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Muay Thai Success Story: In-Depth with Kelly Engleka

February 10, 2016

If you want something you have to go and get it. Do you know what you want?

January 2015 (Before on the left) vs. January 2016 (After on the right)Kelly Engleka knew immediately and took action by joining X3 Sports without even trying a class. She wanted to change her life and she did. Her career as a recruiter was only 1.5 miles away from her local X3 Sports Marietta. Little did she know there was a whole family and friends waiting for her. Follow along with this month's Success Story as we interview about how her decision a year ago is still positively affecting her mentally, emotionally and physically.


HOW DID YOU DISCOVER X3?

“Someone emailed me about X3. I knew you guys were only 1.5 miles from where I work, but I didn’t know much about the gym. Someone in my life said, 'You should check out the gym.' I came in from work one day and signed right up. I walked into the door, and wanted to try kickboxing.

ss_kelly_fencekick"That January, I had run a race called “The Goofy Race & A Half Challenge” at Walt Disney World”. It was a half marathon of 13.1 miles on Saturday with my mom, and then a full marathon of 26.2 miles on Sunday with my friend. I had my medals and was so excited, and then I saw the race pictures and I was mortified. I didn’t like how I looked. I looked swollen.

"I knew that my gym habits weren’t working. I was doing local gyms around here. And so I knew something had to change. X3 Sports was a style of gym I had never been to and said 'Why not? Let’s give it a shot!'" 

SEEMS YOU ARE QUITE THE ATHLETE! WHAT SPORTS HAVE YOU PARTICIPATED IN?

Always in motion, Kelly kicks, punches and knees her way to being fit!

Always in motion, Kelly kicks, punches and knees her way to being fit!

"I was a basketball player all throughout childhood and into adulthood. I was obsessed with it, I was a shooting guard. But I’m 5’4” and I knew I didn’t have a future career in the WNBA. I was also a swimmer and did a little track & field and threw discus in shot put and made it all the way in state.

"In college, I played intramurals for awhile. I went out for the basketball team but decided to focus on getting my education. After that, I ate like I was working out all day long, but I wasn’t working out anymore. So I gained a lot more than the Freshman 15.

"So post college, lot of running which taught me self-discipline and self-worth, but it’s not necessarily a weight-loss sport that way I was doing it. I was going to spin classes and hot yoga, but I wasn’t treating my body like the athlete that I am. I wasn’t eating correctly, I wasn’t warming up or cooling down correctly. So my workout routine was really basic: write some stuff down, go into the gym, try and lift some weights, do spin class, walk out and then consume twice as many calories as I probably burned."

THAT ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE. THEY THINK THEY HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT TO DO, THEY GO AND DO IT, AND NOTHING HAPPENS AND THEN THEY QUIT.

“I practicially live here!

"X3 works for people who want to come in and invest in X3. You come in willing to work, and X3 works with you. You give and you get, and it makes you better person."

  

YOU SAID YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH MARTIAL ARTS [MUAY THAI] IMMEDIATELY. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT?

ss_kelly_theendYou can feel the team camaraderie at the end of each Muay Thai class (right image).

“Not having any martial arts background at all, I never took karate or anything. When I came into kickboxing, I liked the feeling of kicking and punching a bag. As an adult, that’s a great way to get your stress out.

"Muay Thai class was right across from Kickboxing class, and there was a couple nights I saw some people and it looked like a family working hard together but also joking around.

"I asked my instructor Joel Kasik about transitioning from Kickboxing to Muay Thai and he help me out. Something about it just clicked. There was a discipline the art required and a learning aspect. I don’t think very often as adults we push ourselves to learn something new. So it’s been really amazing to start from scratch. It’s been awesome to be like a kindergartner and learn the basics and work from the ground up. Something about that really worked with my spirit."

AMAZING, ONE DAY YOU ARE WATCHING THE CLASS, NEXT DAY YOU ARE IN THE CLASS! JUST LIKE JOINING X3, SEEMS LIKE WHEN YOU WANT TO DO IT, THEN YOU JUST GO AND DO IT.

"I feel like you have to be that way about your life. If you want something, you have to go and get it. Nobody is going to get it for you. Nobody is going to hand it to you. But what’s great is when people see you working for what you want, they innately want to help you. You form relationships this way."

 

YOU MENTIONED YOU COME HERE DAILY AND THAT X3 IS YOUR FAMILY. TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT.

"These days I’m at the gym 5 days a week, my routine usually consists of Muay Thai, FastTrack, and PowerTrack. On the mats, I’d say that Joel Kasik is the best natural mentor and coach X3 has. Off the mat, Mike Pryce has pushed me more than anyone else at the gym. X3 really is a family; it shows every single day I walk in the door. The staff knows me, asks about my progress and continually supports me - everyone from the smiling faces at the front desk to Mr. Hoseh who does such a great job keeping the gym sparkling to the operations manager Joel Toledo. 

Kelly doing knee kicks with friend Brandy Nicole.Kelly doing knee kicks with friend Brandy Nicole (right image)

"My best friend in the whole wide world is in Muay Thai. She’s phenomenal and an amazing athlete, her name is Brandy. And Joel Kasik is such a great teacher, a natural leader and mentor who can very quickly figure out what you need to be told to learn. In class, he knows he’s got people of varying abilities and various learning levels, and we all want to be taught differently. I might want to see it, and someone else might want him to explain it. Joel can attune and work with each one of us. We’ve become good friends. He’s an instructor and I enjoy working with him. More importantly, he makes me want to succeed for him. I go into class wanting to work hard because I know he is invested in me as an athlete."

YOU SHARED EARLIER THAT WHEN YOU FIRST CAME TO X3 SPORTS AND TOOK A CLASS, AND THEN CAME IN AGAIN THE NEXT DAY, THE INSTRUCTOR REMEMBERED YOUR NAME. HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOU?

“That made the difference. I probably wouldn’t be here. There’s no possible way he remembers every newbie’s name. And if he does, that’s amazing. It makes you feel like people care about whether or not you’re here. If you work hard, people notice and they keep noticing.”

Kelly with her brother Matt were featured on our website and social media as X3 siblings.

Kelly with her brother Matt were featured on our website and social media as X3 siblings.

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY. WHAT WAS YOUR WEIGHT BEFORE X3 AND WHAT IS YOUR WEIGHT NOW?

"From my heaviest of December 2014, I was 235. And today,  I have lost 33 lbs. I am three pounds away from hitting 199! (Just a few days later in February, Kelly has already surpassed her goal). My weight loss journey has been my entire adult life.

"For me, it’s been particularly emotional because I have a very fit family. My mom and dad are tremendous athletes, as well as my brother, who also is an X3 member. So I’ve always felt like the black sheep. Once I hit that 199, I will be the lightest I’ve been in 12 years. Right now, I’m absolutely the fittest I’ve ever been in my entire life!"

WHAT ARE SOME GOALS YOU HAVE ACHIEVED? AND WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE GOALS?

“They always tell you to take before and after pictures and write down goals. Unfortunately I didn’t do that. I am a journaler, and I’ve been writing down my sports journey while I’ve been here. What’s funny is I have exceeded goals I didn’t even know I’ve made. I remember when I couldn’t do a push-up, or 15 minutes of Muay Thai and I was doubled-over. Now I don’t think about going for 2 hours.

"I'm thankful for X3, the people, and the process and I’m proud of the things I achieved in 2015 - the weight loss, cutting 30 minutes off my half marathon time, increased mobility, and so much more.

"I run tons of races. I counted my medals for fun one day and I have close to 40 medals, and they signify over 500 miles of races. Actually a whole bunch of us from X3 are going to run the Mercedes Benz half marathon in Alabama next month (March 2016).

"My 2016 goals would be to absolutely fight in Muay Thai. We are looking at either May or July! I would love to power clean 150 lbs by the end of July, which should be really attainable. And then to drop 20 lbs to 180. I joke with Mike that afterwards, he can bulk me up all he wants!"

HOW DID YOU GET INTO LIFTING WEIGHTS?

Kelly doing Olympic power lifting, beyond Power Track class."I lifted in high school for basketball. One day working with Mike, he just set up the bar and I just did it. I was like “Whoa, I did that!”, and so was he just as impressed! Mike saw the hungry athlete in me. We started Olympic weight lifting in October and now I can already power clean 130 lbs! I am lifting and doing strength exercises I never in a million years thought I would be doing.

"It becomes so addictive to push your body. Sometimes I have to be careful and pull back and remind myself that my goal is still to lose weight, and not become the next power lifter! When you’re doing power cleans, you feel so powerful and awesome.

"One of the words I feel really passionate about is resilience. That’s my goal in life. That’s my goal with X3. That’s my goal with my fitness journey is to be resilient. I want to be able to be able to weather the things that I know that hopefully 90 more years of life are going to throw at me."

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST UPCOMING MUAY THAI FIGHT. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

"It’s important to me that Joel thinks I’m able to fight. He’ll be the one in my corner when I do fight. My goal isn’t to be X3’s next great Muay Thai fighter. It’s just something that I want to do. I want to step in the ring, whether it’s one time, three times or fives times and compete. I want to be a competitor. I want to know that I did this for myself. And if I lose, I lose. I walk away proud of myself."

  

YOU MENTIONED A QUOTE BY AUTHOR JEFF GOINS: “THERE ARE NO BIG BREAKS. ONLY TINY DRIPS OF EFFORT THAT LEAD TO WAVES OF MOMENTUM.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

"The way that I work is through gleaming inspiration from whether it’s books or other people who are pushing themselves. We are in a culture of instant gratification. Everyone wants everything right now. They think that they deserve it right now. They live hoping that get that golden check in the mail, or something’s going to happen and I’m going to wake up and everything I could possibly want is going to be there. And that’s just not the way it works. Maybe it does happen that way for some people, but I don’t think it’s safe to live your life thinking or feeling like that.

"So as I approach my weight loss and fitness journey and my life here at X3, there are days that it sucks, that hurt, that when I get home, nothing clicks and I think “why did I go to the gym today?” Then I remind myself that it’s the tiny drips of effort, it’s the five minutes of doing the best I can, that eventually create the waves. Think about what waves can do, waves move land. And in my head, I have to remember that coming in doing what I’m suppose to do day in and day out, will initially pay off."

  

IF SOMEONE WERE TO ASK YOU WHAT IS X3, WHAT ARE THREE WORDS YOU WOULD SAY?

  1. "Family – because these people are my family. There are so many people here that I could call at the drop of a dime to come help me if I needed help.
  2. Tenacity – because to train here, you have to be an athlete. And what’s funny, you know who athletes are? Everybody. If you have a body, you are an athlete. They train people here like they’re athletes because we are athletes. So you have to be tenacious about your training.
  3. Resilience - because coming in, working hard every single day, it does make you resilient in life. You think to youself, “if I can take 3 really hard FastTracks one week at X3, I can deal with my angry boss today.”

LAST QUESTION, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THE PERSON YOU WERE A YEAR AGO TODAY?

ss_kelly_animation_instructorKelly goofying around with her Muay Thai instructor Joel (right image)

"I don’t remember exactly, but I’ll you that I was horribly unhappy. I’ll tell you that I’m a much happier person now. Beyond that, one of the coolest things about this journey, is I’m a better person. I’m kinder. I’m gentler and I have a much more open heart and a sincere spirit. And these are things I’ve worked on physically to achieve, and also emotionally. You come in every day and you put your heart on your sleeve. You work as hard as you can. Some days, people look at you and go, “Holy Cow,” some days people look at you and go, “Move out of the way.”

"So, I would say I remember I wasn’t happy. And I will tell you that I am so, so happy with myself and who I am relationally with other people now.


The question is: "Are you happy? And what can you do to change that?" I really felt Kelly's energy and spirit throughout our conversation. This wasn't an interview, but more of a conversation about how X3 Sports changes people's lives. Every day. Kelly's life changed after she became an X3 member. Her investment in X3 Sports is paying off, but more importantly, her investment in herself is priceless.

selfie
Of course, an obligatory selfie with Kelly!

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