The Queens Experience

The Queens Experience

Jiu Jitsu came into my life as I was at a crossroads.  I joined Checkmat Charlotte about three months after moving to Charlotte knowing no one but my sister.  As a remote employee, I worked from home every day and felt extremely isolated after my move. I would finish working for the day and ask myself “now what?”  I took stock of the things missing in my life: friendships in a new city, physical activity, an outlet for my competitive nature, a sense of community and a coping mechanism for daily job and relationship stress.  I chose Jiu Jitsu thinking I would be crossing off one or two items from my list - get a good work out in, maybe make a friend or two. I researched every gym in the city. I looked at websites, read reviews, scrolled through instagram pages, and finally found myself walking in the door at Checkmat Charlotte.  I was nervous. I sat in the waiting room before Queen’s class and asked my new teammates for advice. As a white belt, “just survive” I was told. After training on a daily basis for about 9 months, it still surprises me that I found everything I was looking for in one place, and yes, I did survive.

 

I had always wanted to try Jiu Jitsu and after competing in multiple other sports through my childhood and early adult life, I knew I was looking for an activity with an active amateur competitive scene.  What I didn’t expect was to find a training environment that would challenge and push me to step outside my comfort zone and be ready to face my first tournament just a couple short months after my first class.  I surprised myself by winning silver, and have gone on to participate in 8 more tournaments since then. Being able to test myself and see my hard work pay off has been an extremely rewarding experience, but what I love most about competing is having specific goals to work towards and motivate myself, push myself to work harder, and continue stepping outside my comfort zone. Better yet, being part of a team that supports each other has given me a strong sense of community that I had never experienced before.

 

At 27 years old, I have been part of numerous female focused communities.  I attended an all girl’s high school where I was on numerous sports teams. In college I was in a sorority, and a member of several women in technology groups.  Nothing really clicked for me like the community I found in Queen’s class. We have gone on so many adventures together, from group road trips to attend seminars and traveling to Las Vegas to compete at Worlds, to impromptu waffle nights and shenanigans before the 6 am class that make waking up at 5:30am worth it.  Beyond that, the friends and support system I found empowered me to make some difficult life decisions that I ultimately benefited from. The women of Checkmat have experienced a lot of life together. There have been many highs and lows, wins and losses, and we have pulled together to support each other through it all.

 

It sounds crazy to say I found all this from picking up an after work hobby in my late 20s, but it really is wild to think about how different my life is today compared to a year ago when I moved to Charlotte and didn’t even know there were two 6 o’clocks in one day.  I’m grateful every day for the friends I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned and the supportive role models I’ve found at Checkmat Charlotte.



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