This guest post is from Becca Borawski,the managing editor of Breaking Muscle – “Breaking Muscle specializes in Olympic lifting, powerlifting, functional fitness, yoga, and mind/body modalities.”
When I was in graduate school I was really into video games. Like, REALLY into videogames.
The year was 1998 and I was a graduate student at the USC film school. My boyfriend, friends, and I were all teaching assistants in the sound department. Aside from being members of the premier film school in the country, being a TA meant we received help with tuition, a monthly stipend, and most importantly – a key to the facilities.
And what was the best part of 24/7 access to the film school? Working on endless projects? Beating out other students to the coveted, constantly-booked editing bays? No. We wanted on the mixing stages after hours.
We wanted to play Mario Kart in 5.1 on the big screen.
So there we were at two in the morning, our feet propped up on the mixing console, soda in hand and boxes of cookies everywhere around us. This might have been how the rest of my life went – dark rooms, bad food, and loud noises – had I not fallen in love with Seung Mina.
The hot new game on the Dreamcast was Soulcalibur and I wanted to be Seung Mina. I had long secretly been fascinated with martial arts, but this weapon of her, the naginata, was too enticing to pass up.
I researched martial arts and tried to find a naginata instructor in the Los Angeles area. There was only one and she was an hour away. I decided to go for the next best thing and find a stick-fighting instructor. I ended up stumbling into the art of Shintaido and thus began my study of martial arts.
Over the ensuing years, my love of martial arts would prove to be no less obsessive than my love of video games, just slightly healthier. While I graduated from USC and had a blossoming career as a music editor, I also moved from Shintaido to Wushu and Tai Chi, and then to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.
For the first time since childhood, I was regularly active and fitter than I’d ever been. Wherever I was studying, I would show up consistently and eagerly. By the time I took up BJJ, I showed up every single night to class at Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet and knew the techniques by heart.
But somehow I still wasn’t strong and I still ate crap.
It was the end of my third BJJ tournament that things took another turn. It was the third time I had shown up and lost my matches. My fourth place medals were simply for being the fourth and final girl to show.
“You’ve got to get strong,” Eddie implored. “You know the techniques, maybe better than anybody, but you’ve got to figure out how to get strong.”
A teammate of mine mentioned a website called CrossFit. Then a friend of mine, John Hackleman, told me he was involved in CrossFit. I try not to take things like that in life as coincidence, so I decided to research it myself. I went to the website. There were only ten schools in the whole world. One of them, Petranek Fitness (later renamed CrossFit Los Angeles) was one mile down the street from me. Another “coincidence” not to be ignored.
As Andy Petranek, owner of CrossFit LA tells it, I showed up in my Full Contact Fighter hoodie and my big gym bag, refused to make eye contact with anyone and barely uttered a word. As I remember it, I had never worked out so hard in my life and couldn’t figure out how to walk down my front steps the next day, I was so sore. Either way, we became a part of each other’s daily lives for the next seven years.
Not only did I fall in love with CrossFit, I eventually put martial arts on the back burner to become a CrossFit coach, then later the Program Director and Kids Program Founder at CrossFit LA. I left my job in the film and television industry and instead of dark rooms, bad food, and loud noises, I spent my days in the brightly-lit gym, preaching the ways of Paleo and rejoicing in the grunts, groans, and cheers of my students of all ages.
Of course there are a million things that contribute to where we end up in life. Big things and small things converge to influence us, mold us, and guide us towards our authentic selves. But, for me, I think it all changed the day I decided to finally act on my secret love of martial arts. For me, it all started with Seung Mina.