This Thursday September 24th 2015 marks the four-year anniversary of Knockout Women’s Boxing Club. In some ways it feels like it’s been longer and yet it also feels like “holy shit I made it four years!” There have been thousands of women who have walked through my club’s doors over the years and I’ve been blessed to be a part of each of their lives. Some have stayed for months and others for years, but no matter their official membership duration, they are all always Knockouts to me!
Since it’s now been four years since this whole Knockout things started I’m sure there are some of you who don’t know my story or how this all started. So I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and give you the cliff note version of how Knockout and I got where we are today!
I could say it started four years again, but really it’s more like 27 years ago. I was about 8 years old when I first remember telling my family one-day I was going to have a place that helped people. While obviously I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant at that time, I remember truly, deeply believing that even then. As a kid I was always kind of a coach. I would organize my friends to compete in athletic events in my front yard, I bossed my siblings around when I was the teacher while we played school and I always did my own thing.
In 1998 I graduated Downers Grove North High School and started Lewis University. I loved college! I loved learning, my teachers, everything about it. In college is where I found my love of boxing. A friend suggested we go try a boxing club and I thought what the hell. I instantly took to the sport. I was the one of the only girls at this rundown boxing gym in Joliet, IL, but I loved boxing, the club, my coach, my teammates. While it started out as just a hobby and way to stay fit, my coach thought I had some potential and wanted me to fight. I train, sparred and at 20 years old got in the ring and lost my first fight, but I loved it! My coach wanted me to continue and give the Chicago Golden Gloves a try, but I was too busy with school to put in the commitment necessary for that type of competition. So I took a break from boxing and that Chicago Golden Gloves experience would have to come years later.
I finished college and off to graduate school I went at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. While I was studying to be a therapist I got my personal training certification and began working as a trainer to make money while I was in school. I loved being able to help people, but I knew that wasn’t all I wanted from the fitness world. The whole time I was getting my Master’s degree I was trying to figure out how I could blend the too worlds of health/fitness and psychology. I knew there was something missing from the fitness industry and I wanted to use my education to help people in a deeper way while also incorporating movement.
I graduated in 2004 with my Master’s in Clinical Psychology and began my career as a therapist. I sought out jobs that allowed me to work with women around body image, eating issues and health trying to make my dream a reality. I worked in an Eating Disorder Unit, a boarding school for overweight teens, weight loss surgery support group and community mental health center. I felt good about the work I was doing, but there was still something missing.
Since most of my jobs were part time I always had a part time job (or two) as a trainer or fitness instructor to make ends meet. As I worked and tried to find the right place for me I also become a life coach, intuitive eating specialist and researched non-stop how to combine my two loves (psychology and fitness). I knew at some point I’d have to create something of my own, there was no job out there that would fit what I was looking for.
So around 2007 I believe I started teaching some strength and boxing classes at a local martial arts school and got to create my own small little business. I was still working as a therapist, fitness instructor and trainer, but this gave me a start to see the possibilities. After running this little program for about a year and a half, I decided I wanted to try to give this own my own business and manifest my dream thing a whirl. I started to do my research and found a local boxing gym owner that was looking for a partner to come help with the business and ended up in a business partnership. I brought my women’s boxing program over and began co-owning this gym. This was great at first and an awesome start to materializing my dreams, but during the two-year partnership it became evidently quickly that we both were on different pages with most things. I was grateful during the partnership I was able to learn more about running a club, compete again as a boxer and figure out very clearly what I wanted. In 2011, I sold my shares of the company to my business partner and went on my way to create Knockout Women’s Boxing Club.
I was ready to take the leap and make it happen. I had gotten the education, experience, training and know-how I needed to make my childhood dream a reality. I was an amateur boxer with a 8-2 record, 2-time Chicago Golden Gloves Champ, I had my Master’s Degree in Psychology, I had worked in a variety of settings revolving around my niche, I had built my reputation in the community and got clear on what my vision was. I was ready to give this thing a go!
The road to start Knockout wasn’t a pretty one, it was full of bad relationships, stupid business decisions, bankruptcy, losing a house, losing money, losing friends, getting my ass kicked in the ring and learning the hard way, but it all prepared me for the birth of my baby, Knockout Women’s Boxing Club.
The start of Knockout was tumultuous. Dealing with ending a business partnership and creating a new business isn’t easy. There wasn’t much money just a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I worked day and night. I had to make this work; it was all on me. I stumbled, learned from my mistakes and kept my eye on the prize. I remember the first day I opened and thought, “please if at least 10 people come to class I will be okay” and then 20 showed up! I knew everything was going to work out from that day forward.
Slowly but surely Knockout grew. I kept learning about being a business owner, making mistakes and gaining wisdom, trying new things, hiring, firing, and running solo. My mind was and is always flooded with ideas for my vision of Knockout Women’s Boxing Club. If something doesn’t work, I learn from it and move forward, but my mission remains constant from childhood…to create a place that helps people.
I am proud of what I have built. I have hit lots of personal and professional bumps along the way, but it’s only made me and the business stronger. I feel blessed to work with some many amazing women and have an impact on their lives. When I talk to members or read a review they’ve written it makes me feel so grateful. Sometimes I think “wow who would have thought that an 8 year saying one day she was gonna have a place that helped people would really become a reality.”
Today, the gym continues to grow and thrive in a way that four years ago I would have never thought possible. I am committed to providing women with an environment and experience that makes them feel good about themselves inside and out. I am passionate about my cause to rid the world of unrealistic beauty and health ideals and empower women to accept, respect and love themselves. I am more successful personally and professionally today then I could have dreamed of. I have a thriving business that gives me personal satisfaction and financial stability, a loving fiancé that makes me a better person, sweet furkids that fill me with love, and a crazy & awesome family that always has and continues to believe in me 150%!
Life hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows for me, but I never let anything keep me down. Dreams do come true, but you have to give your dreams all you got! No one is gonna do it for you, it’s on you.
The 5 most important things I’ve learned on my journey…
- Surround yourself with good people (and people will come and go, sometimes you have to be the one initiating the good bye)
- When you are focused on your purpose things will fall into place (I’m notorious for worrying about finances after what I’ve been through, but I know that when I keep myself focused on my purpose and vision, everything works out)
- Write things down! (In the beginning I was flying by the seat of my pants, I didn’t have systems and probably worked harder than necessary…now I write everything down, create plans and systems)
- Take breaks! (This one was a recent discovery lol, I’m a workaholic and I love doing what I do, but I get burnt out and thanks to my fiancé and awesome KO Team I have embraced the importance of taking breaks)
- Follow your gut. (It takes some time to hone your intuition, but we all have it. It helps us know things as simple as food preferences to as complex as business decisions, listen to it and move in the direction of your vision)
I am beyond grateful and excited that Knockout Women’s Boxing Club is celebrating it’s four-year anniversary. We’ve come a long way baby! Members and staff have come and gone and each woman that has stepped through my doors has been integral in the success of Knockout! So to every Knockout out there, past, present and future thank you! You are part of a dream, revolution and success story! I hope that my club, my staff and I can provide you with the love, support and encouragement you need to believe in yourself and live the life of your dreams too! Don’t let fear stop you…feel the fear and do it anyways! Life is short, take risks!
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.