SINGAPORE - From leading a sedentary lifestyle to working out for three to four hours a week, Ms Karen Chew owes her new lease of life to muay thai.
The technology marketer in her 50s picked up the Thai martial art three years ago to ease work stress and learn a new skill.
Her fitness level was "at its lowest" then and she also thought it was a good idea to learn muay thai for self-defence as she had to go on business trips.
"Besides self-defence, it can also put me in a better shape so it can kill two birds with one stone," says Ms Chew, who adds that she had not been exercising for at least 15 years after starting a family.
Her daughter is 20 and her son 17.
While the first couple of months after taking up muay thai were challenging, the "good space" that the martial art put her in has kept her going.
"When I come out of the class, I feel like I can face any challenges that are thrown at me and I like that feeling. It's the happy high that got me hooked."
She says muay thai has built up her confidence and strength in all aspects of life.
"With that strength, I feel a lot stronger and can go on a lot longer each day. I also face challenges with greater confidence; it has given me greater mental acuity."
Besides her mood, muay thai has boosted her stamina too.
"When I was running with my husband in the past, I would run 200m before walking 500m to recover. Now, I can easily run 5km."
Her husband is her greatest supporter. Besides driving her to her classes, he got her a punching bag during the circuit breaker last year when training was cancelled.
With the punching bag, she was able to keep up her training regime at home.
The presence of women in muay thai has broken the social stereotypes of martial arts being male-dominated, says Ms Chew.
Referring to the combat sport event, she says: "When I see women martial art fighters out there in the One Championship, I see the beauty, the great sacrifices, the hard work, the sheer willpower that got them to where they are today.
"And I applaud them."
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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