From Couch to Cage: How MMA Transformed My Life

Kayla Hamilton is our first MMA fighter in the Your Story series, and I’m so glad to have her. Fighting has always been on my list of “to try” exercises (especially with the reach on these long gangly arms) but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I loved reading about how Kayla was inspired to change by strong women and found her passion to become a strong woman both inside and out. Here’s Kayla’s story.


Before MMA: Looking for a Change

Let’s go back a year ago; I can tell you the exact date. It was July 26th, 2016. I had gone back to my hometown to visit my family, and while everybody else was at work, I was lying on my parents’ couch watching WWE. Now don’t judge, this is an important part of the story.


My favorite, Sasha Banks, was going against the champion, Charlotte, hoping to finally beat her. I had been following these ladies, as they had broken a glass ceiling in a company that treated women as a sideshow until very recently. Sasha, a girl who at ten years old had a dream and was now living it, became the champion that day.

The wave of emotion came crashing down and broke all over me. It was at that moment I realized that I was wasting away. I was 25 years old, and I was not heading in a direction I had ever wanted to go. At that point, I did not even have a vision for the future anymore. I was existing, but I was not living. What was happening to me? Who was I? What happened to the dreamer that I was as a kid? How can I get that girl back? So many questions and all it took was to see another woman achieve her dream for me to say, “why can’t I achieve mine?”

Now, I’m going to go back six months before that to a time where I was just a shell of myself. Through various events, I had fallen out with a lot of my closest friends. My anxiety and depression were crushing me, I was broke, I was injured, and I was in the darkest place I had ever been. 

Discovering MMA

Suddenly, in an impulsive move, I decided my problems would be solved if I moved cities. I moved from my small town of Adelaide and arrived in Melbourne. Melbourne is a fantastic place, but it can also be overwhelming, so by the time I got to July 26th, 2016, I was tired, I was physically exhausted, mentally drained and all that had happened was that my issues had been relocated. I was still lonely; I was still anxious and depressed, still broke and visionless. 

This is what that day, July 26th, 2016 will forever be to me; the day I woke up. I got up off that couch, and I went to the scales. I stepped on, 122.5kg glared back at me. The heaviest I had ever been in my life. Instead of breaking down, I went online and started looking up personal trainers. I was not going to let this break me; I was over being broken. It was time to fix myself.

I got back to Melbourne and quit the jobs that were giving me the most grief. I found a course online I could study that would help me get student payments so I could afford to work less and I went to see the personal trainer that my gut told me too. Since my friend had lost heaps of weight boxing, I thought training with a fighter would be a good weight loss tool. I couldn’t imagine the impact this man would have on my life. 

Luke is an MMA fighter with the most incredible disposition. Through training with Luke, he not only put me through my paces physically, but he taught me mental strength. When I could not get something right, Luke taught me to breathe and to be patient with myself. He taught me that the only way I was going to get forward, was to make sure I look after myself. 

The Road so Far

Right now? Well, one year in and I have lost 25kg’s. I train MMA five days a week, sometimes twice a day. There is a lot to my story, but I only have so many words to explain. The gist of it is this:

Life is not easy. I did not go from broken to fixed in a night. Sometimes I still crash and burn, but through mixed martial arts, I now have the tools to pick myself up again. I am a fighter in my heart and mind, and soon I will be one in the cage. This goal is my focus; not to be skinnier.

The most important lessons I have learned on this journey so far–and I have just begun– is that compassion for yourself is the only way you can move forward in your life and that a strong support system is one of the most beneficial ways you can achieve your goals. Surround yourself by those who are constantly moving forward, and want to take you along for the ride. Be patient as well, because changes do not happen overnight, but with patience and compassion, you will get to where you want to be, and maybe even beyond.

Have any comments or questions about MMA? Comment and say hi to Kayla!