Atascadero News photo courtesy of Lauryn Francisco • Lauryn Francisco punches and kicks stuff to relieve stress. Kickboxing has become a big part of her life.
The act of living life — going to work, raising a son and being married to a soldier — can be stressful. It can, day in, day out, become a grind. When Atascadero resident Lauryn Francisco’s cup gets full, she does the reasonable thing. She punches and kicks stuff.
“[Sports] have always been an important stress reliever for me,” she said.
Francisco is a kickboxer, and has been since accidentally attending the wrong class at Kennedy Club Fitness in Atascadero. She began setting up a step for a step aerobics class, but she was alone in her preparations. She said she stood up and asked another participant what was going on. The answer was “kickboxing.” With a shrug, Francisco put her step away and took the kickboxing class. What else was she going to do with the time?
She liked it.
“I never left,” she said. “I went back every week.”
Francisco said she was always active as a youth. She attended North County Christian School where she played volleyball, basketball and, briefly, softball.
“I rode horses and showed dressage when I was younger,” she added.
In college, her sports playing tapered off, but she continued being involved by acting as a scorekeeper and gym monitor. As a gym monitor, she said, she essentially got paid to play basketball with the students who would show up late in the evening.
She also participated in city league softball for some time, but it’s a rough and tumble game, and she got tired of coming home with her legs covered in bruises.
Staying fit, Francisco said, is important to her, and she’s always spent a lot of time at the gym. She said she loves the full-body cardio workouts she can get from the cycling classes and swimming. But she absolutely fell in love with kickboxing.
“After starting kickboxing, I’ll never go back,” she said. “There’s no other workout I know of that’ll get you in as good a shape.”
When Kennedy began a mixed martial arts class, Francisco jumped at the chance. She said it was a full-contact class, though everybody wore gloves.
The class came to an end in March 2011, but Francisco keeps it up, unofficially, with her friend Sharon. The two will occasionally hit each other, Francisco said, but mostly, they concentrate on the heavy bags. Francisco likes her ears and her nose just the way they are, and besides, getting hit hurts.
All of which adds up to Francisco having no intention of competing, professionally or otherwise. On the other hand, she said, “I like to think if someone attacked me, I could kick some booty.”
The main point of kickboxing for Francisco is the health benefits.
Francisco has a desk job — Chuck Braun’s State Farm Insurance in Atascadero. She’s also on the North County Young Professionals and Colony Days boards. She’s also a new wife to Garrett, and the couple will celebrate their first anniversary in September. And she’s also got to keep up with an 8-year-old son, Jayson, a third-grader at San Benito Road Elementary School. She even has a Chinese exchange student.
“I work out on my lunch breaks a lot,” she said.
Jayson, by the way, was inspired by his mother’s kickboxing and is now a student at Ken Yu Kan Karate School in Atascadero. The time he’s in his lessons are another good opportunity for her to go show a heavy bag who’s boss.
Francisco doesn’t have a lot of gear. Kickboxing — especially the kind where you don’t get punched in the face — requires little more than wrist wraps, gloves and clothes that give a full range of motion. Though she said her partner brings extra gloves for the times they can get a friend to join them.
“That’s about it,” she said. “People come with us, but they never come back. They hate us. True story.”
But, she added, that’s OK. Folks don’t need to kickbox if they don’t want to. There are so many good sports out there, there’s something for everyone.
“Get out and try something,” Francisco said. “Take a cardio class, it’s the best bang for your buck. … Don’t be afraid.”