Fit To Heal By Kay Martinez

Posted by Ilya Parker on

When I’m upset, energy rises inside me. I clench my fists.  I feel rage. I used to head to the gym and run until I couldn’t or lifted heavy weights until my arms shook. I thought this was healthier than throwing things, drinking, or other self-destructive behaviors but, sometimes, I did those things too. Dealing with unpleasant feelings for masculine folks is a complicated process and unfortunately, emotional processing skills in masc communities aren’t often talked about.


However, Ilya’s “Fitness Can Be Used As A Healing Modality” post has really saved me. The post taught me to understand fitness as intentional practices to reconnect with my body and emotions in ways I find supportive and liberating. I’m using this definition of fitness to reconnect with myself while healing from two hate crimes in four months.


I was punched in the face on two separate occasions by two different cis men in two different cities but their motive was the same---they hated my GNC brown existence. I’ve been public about my story and right after the second one, those fights flash-backed in my mind and the rage wave surged. I needed an outlet.   


Because my altercations involved punching, I signed up for boxing workouts at my local Title Boxing Club. I wanted to learn boxing skills to better defend myself since hate crime violence against Trans and Black and Brown people is on the rise globally. I thought these workouts could also help me with my trauma.


Like Ilya said in his post, these acts of hate crime violence made me realize the ways this world seeks to pathologize and remove me from my body. Every time I hit the bag on my first day at boxing, I saw both scenarios and I wanted to cry. Over time, that feeling has subsided but I found myself going to the boxing gym as much as I could -- even going twice a day a few times. I went hard until it hurt.


I asked myself, “what are you doing? Why are you going so hard? What is really going on? What are you trying to achieve?”  I scaled down how often I was going to the gym and I am now going once a day about 5 times a week and doing one 2-a day a week. If I hadn’t checked in with myself and scaled down, I probably would have injured myself and not been on a solid path to healing through fitness like I am now.


I am not working out to achieve a weight or aesthetics but rather,  to give myself a practice which brings me back to my body and helps me confront trauma I compartmentalized. If you’re using fitness like I am as a healing modality, I offer some guiding questions:


-What are you trying to heal from?

-Are there skills you want to learn?

-What kinds of movements will help you connect with your body?

-How will you check in with your body and emotions? Watch out for using your workout to avoid processing trauma.

-Would additional forms of therapy be helpful? Are you able to incorporate other forms of support?


Kay Martinez, is a writer, educator & activist from Boston. Kay has a M.A. in higher education from Boston College. B.A. in history & journalism from Loyola university. Kay has a professional background in diversity & inclusion work.
You can contact Kay here:

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  • Kay,
    Thank you for sharing your story as well as these thoughtful questions / guides. Ilya, thank you for using your page to share others’ stories. Big love & respect!

    Kim on

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