Nicole Neuert, owner of Kix 4 Chix, tried various workouts and martial arts to let off steam, but it was kickboxing that clicked.
“It got rid of my anger. I lost 12 pounds in the first week. It did everything for me, and was the best workout I’ve ever done anywhere. You’re like, ‘Wow, I just took out all my aggression and anger, and let it go,’” she told Vancity Buzz.
Neuert grew up in Vancouver, and says that in the 1970s, abuse in the home wasn’t acknowledged as openly as it is today. Feeling unable to address her confusion about being emotionally, physically, and sexually abused weighed heavily on Neuert, and her demons eventually manifested into an eating disorder. At times, she even turned to substances in search of solace.
“At that point, I thought I was the one to blame,” she said.
It was a kickboxing class fifteen years ago that marked the beginning of her healing process. She had moved to the isolated community of Williams Lake with her husband and two small children, and the physicality of kickboxing allowed her to release stress, be active, and make friends.
In fact, Neuert loved it so much that she started to lead her own, all-female classes, and eventually turned this initial endeavour into the Kix 4 Chix franchise. She now owns three locations in B.C.
She believes kickboxing is a way for women coping with abuse to empower themselves. But Neuert is emphatic that it’s also a proven calorie burn that requires every muscle to engage.
“You get a workout, you get a stress release, your body changes. It’s not just losing weight. You get strong,” she said. And indeed, most of the women in class aren’t using it as a form of therapy. They’re looking for a way to kick ass.
In her bright, open studio location in Burnaby, the sounds of impact echo off walls, which are adorned with sayings like “Burpees don’t really like you either.” Women are at every bag, landing punches, kicks, and completing cardio exercises.
The only thing resembling criticism comes from Neuert, who suggests how one woman can kick more effectively; how another can punch more directly. Everyone offers their sparring partner supportive comments between blows.
In the outside world, women tread many lines and try to live up to socially accepted expectations. “You’re allowed to cry, but not allowed to be angry. You’re allowed to be feminine but not show strength,” Neuert said.
Kickboxing gave Neuert a chance to beat these pressures herself, and find an antidote for troubles from her past. Now, she’s using Kix 4 Chix to provide women in Vancouver with a judgement-free space. The only expectation is that they hit as hard as possible.