Both of them were new to martial arts when they came to UNSW, but now they run the club!
Winnie: In high school I did a number of sports; netball, basketball, tennis... But when I got into uni I just didn't really feel like doing anything, so I stopped all sports and stuff. But when I got into third year I said to myself 'mmm I need to be active because I'm getting pretty unfit and unhealthy again.' Martial arts had always been on my list and it was just choosing which one to go to. I chose Muay Thai in the end because everyone can learn Muay Thai and I love the idea that they don't have a grading system so everyone is kind of learning together from experience. I love it so much and now I'm the president!
Muay Thai helps me a lot actually. I mean, I'm more disciplined now than I was. I wake up early every day to study, then after study I do a workout and go to uni. If I didn't join a club then I wouldn't be this active and I wouldn't be able to study and exercise at the same time. Actually, let's be honest, without sport I would just be studying every day. So sport plays a very important role in my uni life at the moment. It feels like I have more friends and I'm more active because of Muay Thai.
Esther: I like to think of it as a productive hobby. Instead of watching a million shows on Netflix to procrastinate, I procrastinate by playing sport!
I was never really that active when I was younger. Throughout high school I did a bit of running, but never competitively. It was just for fun. When I got into uni though, I was like 'oh wow, there's so many different clubs!' The problem was that I lived so far away and a lot of classes for the various sports ran in the evening. By the time I would get home it would be really late so it was hard to get myself prepared for the next day, especially if I had to get up early and travel to a 9am lecture!
Since I was like 12 or 13, I've been really interested in combat sports. I would read about those strong independent women in books and be like 'dude, she's not only mentally and emotionally strong, she's also physically strong!'
I've always wanted to try it out, but the trial lessons I had done previously were either too far or required too much commitment. I found the boxing club here through someone I met in first year. I tried that out first and was like 'yeah this is really fun!' I'd never heard of muay thai before, but boxing introduced me to it so I tried that out too. Straight away I was like 'I absolutely love this, because it's not just punching but also kicking.' I was involved in both clubs for a while, but now I'm mainly involved in Muay Thai because I'm on the executive committee.
Winnie: I think a lot of women think that combat sports are more for men and are very aggressive, which makes them afraid to start. It’s really sad to see that because it's really not the case.
Esther: Yeah, there's so many girls in the Muay Thai Club!
Winnie: There's actually more girls than guys! The executive is also dominated by women.
Esther: Other than the trainers and a few others, the rest are all female. It's been pretty good to see that.
Everyone knows uni stress, but how's this for a way of getting rid of it!
Esther: Punching a bag is a really good stress reliever. You can just let all your emotions out.
Winnie: Yeah absolutely. When you do sport you don’t think of anything else. You just focus on what you're doing and you can forget about the stress for a moment.
Esther: Especially with the Muay Thai Club, I definitely feel it's a social club as well.
Even if you come in without having friends there you can make friends so fast, which I've done several times. We have new people coming in all the time and they always fit right in. I guess I think of Muay Thai as a family. Every time I walk through the doors, I know I can leave everything else behind. Everyone is so happy and ready to learn a new challenge together.
Esther: If you want to get involved in sport, have a look around and see what you might be interested in first. Talk to people who are already in the club and find out what it's all about. I did that and it made me feel more comfortable straight away.
Winnie: I think it's also good if you can find a friend to go with you. You can have a support buddy when you first start. It's much more encouraging when you get better at something with another person. You're more committed when someone's counting on you and it's great fun to start something new together.