March 08 2021
Women in Fitness - Kirstie Gannaway
From 8 to 13 March 2021, KYDRA will be donating 10% of proceeds in support of AWARE and the women they support.
In celebration of International Women's Day, KYDRA has partnered with AWARE to put the spotlight on some of the women in fitness.
Today, we speak to Kirstie Gannaway, an ex-MMA competitor for OneFC, a professional boxer and martial arts instructor.
Kirstie Gannaway grew up overweight and avoided sports anytime she could. However, after being introduced to martial arts at the age of 15, she was hooked and has been training hard ever since. Kirstie is currently an instructor at FaMa and represents The Ring as a professional boxer.
We spoke to Kirstie about her journey as a martial artist and what fitness means to her.
The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Kirstie Gannaway and I am half Singaporean, half Australian. I teach Muay Thai to children from ages 4yrs and up, and martial arts style fitness classes to adults.
I am also a professional boxer. I used to compete in MMA, but due to some severe injuries I made a decision to focus only on professional boxing.
How did you start your journey into the fitness industry?
My fitness journey started unknowingly in 2006 when I saw my brother compete in amateur boxing. I saw one of his fights, the following week he brought me to the gym to train with him and I never stopped since - I became obsessed!
That being said I wasn’t into any sports. I was the kid who forged notes to get out of P.E. at school as often as I could.
Why did you choose to do this full time?
From the day I started training boxing, I basically fell in love with it. I suppose my entire life I found fighting fascinating, so when I tried to practise for the first time it felt so right.
I realised quite quickly that training helped not only become physically stronger, but mentally & emotionally stronger as well. I knew it’s something I wanted to continue pursuing and figured I might as well take the risk and chase the dream!
There are many workout types associated with being 'female-friendly'. Why did you choose to specialize in martial arts, especially with fitness being such a male-dominated industry?
I grew up being very close with my brother and was also a tomboy. Whatever the boys did, I wanted to do as well, so being in a male dominated environment never bothered me.
I started because of my brother, and I continued because of my passion for martial arts. I refer to it as martial arts and not ‘fighting’ because fighting is just the physical act. Martial arts, in my opinion, becomes a lifestyle. It often starts with one's pursuit to succeed in the ring (or cage), but ultimately it comes down to your progression and growth as a person.
I believe it was my passion for martial arts that captivated me and kept me going forward, despite the obstacles that I’ve faced being in the industry.
What was the biggest criticisms you've ever received after deciding to pursue fitness full-time. How did you overcome that hurdle?
Being told by my parents that I won’t be able to make enough of an income teaching and fighting was difficult.
When I started the fitness industry was not as developed as it is now, and I knew there was a big risk going down that line. Something I’ve been sure of was that I didn’t want to arrive at a point of my life wishing I did more at a time when I could’ve. And so I decided to take the plunge and just go for it and pursue fighting and teaching.
Over the years in the industry, what were the most fulfilling moments of your job?
One of the greatest things about my job is the positive influence I’ve been able to have on other people. In a lot of ways I was a very problematic child (shout out to my parents for putting up with my brother and I :P) and martial arts became a journey that helped me to discover so much about life and to grow as a person.
Now I am able to teach others and encourage them while they are on their fitness/martial arts journeys and when I see some of the growth and transformations, the feeling is so rewarding.
What do you think of the phrase: "Fight like a girl"?
I suppose it depends on the context and how it’s being said... If it is to insinuate that women are weaker and that the standard is lower, I’m not for it at all.
Something I find tiring is how women are constantly compared to men. There are women and there are men. We each (as a gender) have our strengths/weaknesses and then we each (as individuals) have our strengths and weaknesses.
Rather than the comparison of women to men, I am all about recognising strengths and weaknesses to each their own.
What advice would you give to other women looking to follow in your footsteps?
I would say to trust your instinct.
There will be a lot of mistakes made and opportunities lost to get there, but do your best to learn more about yourself while experiencing those mishaps, so that you will know yourself so well and are able to trust your intuition.