Jennifer Ashawasegai practicing on the heavy bag at Family Kickboxing in Sudbury.    Photo credit: Coach Ray Blais

Jennifer Ashawasegai practicing on the heavy bag at Family Kickboxing in Sudbury. Photo courtesy of: Coach Ray Blais.

Submitted by Jennifer Ashawasegai

So, I signed up for fighter training to compete in a kickboxing tournament in about eight months. At 42, I realize I’m no spring chicken, but I’m sure as hell not old, and I’m going to do this! I also want people to know that age is not a limitation – it’s an excuse! Too many times, I see people just give up and get old all of a sudden. There’s way too much to do and see on this earth, ain’t nobody got time to get old!

I started kickboxing class in February 2016 with my buzgim (sweetheart). We had agreed to attend dance classes together; however, I fell ill and missed the registration date. So, logically, of course I enrolled us in kickboxing. We both loved it!! It’s really great exercise for your whole body, it’s excellent for your mind (I’ve found that I think a little differently now – but that’s a story for another time), and it’s a great release!

I’ve come to this point pretty late in the game, but that’s okay. I was a young mom, and now my kids have grown, so, I have time to do this. Coach Ray Blais, at Family Kickboxing in Sudbury was also a late bloomer. The 54-year-old started to learn kickboxing at 43, and fought at 44 – that means there’s hope for me.

Not only am I adding to my fitness regime, I also have to change my diet. I went from busting out of a size 16 a couple of years ago, had a hysterectomy (another story), and decided to get fit. In less than two years, I went from a size 16 to a skinny size eight, I’m currently a fit size 10. There’s a lot more to this journey than dieting and exercising. I need to eat to perform, and for someone with a history of eating disorders, this may be a little challenging. When I first lost weight, it was a delicate balancing act, and a lot of tears – this journey will probably not be that much different.

There’s also attitude to consider and I wonder if it’ll be similar to preparing for the Sundance ceremony. I used to prepare a couple months in advance by taking long daily walks. It’s good to be somewhat physically prepared if one is participating in the thirst dance – but it’s not that necessary because the strength you pull from, comes from within. I remember being pretty exhausted on the second and third days, my tank was extremely empty; however, no matter how depleted I felt, I managed to dig deep every time and come up with a certain resolve which helped me to the finish line.

My coach told me last week, “There’s always going to be someone faster and stronger than you. With age comes experience, and you’ll have to strategize when you fight. You have to take charge of the ring and fight to your strengths.” During class, he also speaks about heart. “If you have the heart, you can win the fight.” Those statements are what I’ll be counting on when I have a less than stellar day.

I’m looking forward to this journey, I know it’ll have a few bumps along the way, and I understand there’s a real opportunity for personal growth here and most of all, I have little eyes watching me! I have four grandbabies! Cool Nokomis or what eh?!?