, and suspect colleague Lauren Handrahan had as well, when we first came to Sityodtong, the famous Muay Thai camp owned by Mark DellaGrotte, to learn how to fight and to inspire other women to do the same. It seems hard to believe that I showed up on Saturday mornings for over a year trying to get a women’s class going to no avail and that the two of us trained there not knowing each other existed before the class went official. And little did Lauren and I know how much love we had in common until being some how cosmically thrown together to teach the Saturday morning Women’s Muay Thai Circuit Training program, which now has most participants hungry for more female only class time.
But the question that rattles around in my mind is why has it taken so long for this class to exist in the Boston area, not to mention east coast when there is so much interest in MMA in general?
By comparison there is a strong trend of classes of this type featuring authentic style training classes for women out west, thanks to the likes of Ken Shamrock who began offering a women’s only class at his Lion’s Den in Scottsdale, in 2008, and Randy Couture of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, who also offers a women’s only Muay Thai class.
Even though other classes are springing up in other gyms across the country, I can not but feel that we east coasters are still behind the eight ball, especially for matching up female talent for amateur and pro fighting competitions. But that aside, it seems like most trends, women’s MMA fighting is making its way state to state, but at a sluggish pace.
This is not to say that we easterners have not had female fighters representing this area, it’s just to say there is clearly not enough class time available for women who are interested to train in women only classes and that also could add to the lack of trained talent to be matched up for local fight venues.
It is my hope that this class will bring in more interested women who may feel a bit intimidated, but have had the desire to try out a class of this type that is more authentic, but will also potentially sway those few into actually competing, which seems to be the case for some of the women who recently began training at Sityodtong. It appears they come in for conditioning or fun, but then something shifts in them, those fears they initially may have had are now being dispelled because in fact they are actually doing something they were historically told that girls don’t do and that was fight!! And their fighter’s edge emerges and they want more!
Times are clearly vastly changing because this class is also being featured for the last 4 months at Roslindale Yoga in Roslindale, Ma three times a week with no end in sight! The funny thing is that because it is a yoga studio, we do not use the word “kickboxing”, because it might be offensive, so we call it Muay Thai Circuit Training Bootcamp…hey, what ever it takes, right ? I suspect it is long over due, but that tipping point for female fighters that Lauren and I have craved is about, to my delight, explode!