By Lily Smith
Photo by Abbie Ryan
Meg Ryan: Teacher by day and amateur kickboxer by night
If you are in any of Ms. Ryan’s classes, you have heard about her unique hobby. Last April, Ms. Ryan found out about Memphis Fitness Kickboxing and was immediately fascinated by this unique form of fitness. She began kickboxing for exercise. She said, “I played sports in high school and had an ACL injury, and after that I struggled to stay healthy because it’s harder to be involved in team sports as an adult.” Kickboxing has allowed Ms. Ryan the ability to exercise in a group setting and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
However, as she quickly progressed in her classes, Ms. Ryan began to realize that kickboxing could be more than just a way to stay healthy, and these fitness classes blossomed into a much more intensive hobby. After being encouraged by one of her instructors, Ms. Ryan began to practice Muay Thai, another form of martial arts, at Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu. After trying Muay Thai in October of last year, Ms. Ryan said, “I had no idea what I was doing. I just jumped right in. It took me a few months to get good, but I pushed myself and fell in love with it.”
While this hobby may seem unusual to many people, Ms. Ryan has found that it has become an important outlet as a part of her stressful life. Ms. Ryan said, “Martial arts in general is not just about fighting or health or exercise. It about achieving zen and finding peace of mind and concentration in the moment.” She says that she had never experienced anything like it before, and it has become a very spiritual part of her life. Ms. Ryan added, “It keeps me from being a perfectionist, and it prevents me from being hasty or urgent.” She finds the entire process to be extremely healing in terms of escaping her mind and being present in the moment.
Ms. Ryan’s greatest accomplishment so far is coming in second place at the International Kickboxing Federation Tournament in Orlando in August. She now has two trainers and trains in both Memphis and Nashville. She said, “I get so many different sides of the sport having two different senseis in a sense to guide me.”
Having progressed quickly relative to other kickboxers, Ms. Ryan says her resilient personality has helped her achieve her goals. She said, “If I really love something and it helps me to grow as a person, I’m gonna go all in. Even when I don’t feel like it, I go. Even when I am hurting, I train. Even when I’m exhausted and haven’t gotten any sleep, I go because it is the consistency in the little things that allows you to be great.” As she continues to fight and persevere through her struggles, Ms. Ryan hopes to eventually become a professional kickboxer and pursue her training in places around the world such as Thailand. She said, “In three years, I would like to be in the Glory Kickboxing ring, which is the top kickboxing federation in America.”
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