Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
Communications Consultant
Specializing in Thought Leadership and B2B/B2C Marketing Communications

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Time Out for Taekwondo: How to Schedule Training Time
ATA World, Summer, 2006
by Susan T. Lennon

Busy women wear hats galore, juggling multiple roles: mom, coworker, spouse, boss, friend, churchgoer, daughter, student and more. Adding a dobok (taekwondo uniform) and a belt to the mix may seem unthinkable. But finding time for Taekwondo is worth the effort.

Just ask Stacie Moultrie, 38, who began training in 1999. “I was looking for a way to get some exercise, and had a free certificate,” she explains, chuckling while she changes clothes, fixes dinner-to-go, and gets ready to pick her two sons up from school. “I started going to class, added running, lost 65 pounds, and found so much energy!”

Moultrie, a 3rd Degree Black Belt, is a single parent and computer analyst at the University of Arkansas. “I just found that I liked it so much, I simply made the time to do it.”

Also certified in ground fighting and kickboxing, Moultrie has been among the top ten in her division at the Worlds for the last four years – and she’s the secretary of the Real Rock Ryders of Little Rock motorcycle club as well as choir director for her church. Plus, she opened her own school, Moultrie’s ATA Black Belt Academy, in November. “It’s just something I wanted to do, so I did it!”

Many women dread exercising, thinking of it as one more chore on the “to do” list. But Moultrie offers a different view. “Realize that working out is something GOOD! Become inspired – it makes you live longer and feel better.”

And Taekwondo has advantages over other forms of exercise.  “I really encourage women to get into it,” Moultrie says, “because this is something we can take with us. If a big burly guy comes up on you, you can get away.”

How does she fit it all in? Like a skilled martial artist, she’s tactical, strategic, and she goes with the flow. Keeping a regular schedule and using a date book is vital. “The boys are in bed every night by 8:00 – that gives me some ‘me’ time to prepare for the next day,” she explains, “and I’m asleep by 11:00.” Up at 5:45 A.M. to start her work day an hour later, Moultrie says that she gets her “third wind” from her evening Taekwondo routines. “Since it’s a complete workout - both physical and mental,” she says, “it’s a great stress reliever – it give me energy!”

As long as she’s getting her work done, Moultrie’s employer doesn’t mind if she flexes her schedule. “I live five minutes from work, so I come home for lunch, take care of chores, and prepare meals – I like us to eat healthy.” She and her sons, who are ten (brown belt) and six (white belt), eat their home-cooked dinner at the do-jahng. “Taekwondo is a family affair for us. We all pitch in together, and that helps, too.”

Kelli Shoup is a testament to Taekwondo as a family affair. Watching her mom punch and kick when she was two years old, Shoup joined her at the do-jahng at age five. Now a 5th Degree Black Belt, Shoup, 30, is the busy mother of a 1-year-old son who already knows how to bow. Her mom, a 6th Degree Master, owns two schools near Chicago, and Shoup is a full-time Taekwondo instructor, teaching in Darien and Homewood, IL.

Your choice of school can make a big difference in how you fit training into your life. “It’s important to select one that is close by, especially one with morning and evening classes, that will allow you some flexibility,” Shoup explains. Shoup’s students include a flight attendant, a doctor, and a CEO, who are sometimes on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If they couldn’t keep in contact with work, they wouldn’t be able to come to class. So, Shoup makes allowances for them. “I don’t mind if they bring their pagers and cell phones to class – I’m just happy they’re there!”

If you are a parent, be sure your academy welcomes children – so that you can train together and meet other moms wearing a dobok and a belt along with their many hats. To encourage this, Shoup allows kids to come and play while their parents are in class.

Shoup stresses that “Taekwondo is all a matter of priorities – if you can find the time to do another exercise, you can find the time to do this.”

Often, women don’t start training because they think they don’t have time. But once they’re reaping the benefits, it’s rare for a woman to quit. “I have a group right now who’ve all joined in the last six months, they all have kids who were taking Taekwondo … they all encourage and support each other.” Plus, their in-class camaraderie extends beyond the do-jahng. Actively enjoying each other’s company, they practice together, helping one another make up missed classes, work on techniques, and have fun in the process. In Taekwondo , social life, family life, and fitness complement rather than compete – creating harmony, balance and flow.

As Stacie Moultrie says, “I have a very busy life, but I love it.”

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