My CKO Journey Begins

April 2, 2018
​Thanksgiving 2017 was a memorable time with family. The holiday contained an overabundance of laughs, love, and great food. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and had no care about overeating.  I packed my new size 40 jeans and tons of loose shirts. Let the feast begin! Upon arriving home from our family vacation, I stepped on the scale and was shocked.

290 lbs.
Dear God, what have I done?

I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life with my weight bouncing up and down, and I’m sick of it all.  I’m staring 50 years of life in the face, and I need to lose all this weight. Every last pound, but how?  I’ve tried dropping the weight before and failed. It’s been a vicious cycle of the treadmill, elliptical, lifting, Weight Watchers, Atkins diet, and running. It was just two years ago I ran my first full marathon.  Crossing the finish line that day was a significant accomplishment but left me broken physically. I love running, but it’s a guaranteed knee replacement waiting to happen. So now what? I can’t go back to what I was doing before, and I needed a change.

In the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving food fest, I noticed Facebook posts from my friend Steve. He was checking into the CKO-South Charlotte gym, and apparently having the time of his life. His pictures showed a dramatic transformation over the last year. I reached out to Steve to find out what this was all about and he said this:

“I never thought I would enjoy something that kicks my ass, but I do.”

Woah. That’s the experience I need – an enjoyable ass kicking. Steve’s glowing endorsement motivated me to sign up for a full year membership without even walking into the gym. My CKO journey begins.

I’m pragmatic when trying a new sport, so I opted to work with one of CKO’s instructors on all of the kickboxing moves before attempting my first class. After these sessions, I was confident with the punches and kicks and was ready to jump in. I attended my first class right before Christmas, and it was painful. Ringing in my head were the words of my instructor, “Go at your own pace!” That’s what I did. I was slow, exhausted, but went through at my own pace.  I was so sore the next day, but one hour of CKO was so much fun.

How can this be?

The reason was I was learning all these moves: boxer stance, jab, cross, hook, uppercut, roundhouse, back-hand, elbow, front-kick, and the mighty flying front kick. I realized I could spend the rest of my life trying to perfect a jab punch. Now, that is exciting. I never appreciated the nuances of boxing, and I have the opportunity to become a student of a sport while working my tail off.  The addiction begins.

After the Christmas holiday, I was ready to rock. New boxing gloves, wraps, shoes, and attitude. My first goal was to get to the 5:30 AM class three times per week and build my endurance up from there. I had no idea how attending my first early AM class would change everything, and help me understand what CKO is all about. I entered the gym early to stretch out, and other members started coming in. I thought to myself these are the crazy ones. To be up at the crack of dawn to sweat it out while the rest of humanity struggles to get the day started. These are my people.  We warm up, stretch, and then the punches and kicks begin. Pop. Pop. Pop!

What the hell was that?!

Out of the corner of my eye, this woman was crushing the heavy bag. I mean killing it. At this point, I’m about ready to turn in my guy card – I could hardly keep up with the instructor. Then I realize she’s not the only one.  Four other women were putting on a kickboxing clinic. At this point, I’m entirely emasculated.  Later, I would find out these women are affectionally called the Sweat Angels – an often used hashtag that accompanies their posts to Facebook and Instagram. I couldn’t think of a better term to describe a group of moms continually pushing to become the best version of themselves.

After attending a few classes, I introduced myself to the morning crew and then, after possible verification I wasn’t a creep, the compliments of my progress started coming.  There was a slow realization CKO was more than just a gym, but a community where you make close friendships. Eventually, I would attend additional classes and begin seeing the same guys and gals who made CKO a part of their lifestyle, and other bonds started to form. The addiction was growing, and I began using a hashtag in my social posts: #CKOfamily.

The new year cranked up, and for the first time in years, I was genuinely excited about working out. After an early morning CKO session, one of the Sweat Angels asked, “are you doing the 10-week challenge?” I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was interested. I come to find out the CKO 10-week challenge is a focused period of classes, coaching, nutrition, pad work, and my favorite – accountability.  This challenge appeared to be an opportunity to double down on my weight loss efforts. Why the heck not? Let’s do this!

I attended the information session with Linda, co-owner, and nutrition coach, to get all the details of the challenge. One of the handouts included a goal sheet. I’ve written my weight goals down before, and it typically brings moments of dread as I recall the numerous times I have failed. Even though there was resistance to putting pen to paper, I wrote it down. 290 to 190. My big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG).  I then added the specific goal of 30 lbs total weight loss in ten weeks. Three pounds per week is aggressive, but I was ready to put in the work.

Fast-forward ten weeks. What did you miss? Intense kickboxing workouts, food tracking, supplements, coaching, pad training, and weigh-ins. A transformation was slowly happening, and I could feel the momentum building with every day during this 10-week challenge.

I pulled into the parking lot of CKO for my final weigh-in of the Challenge. I was early, so I sat staring at the gym reflecting on my experience. A thought entered my head: everyone who I came in contact with through CKO wanted to see me succeed.  Sometimes it was a bit of encouragement with a fist bump after a workout, or an instructor calling me out when my plank wasn’t straight.  Damn those planks! These little moments of inspiration added up and were the fuel to keep me going through this entire experience.

My final 10-Week Challenge measurements:
285 lbs to 261 lbs (24-pound loss)
34% body fat to 25% body fat (9% loss)

I asked Nick, the co-owner,  to retake my body fat count. 25% came up again on the readout. I was shocked by the results. After a few more calculations, we determined I gained 4lbs of muscle during the Challenge. Overall it’s been a 29 lb weight loss over 16 weeks. I’m almost one-third of the way to my goal of 100 pounds, and most of the effort was during this Challenge.

I immediately signed up for another 10-week Challenge. Why not? Too many times I have had success only to fall back into my old habits, but this time feels different. This initial success is just the start of my journey. Now, I’m addicted to CKO.

Gloves on!