For the second blog post of my POWERFUL WOMEN series, I have special guest who enjoys breaking all kinds of stereotypes.
I met Kat at a business women get together event at the beginning of the year and her story inspired me from the very moment we spoke. She is a a fighter turn businesswomen and at the young age of 28, she inspires her 50K Instagram followers with nothing but positivity.
When did you first start training Muay Thai?
I actually started training Muay Thai by accident, I think it might have been around 5 years ago. I had been doing the ‘boxing fitness’ classes and ‘body combat’ classes at David Lloyd when I wanted something a little more so I decided to attend a local martial arts gym for a ‘kickboxing’ class… but I got the times wrong and missed the kickboxing class and found myself in a Muay Thai class instead! There’s something much more exciting about Muay Thai being able to use your knees and elbows.
What is it that made you fall in love with it?
I honestly don’t think that there’s any other kind of cardio that compares to Muay Thai, it just pushes your body and mind to the limit! You really can’t beat it for an exhausting but fun cardio workout. I also love the discipline within the sport and the dedicated and inspiring people I’ll meet through the gym.
Were sports always an important part of your life?
From my teens going to the gym was always a big part of my life. I have always found that during harder times in my life, the gym was always there to give me a focus and make me feel better.
Where did you nickname ‘Barbie girl ‘ come from?
My Muay Thai Coach Kenny from Kenshiro’s in Brighton gave me the nickname. For me, it shows that just because you look a certain way it should not limit what you want to do or what you are capable of.
You call fighting your therapy. Could you elaborate on how Muay Thai helps you with your mental health?
I think that any exercise definitely helps with mental health because you automatically feel good when you train and your body releases endorphins - the feel-good hormones. But I feel that combat sports such as Muay Thai definitely take it to the next level of feeling good and reducing stress. I think when you are sparring someone, there’s absolutely nothing else on your mind apart from being in the moment, and I think these days this rarely happens but we need it to happen in order to feel stress-free and lighter. I won’t be thinking about business, work, money, relationships or anything else whilst training Muay Thai. It’s good to give your mind a break.
Did you find that you were being treated differently as a fighter because you were a woman or did you find the industry being inclusive and supportive of everyone?
I mean, the first martial arts gym that I trained at, actually laughed at me when I told them I wanted to fight… I think there can be a lot of stigma against women who want to fight, especially if you don’t look a certain way.
But luckily I found Kenshiro’s Muay Thai where if you train hard and work hard, you will be taken seriously as a fighter regardless of your sex. And that’s how it should be! Women’s MMA (mixed martial arts) is growing rapidly.
What is your best advice to young women who want to get into Martial Arts?
Just go ahead and turn up at your local Martial Arts gym, if you don’t like the vibe there, keep trying until you find a gym where you feel a good vibe. You definitely won’t regret doing it! Also, it could take a while for you to feel comfortable training, but you really have to keep up at it and in the end, it will be worth it.
Following the recent article from the BBC regarding female athletes struggling to deal with periods when completing, what are your thoughts on this? Is this something you have experienced?
For me, when dieting for fights, periods definitely make it harder because they make you want to eat all the chocolate! They also make you weaker when training but I think it’s something I’m just used to dealing with every month now, and I’m happy that I have periods again because I did lose them for around a year when I was competing in bodybuilding competitions.
Where does your fighting career stand now?
I’m just training to keep fit at the moment and for fun. I would love to fight again in the future, but at the moment my main focus is on my new businesses, which keeps me too busy to commit all of my extra time on preparing for a fight.
You have also now started your own business called The Vape Bar. Tell us more about your business journey and why you decided to start it?
After my good friend's dad died from lung cancer, probably bought on from smoking, I just realised that everyone who smokes should really quit and if they can't quit than they should vape instead. When cancer research UK and the NHS backed vaping as a way to quit smoking, I just wanted to get behind the cause and spread more awareness for vaping.
I’d also seen people within the MMA industry vaping CBD so I decided to research into this more and found CBD to be helping lots of people around the world with various different problems.
Your big focus is on CBD oils. Could you tell us more about it and why you believe in it so strongly?
CBD is part of the cannabis plant, which we have known for years as having natural healing properties. CBD does not have THC in which is the element in cannabis that makes you ‘high’. So users can use CBD and gain health benefits without any psychoactive effects.
CBD is an anti-inflammatory so it helps with inflammation which is why a lot of people in the fitness and MMA industry are using CBD to help with recovery and injuries. People are also using CBD to help with insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain and a natural alternative to pain relief.
I’m passionate about promoting CBD and it’s many benefits because it’s helping myself, close family members and many customers.
What do you think makes a woman POWERFUL?
I think any woman can be powerful as soon as she realises that she does not need to act in a way in which people expect her to. All she needs to do is exactly what she wants to do. I think you are your most powerful when you understand you do not need the approval of others.
Kat's Instagram ⁃ https://www.instagram.com/katfreemanfitness/
My Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/iam_olajohnson