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Ladies of Muay Thai: Kerry Hugill feeds the fire within as she preps for fight night

Meet Kerry Hugill. She’s a graphic designer and illustrator by day and also lectures and manages a design college. But at night (at least on week-day evenings) she likes to kick butt and take names at True Muay Thai in Cape Town.

After joining the gym to firm up her soft bits and start feeling good in her own skin again, Kerry is about to take a step up in her Muay Thai career by competing at the Ultimate Warrior Fighting Championship in Cape Town on 27 April. As a naturally competitive person who likes to test her skills and abilities, Kerry says this was a natural progression for her. Get to know this lady of Muay Thai in our exclusive interview.

All about Kerry

  • Born: Durban
  • Lives: Cape Town
  • Qualifications: BA in Visual Communication
  • Occupation: Graphic Designer and Illustrator
  • Age: 36
  • Height: 168cm
  • Weight: 58kg
  • IG: @kerryhugill

How Kerry likes to work up a sweat

What do you do on the tough days, when motivation levels are low? There are definitely days like that! Having a fight in just a few weeks keeps me motivated – I want to give it my best shot on the night, and part of that is making sure I’m constantly learning, growing and getting fitter.

Do you change your approach to training from time to time? Yes, sometimes we’ll do bag or pad work, sometimes focus on technique and skills, and then of course practice sparing!

What workout or types of training are you loving right now? Right now I’m enjoying pad work, and the basics like sit-ups and squats.

What’s your toughest workout? Sparing with a variety of partners for almost an hour can really take it out of you. Personally, I also hate push-ups.

What’s your weekly training split? I train Muay Thai and basic fitness from Monday to Friday and take weekends off.

What other types of training do you do? I’ll go for the occasional run.

Kerry’s approach to nutrition

Do you get help from a nutrition coach? Our coaches are always available to give advice, but mostly I work on my diet independently.

Do you eat the same food on the days you don’t train as in the day days you do? On days when I train, I tend to eat slightly more, particularly fats and proteins to keep my energy up. Some days I devour an entire burger and fries!

What have you found has been the easiest way to stick to a diet, other than sheer will power? I really love food, so I struggle with eating part, but what I’ve found helps is seeing the results. Seeing my weight drop, muscle definition slowly coming to the fore – that feels good, and it keeps me heading in the right direction.

What does your average diet consist of? I mostly follow a vegetarian diet as I just can’t give up cheese! I’m not strict about it though, and every now and again will happily scoff a burger or chicken curry. Otherwise, I eat lots of nuts, fresh ingredients and non-processed foods.

How would you define a healthful diet? I would say focus on natural ingredients and portion control rather than depriving yourself. I also don’t believe in putting so much pressure on yourself that you become unhappy or stressed out. I suppose it’s as they say, it’s all about balance.

Kerry’s nuggets of wisdom

What is the best piece of health and fitness-related advice anyone has ever given you? You’re only cheating yourself.

What approach did you follow at first that may not have worked? I tried to cut my calorie intake way, way down and that was a disaster.

What was it that finally made you decide to make a change to your training/diet approach? I was very unhappy with the way I felt and what I was eating. It wasn’t at all right for me.

What did you learn from the experience? To trust yourself, and what your body is telling you.

What does ‘balance’ mean to you in the context of your lifestyle? To me, it means putting in hard work so that I can achieve work and training goals, but also still enjoying what I’m doing and spending time with the people that make me happy.

How do define success? I think that can mean a lot of different things but after years of being a high-achiever, for me, it’s come to mean feeling confident, comfortable and happy in who I am, where I am, and feeling like I have a place in the world.

What has been the best investment you’ve made into improving your health or physique? Signing up for True Muay Thai!

Life outside the gym

When you’re not training, what do you spend the most of your time and your money on? With my family, and camping trips!

What’s your greatest ambition in life? It sounds cheesy, but I want to feel like I made the lives of the people around me better. Whether it’s taking a moment to listen to them when they need it, or dance with them or simply talk to them. I would like to be remembered as somebody who was always rooting for, and supporting others.

Any parting thoughts? I think that even though you’re training, you still want it to be fun. Sure, there’ll be tough days when you’re grumpy and tired and bored, but as long as most days are still fun and you enjoy it, I’d say keep up the training, or find something new to switch it up a bit!

Quick facts:

  • Favourite music to train to? Something loud with a good, strong beat.
  • Favourite exercise? Core training and stretching.
  • Favourite cheat meal? Pizza and burgers.
  • What do you do to relax? Watch series and go camping.
  • What’s in your gym bag? My gloves, gum guard, wraps, water and plasters!

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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