Like many young people growing up in a post-social-media world, Sandra Riley Tang struggled with body image issues.
People with body image issues tend to have a distorted and negative view of their bodies that is significantly different from how others see them. It is an issue that can affect both women and men.
When you have a distorted view of your body, your perceptions of yourself are based on how you saw yourself as a child and the feedback you received from those around. Those who tend to be perfectionists are more susceptible to having this types of issues.
Fortunately for Sandra, martial arts training helped her overcome her negative perception of her body, and it helped her to become comfortable in her own skin. Ironically, she is now bigger and stronger than she has ever been.
“Martial arts gave me a new passion in life,” Sandra explains. “To be honest, eight years ago I actually struggled with a lot of body image issues. I was actually really skinny, I was at my lightest and I thought I was fat. I’m actually the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. But, I feel the strongest, I feel the fittest, and I’m actually the leanest I have ever been as well.”
Sandra’s story is not atypical when it comes to people struggling with body image issues who stumble upon martial arts. Martial arts are a lot more than learning self-defense and getting in shape. Sure, there are very few exercises that can compare to the intensity of the burn you get when training martial arts (you can burn up to 1,000 calories for every hour spent training), but martial arts have many other benefits like improved confidence, improved problem-solving skills, and improved self-discipline.
Learning valuable things like these does wonders for the way you perceive yourself.
“You know this addition in my life of learning BJJ has changed my life 100 percent,” Sandra says. “Not only physically that I feel a bit more capable, I can defend myself. Being on the mat is such a great stress reliever, it taught me something really important. I used to be very quick, and I got distracted very easily. I could never sit still. Doing BJJ has taught me that you have to think, and that was the thing that I struggled with the most when I first started BJJ because I was like panicking all the time. I’m like ‘what do I do now?’ And then I just have to calm myself down and think. It has affected me in so many ways.”
When you decide to better yourself by signing up for martial arts classes, finding a reputable school with experienced instructors is just as important as being fully committed to your training. You want to make sure that the instructors don’t play favorites and are equally invested in all their students, you want to make sure the equipment and facility being used is safe and clean, and you want a martial arts gym with a family-friendly atmosphere that helps you relax.
“Evolve is great! I mean, the facilities are great, and I think not just that, the environment is great,” Sandra added. “The instructors, most importantly, are great. They are all World Champions.”
Martial arts training isn’t something you need to force yourself to do just because you want to improve your body image and confidence. It is actually something that you will look forward to. You’ll look forward to adding new techniques to your repertoire, you will look forward to getting a good workout, and you will look forward to the new friends you are guaranteed to make at the gym. Your training partners will serve as a support system that will always be there when you are struggling with a technique or simply just need some encouragement.
Martial arts training can also be a great way to bond with family members. It gives you all something in common to get excited about. For Sandra, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has brought her closer to her father.
“My dad is actually very happy,” Sandra elaborates. “When I told him ‘Dad, I’m gonna start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!’ He was like ‘really?’ And then he started telling me about these other things that he used to do when he was younger. He loves martial arts. It is one of his passions, and now that I’m actually into it, I feel a lot closer to my dad to be honest because there are some things we can both talk about and both be really excited about.”
Sandra has earned her BJJ blue belt, and she couldn’t be happier she decided to give martial arts training a shot.
“So I actually found and stumbled upon martial arts by accident,” Sandra explains. “I saw Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I was like ‘What is that? Why are people sitting on top of one another?’ So I was a little bit hesitant to try. But then my friend convinced me to do it, and I did. From the first class, that was it. I was hooked, and I just continued training until today.”
If you are currently dealing with body image issues, confidence issues, or simply want to live a more balanced lifestyle, martial arts classes might be just what you need to make you feel comfortable in your own skin. You will learn valuable self-defense skills, it will get you in remarkable physical shape, it will improve your analytical skills under pressure, and you will make lots of new friends who can serve as your support system.
And those are just a few benefits of learning martial arts. There are many others.
Head on down to try out a complimentary introductory class. There you’ll get to experience the benefits of training martial arts first hand.
Book your complimentary trial class with our World Champions below!
If you have any other questions regarding Evolve MMA and the programs we offer, you can get in touch with our membership executives at the following locations: