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Brittany Gorham, once a self-professed homebody, never would have thought that she’d fight one day but the community at the gym opened up a whole new world for her. Brittany is 31 years old, works for an insurance company, and enjoys running and gardening. She’s also an advanced Muay Thai student at the Cellar Gym, and she stepped into the ring for the first time last summer at the largest Muay Thai tournament in North America.

Brittany’s martial arts journey is one of expanding horizons, pushing physical limits, and stepping out of the comfort zone. She grew up watching anime and playing piano for fun, but never played sports or participated in athletics. When she graduated from college and got her first full-time job, she noticed that she’d started to gain weight. One day, she realized that she’d fallen into an unfulfilling routine. She’d recently bought a 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and every night after work, she’d go home to her apartment, work on the puzzle, and watch TV. When the puzzle was finished, she knew that it was time to get out and do something!

Brittany wanted to find a way to exercise, but she’d never been able to stick to the standard fitness routines filled with weight lifting and cardio machines – she wanted to find an active hobby, not just a workout! Years earlier while in college, she’d read an article about The Cellar Gym and decided it was time to give it a try. She immediately loved what the Cellar had to offer, and she started regularly taking dance classes at the pole studio also located there at the time. Soon, though, she realized that she loved kickboxing the most, especially learning how to throw kicks and elbows. She already felt healthier and happier just attending class a few days a week, and she decided to dedicate herself to the kickboxing and Muay Thai program.

Brittany says that while she initially felt shy working out with a group of people, all of her new teammates at the Cellar were so friendly and social that she quickly felt at ease and made lots of new friends.

“I thought I would only ever be friends with people that were like me, but there’s so many different kinds of people here. There’s students, there’s people in the medical field, there’s people working blue collar jobs, there’s all sorts of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, former athletes, current athletes, people that basically have never exercised before in their life. And everyone comes together and gets along really well.”

Although she was training at the Cellar for fun, after a few years Brittany decided she wanted to push herself harder. She saw her friends improving their skills by leaps and bounds while sparring or getting ready for a fight, and she decided it was time for her to take that leap herself. “I thought it would be too hard, but I knew I didn’t want to hold myself back by avoiding those hard or scary things,” she recalls. “And in the end it turns out you just get used to them. It seems hard at first, but the only way to get better at it is to just keep doing it.”

Brittany took her first big step into the ring for a smoker fight in the spring of 2018. A few months later, she competed at the TBA Muay Thai Expo in Des Moines, as one of over 700 fighters from around North America. Brittany says that her journey at the Cellar has made her a more resilient person and taught her to never underestimate herself! “I’ve learned a lot about what I think I can do versus what I can actually do, and learn how to push through a lot of the really difficult times,” she says. “I never thought that I could do those things before.”

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