Last Updated on April 8, 2022.
Erika shares her story of how training at Tiger Schulmann’s Brick, NJ, helped her transform her body and skyrocket her confidence.
When I was 13, I had a terrible back injury.
As a very athletic child, it was hard for me to avoid any physical activity and just sit on my couch, eat snacks and watch TV. But eventually, it became my new reality, and weight gain was a side effect of my new lifestyle.
At the age of 18, I tried to work out again. I went to the gym and even tried jogging with my friends, but nothing worked for me. My weight was 189 pounds when I decided never to step on the scale again.
In January 2009, I made a promise to myself: I am going to lose weight this year. Of course, that was the exact NY resolution I made probably three times before, but surprisingly, I managed to achieve it that year.
You may wonder what was different that year: I found something that worked for me.
I was sitting on my couch watching TV like many endless evenings before when I saw a commercial for Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts School (TSMA).
Well, I’ve never tried martial arts before. So why don’t I give it a try? Before I knew what I was doing, I booked my first trial class.
The most significant benefits of joining TSMA
I was very shy as a little girl, and that problem followed me into adulthood. So imagine how I felt joining martial arts school, something that was, in my opinion, too masculine for me.
Yet I fell in love with martial arts and the whole Tiger Schulmann’s family the second I walked in. Everyone was so kind and friendly, the workout was great, and I loved the family atmosphere.
Martial arts are the best physical activity for me. This is where I belong.
By the end of February, I had lost 24 pounds. No crazy diets, only workouts.
Something finally worked for me! I was shocked at what I lost, but also surprised at what I gained: I had never had this much confidence before.
Goodbye, shy girl, welcome, confident young lady.
In March, I decided to join my first 90 Day Challenge.
Not only did I manage to finish the 90 Day Challenge, but losing weight had never felt better: I was in excellent shape.
I was able to move with ease, gained confidence in myself, and finally started coming out of my shell.
Now when I think about it, there were so many benefits joining TSMA, in the areas I didn’t even know I needed.
I met new people, joined a community and even developed enough confidence to make a complete shift in my career, which resulted in me getting a better job.
From 90 day Challenge to North American Grappling Association (NAGA) champion
My second 90 Day Challenge was in 2010. I was even stronger this time, but I still worked extremely hard towards my goal of becoming a better athlete.
One day Sensei Colontino called me and told me I placed 3rdin the 90 Day Challenge!!
I never thought I could achieve that, but the hard work paid off.
That year I also went to my first COC tournament.The final result: 2nd place in grappling!
And that was it. I was hooked.
I spent 7 years participating in different martial arts competitions, but by the end of 2017, I started to have a mental block.
I’m not good enough to compete. Everyone is better than me. Why am I even here?
My head was filled with self doubt and negative thoughts.
What do you do when things get hard? You challenge yourself to change.
And that was precisely what I did.
I started competing in amateur kickboxing and in November 2018, I won my first competition. While I was surrounded by extremely talented , powerful women, I realized I undoubtedly deserve to be there.
I told myself: I am one of them. I am just as talented and capable as they are.
TSMA is not only a martial arts school
One of the greatest benefits I gained from joining TSK is the people I met there. From other athletes who became my friends to the amazing Sensei Colontino.
When I have moments of self-doubt, he encourages me and makes me feel better about myself. He’s always there to get my back.
Nowadays, when I feel scared, I instantly remember him saying: don’t be a pink fuzzy bunny. The pink, fuzzy bunny constantly sits on the couch, complaining about life, and then feels terrible about themself.
Nobody wants to be the pink, fuzzy bunny. It’s funny, now just imagining that pink fluff in my head empowers me to get after it and put the work in to achieve my goals.
I don’t think I could accomplish all that I did without the encouragement and support from Sensei Colontino. He helped me see what I could be and made me believe I could do everything. You don’t develop that kind of personal relationship with the instructor in the gym.
I joined TSMA Brick for one reason, which was to lose weight, and never did I expect the results to transform me completely.
As a woman, I think it’s important to know how to protect yourself, and thanks to martial arts, I’m not scared of walking alone at night. I know I can protect myself in any situation.
I hope to teach my daughter these skills one day.