The Student News Site of Ithaca College

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

Pink Gloves Helps Elmira Girls Build Self-confidence Through Kickboxing

On a Thursday night in Elmira, six girls put on their pink boxing gloves that read “Hit It Hard.” As they assemble behind their teacher in the hot pink workout studio, songs like “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction blast in the background, signaling that their hour-long class is about to begin.

Pink Gloves Kickboxing is a workout class offered at Ultimate Fit Chick in Elmira for girls in grades third through eighth that combines “the empowering activity of kick boxing with positive messages and mindful practices to help young girls develop a strong sense of self.” Owner of Ultimate Fit Chick Jessica Janowsky started the program five years ago after seeing her students in yoga classes at Coburn Elementary School struggling with self-confidence.

“They were very superficial in thinking beauty is only on the outside,” Janowsky said. “They had a lot of issues with dignity and self-respect, not feeling powerful, feeling that they had to be less than what they actually could be just because they were a girl, and that made me crazy.”

Sophia Polise practices kicks with instructor Jessica Janowsky. (Sierra Guardiola/ Ithaca Week)

Janowsky decided that creating a space for young girls to learn about the fundamentals of fitness and kickboxing would offer them tools to become more confident in themselves. She opened Ultimate Fit Chick in 2014 as a space for women to enjoy working out in, so the addition of Pink Gloves seemed like a good fit, she said.

“Because I was already a fitness instructor, I wanted to promote beauty within.”

Her program, which is offered three to four times a school year for six weeks at a time, focuses on helping girls to do their best so they can feel their best. During each weekly session, the girls participate in cardio, kickboxing training, circuit training and meditation.

“When you punch and kick and you’re being very aggressive in that way, you feel very powerful and you feel like you can take on the world,” Janowsky said.

Sixth-grader Kyliah Gross said although she believes she has good self-esteem, she likes how the class incorporates kickboxing and helps her to learn how to defend herself.

“For people who might not have as much self-confidence, it will help them have self-confidence so they can stand up for themselves,” Gross said.

Sixth-grader Kyliah Gross works on circuit training during a session of Pink Gloves. (Sierra Guardiola/ Ithaca Week)

In addition to the physical fitness portion of the class, Janowsky ends class with a meditation circle and a space for the girls to discuss goals they have for themselves in the upcoming week. The girls take turns talking about what they are good at and things they want to try, fifth-grader Meredith Rogers said. Rogers said this gives them the chance to see what they can do to make themselves feel happiest.

While each girl gets the chance to come up with a weekly goal, sometimes Janowsky assigns them “homework” to complete before the next class. Gross said this homework helps relate the things the girls learn in class to their everyday lives.

“We go and we write a couple things we like about ourselves or go to school and tell someone something good about them, or just going an extra step and just being nice to someone,” Gross said.

The meditation technique varies week by week, but at the Oct. 17 class each girl meditated with a rock quartz in their hands. Janowsky guided them through the steps of finding their happy place and then asked them to switch the rock over to their other hand after the meditation was completed to see if anything seemed different about them. Each girl noticed that the rocks felt warmer, to which Janowsky replied happiness had been created.

“Can you imagine what we can do when we take our happiness and warmth to other people?” Janowsky asked. “The more you can stay happy, positive and kind, think of the world you can create.”

The girls use kickboxing gloves during class that read “Hit it Hard” on the inside of each hand. (Sierra Guardiola/ Ithaca Week)
Leave a Comment
Donate to Ithaca Week

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ithaca College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Ithaca Week

Comments (0)

All Ithaca Week Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *