A few weeks ago I trained in the classes my interns teach. I did this for two reasons, one to help in my evaluation of their coaching skills, and more importantly to connect with and motivate my members. It’s one thing to get a feel for class looking on from the outside, but it’s another thingSTFU ANDTRAINLIKE A KNOCKOUT to feel it when you are in it!

I had a blast and my interns pretty much kicked my ass! I haven’t boxed in a group or with someone coaching me in quite sometime (like years honestly). It was great to remind myself what it’s like to be part of a group again and how having a coaching can really make you up your game!

During my ass kicking there was something I noticed that I think needs to be addressed to help improve the quality of our training at Knockout which I will get to in a second. 

First, Knockout is based on community; we foster a team-like atmosphere. While our members might not be getting in the ring to fight, they each have their own battles they are fighting and are able to find support and inspiration from other women at the gym. Second, we encourage our Knockouts to socialize and create relationships with each, my interns and me. We believe strongly that the more connected women are to each other, the stronger and healthier they become. Lastly, one of our main goals is to challenge and empower women in order to promote their confidence. We believe in providing adequate challenges for our Knockouts to overcome because this allows them to build their self-trust, confidence and personal strength.

I felt all of that when I was a “member” in classes those two days. I fed off the community to drive me to push harder in my workout. I felt connect to my training partner and others in class, which allowed me to dig deep and challenge myself. I felt challenged and worked to stay focused to get the most from what was being given to me. This brought me back to my fighting days when I was training with my team. I had to push myself, encourage my teammates, stay focused, always work on improving my technique, and bring out the best in myself and others.

So I’m sure by now you are thinking well WTF is wrong then?! What needs to be addressed if you felt was inspired and awesome in class. Well…the one thing that needs to be addressed is the “STFU and TRAIN” mentality that is lacking.

If you don’t know what that acronym stands for, here it is “Shut The F*ck Up”. Yes I know it sounds harsh and that’s usually not my style, but when I was in class it became really apparent to me that while my Knockouts were training hard there was a little too much chatting and distraction going on. We all (including myself) have gotten a little too comfortable and created a training environment that at times isn’t ideal or as effective as it could be.

I’m not saying or writing this to be mean. I am bringing this concept to the attention of my members and anyone out there reading this who is training in any sport because it’s easy to lose focus and get too comfortable. It’s easy to get caught up in the socializing during your workout M.O. It’s normal and important to make connections and friendships at the gym or in your club. These relationships are what keep us coming back day after day. The key is knowing how and when to make the most of these relationships.

And before I get into the “how to”, I want to say this…remember everyone you train with is training for a different reason. We all have different goals, a different purpose and different intentions for boxing (or whatever your sport may be). It’s important that we respect each other’s reasons for being here and remember to “STFU and TRAIN”.

So here’s the deal….

You need teammates and connection! You also need to get the most out of your training mentally and physically! To get both you simply need to realize there is a time and place for small talk and conversations AND there is a time and place for encouragement, focus and cheering each other on. Before your workout and after is the perfect time to get to know your teammates. Talk to your training partner, learn about them and share things about yourself. Find people you can relate to and create relationships that can support you in and out of the gym. During your workout is training time. The way to connect with your training partner during your workouts is by pushing her to keep going, telling her great job, and giving her the opportunity to focus. Sweating, working and pushing through your training sessions is how you connect without saying a word.

Look ladies I am a talker and I LOVE to chat, get know and connect with my Knockouts. I am just as guilty as any member of being distracting during a training session, so I am not bashing anyone here. But immersing myself in the training room as a member really made me realize how the socializing during training sessions is doing a disservice to everyone. We need to all be focused on the task at hand, dig deep, sweat together and connect on a level that can’t happen when we are socializing.

There is something really special that happens when you work hard with your training partner and teammates. There may only be a few small words spoken (“you got this”, “5 more seconds”, “nice hook”, “one more rep”), but in the silence and focus you find a connection only those that have fought battles together know.

Yes you may never get in the ring and go to war with an opponent, but every Knockout contends with her own battles in my club and she needs the opportunity to fight her best! So out of respect for each other let’s make it a point to STFU and TRAIN. I bet your training will improve, your sense of community will grow and you find an inner strength you never knew you had!

Jessica Storch, MA is a boxing coach, personal trainer, health coach and owner of Knockout Women's Boxing Club in Westmont, IL. Her mission is to empower women to be their best through the sport of boxing. She promotes a health focused mentality and encourages women to let go of the diet mentality. Jessica believes weight loss doesn't equal health and works with women to support them in building healthy lifestyles and happy lives.