Once upon a time, George – a 5’10” network engineer who sat in front of a computer all day and a TV all night – weighed in at 265 pounds. On top of being grossly overweight, he was a heavy drinker, and as he neared his 40th birthday, he couldn’t help but worry about his health.
“I was wasting away,” he says. “I really was feeling my mortality. I figured I had to do something, or I wouldn’t last too long.”
Fortunately, George had an angel in his life, who happened to be his wife – and who also happened to be a fitness instructor. George saw first-hand how she had improved her health through fitness, and that inspired him to change.
But he wasn’t sure where to start. “When I was young, I was completely not athletic,” he says. “I never found anything that was engaging.” He was bored out of his mind by the idea of running on a treadmill and couldn’t get excited about going to a gym.
But in October 2010, George found himself sitting at a bar, talking to a friend who was active with Kempo. He decided to give it a shot.
He was apprehensive walking in the door, having not worked out, like, ever. “The first few weeks, I was wondering if I’d survive the workout,” he says. “My body was in shock – a lifetime of sedentary living, and then you kick it into high gear.”
Today, George, 42, is a first-degree brown belt. He is a self-described Kempo addict who trains four nights a week, teaches Kempo through the Instructor Academy and hates missing a class and getting out of his groove. Finally, he has found something he loves doing, and the physical and mental benefits are endless.
Most visibly, George has lost almost 70 pounds – and kept it off. He has much more energy, and these days, his default is to move around rather than sit still. His balance has improved – he sees it in simple acts like putting on his shoes while standing up (before, he would have to sit). And his mental balance has improved considerably.
“When I started, I was a 40-year-old bitter old man,” he says. “Now, I’m a more positive person, and things don’t bother me as much. I realized that human beings aren’t meant to lead sedentary lives. If you don’t have some kind of a physical outlet, your mental and physical states both suffer.”
George now watches what he eats, but the fact is, he is burning so many calories through his workouts that it is impossible to compare his lifestyle today to that during his pre-Kempo days. He says he is doing things now he never thought possible. At a recent Kempo tournament, George participated in a burpees-for-charity event and completed 355 burpees in one hour. This spring, he ran the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler in Washington with no preparation. “If you told me a few years ago I’d be doing that, I’d have thought you were crazy,” he says. “That would have been heart attack material.”
With a background in engineering, George also appreciates the intellectual side of Kempo. Even though it is a physical activity, it requires a lot of thinking – about techniques and movement. “You learn to make your body do things that would seem unnatural to do, so for me, it’s a thought exercise,” he says. “A lot of the forms we learn start off feeling very alien to your body. But it gives you insight into how your body works to produce more powerful strikes and blocks.”
And finally, George loves the group setting and is thankful that he doesn’t have to drag himself to a gym. “We joke,” he says, “group suffering is always better.”Please follow us on. . . . . . thank you!