I Tried It

This Philly Kickboxing Gym Believes Everyone Can Learn to Fight

Contributing writer Meghan Peters checks out FightFit FightStrong's approachable classes.


fightfit fightstrong

Michael Sulit opened the boxing gym FightFit FightStrong in April 2018. / Photograph courtesy of Michael Sulit

I first met kickboxing coach Mike Sulit not in a gym but at the birthday party of a dear mutual friend, named Marie. She knew we both had side gigs in the fitness industry and thought we could find some common ground. We chatted about our goals of being able to help all people — no matter their size, age, gender — through fitness. It was nice to meet someone who shared a similar ethos. Even though our first encounter was brief, I got the feeling that Mike truly believed anyone could kickbox.

Because Mike was such a close friend and co-worker of Marie’s, I would hear about him from time to time. One day last spring, she told me Mike had recently left his corporate job to open a kickboxing/fighting gym. I’m always impressed by someone who’s brave enough to follow their dreams, so I gave FightFit FightStrong a like on Instagram and have been following the gym ever since.

When I had the idea to add some new classes to my current workout regimen of yoga and barbell training, FightFit FightStrong immediately popped into my head. I wanted to add more cardio to my life — and Mike had assured me we could kickbox.

I shared my plan with my husband and two friends, and they’re down to join me. Trying new fitness classes for anyone can be nerve-racking, but doing them as a bigger-bodied person can be downright terrifying, so having a crew to come with me is always helpful.

I checked the FightFit FightStrong website to see when we might be able to take a class. There are TONS of class times. The gym offers two group classes, FightFit — its version of kickboxing — and FightStrong, which combines kickboxing and weight training. Here’s the part that sets my heart aflutter with body-positive joy: Both class descriptions note that modifications allow anyone to enjoy the FightFit experience. Lastly, classes are only 30 minutes long. I can survive anything for a half hour…right?

We opt for a 7:30 p.m. Monday FightFit class. Upon arrival, we’re cheerfully greeted by Terri, who checks us in, gets us our rental gloves, and introduces us to Stacey. From here, Stacey takes time before class to review all of the movements we’ll be using. He’s patient, which is great, especially for a gal who’s still trying to figure out her left from her right. Stacey reminds us to make the class our own and, if we need a break, take it. I love that the FightFit team reserves time to brief noobs on what to expect. I’ve had a lot of group class experiences where you’re just thrown into the mix, and you finally pick up the moves after a few weeks. At FightFit, you have an understanding of the class right from the start, which feels really empowering.

Mike finds us as class is about to start. “Marie’s friend! Yoga!” he says by way of reintroduction. “I’m happy you’re here!” The guy is brimming with positive energy; he genuinely seems excited that we’re all there.

We take our places at the punching bags lining the room. Class consists of intervals — punching and kicking combos, jumping jacks, and air squats. Mike calls out combos along with words of encouragement to students. (He knows everyone’s name.) Terri and Stacey are also there to provide support. They keep an eye on everyone (read: us), making sure we understand what’s going on, offering help if not.

Turns out half an hour of kickboxing is no joke. If I was getting paid for sweat, FightFit would’ve made me a rich woman. Yet the class was an enjoyable challenge. After a long day at a 9-6 job, beating the crap out of a punching bag was one heck of a release. We leave feeling ready for whatever the day brings us. I also feel prepared to take another class. I have the tools; now I just need to refine my technique.

When we first met, Mike said he wanted to be able to make a difference in people’s lives through health and well-being. I’d say he’s succeeded. FightFit is just that, a place where all people can go to get fit and learn fighting techniques, all under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable team that wants to help everyone reach their goals.

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