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Meet Darcie: Women’s 2nd Place National Challenge Winner

Kickhouse Kickboxing National Winner

In January, KickHouse hosted the 8-week Kick 2020 Goodbye Challenge. This Challenge pushed members to embrace the uncomfortable and unleash their inner resilience. With great success across the country, six winners were chosen overall based on their physical and mental transformations. The winners not only took home cash prizes but confidence in themselves that they can kick it up a level. KickHouse had the chance to ask these winners a series of questions about their experience with the KickHouse Challenge. Darcie McClelland from KickHouse Yorba Linda, our women’s 2nd place national challenge winner, took home $5,000! 

Meet Darcie and read about her takeaways from the KickHouse Challenge:



1. The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding shut-downs were difficult for many. What additional obstacles did you face in 2020?  

“2020 was a really rough year for me health-wise. I started the year with a nasty combination of mono and pneumonia that kept me in bed for most of January, February, and the early part of March. Then, just when I was feeling better and getting back to being myself the pandemic lockdown happened. Because working out is a huge part of how I manage my anxiety disorder and improve my mental health, I actually found a personal trainer willing to come and work out with me at a nearby park for the months of April and May. I was back in a normal-ish routine for summer and fall, and then contracted Covid in December and spent that entire month in bed as well. So, all told, I spent about 3 1/2 months of 2020 sick in bed.

In addition to my health struggles, work was very challenging in 2020. I am a biology professor at a community college in the LA area and am also the president of our college’s Academic Senate which is the body that represents faculty in campus-level decisions (for simplicity, I’m the president of the faculty at my college).

The combination of having to move instruction online and then a few weeks later grappling with a nationwide racial/social justice awakening and a call to focus on equity work like never before created huge amounts of stress and required me to lead our faculty through truly unprecedented times. The changes that are resulting from the increased awareness about equity issues are amazing and I’m really proud of a lot of the work we’ve done in the last year, but it’s been extremely difficult and has required an insane amount of time and effort and a lot of hours spent in really brave, uncomfortable spaces.”


2.  What inspired you to join KickHouse and what made you join the Challenge?

“I’m an OG member of KickHouse. I divorced my ex-husband in 2016 after having been with him for a decade and suddenly I found myself having to rediscover who I was as a person without the relationship that had defined so much of my identity for almost my entire adult life. 2016 was also my first year at my current job, the tenure-track faculty job that I had spent 7 years of grad school and 2 years as a post-doc preparing for. So, it was a year of tremendous growth and change in my life.

As I began to focus on personal wellness and finding myself, I pushed myself to work out at least 5 days a week (I’m a former NCAA softball player so I had been an athlete for most of my life but had just gotten lazy while trying to finish my Ph.D. and be a wife). I started with exercise videos at home and when I felt like I needed more, I saw an advertisement and decided to try kickboxing because it seemed like a fun, challenging way to work out and was close to my home.

I loved the workouts and the coaches and other members became my true friends, so I’ve been a member ever since. In 2018 I moved from Corona to Anaheim and transferred my membership to the Yorba Linda location, where I quickly found the same warmth and family feel I loved about the Corona location. I love the people and the intensity of the workout, so when the franchise changed I learned to adapt to the new style of class.

I love the family feel and the fact that I can get a really intense workout in only 30-45 minutes. I’ve met so many friends at KickHouse and it’s helped me to gain confidence in myself and transform my body into a shape I’m proud of.

I might just be the world’s most competitive person, so anytime there’s something I can compete to win, Voula knows to come find me. I’d won a free year membership in a similar in-studio transformation challenge in 2019, so I knew I could compete. Additionally, as I mentioned above, I’d just come off a month of being bed-ridden with Covid, so I was carrying around an extra 15-20 pounds that I knew I needed to lose. Thus, the challenge came at the perfect time for me so when Voula asked me about it, I immediately told her to sign me up. There’s no feeling quite like the high of winning for me and it was a great excuse to get back to the healthy habits I was in before I got sick.”


3.  How was your experience during the 8-week Challenge? Highs and lows?

“The challenge was intense. In addition to doing 5-6 KickHouse classes a week, when the challenge began I was working out with my personal trainer twice a week, walking my dogs every day, and doing Yoga first thing every morning when I woke up. I cut out all non-natural sugar, processed food, complex carbs other than sweet potatoes, alcohol, and eating out (other than at health food restaurants) for the entire 8 weeks. Also, I also drank nothing but water, protein shakes, and green tea.

I did InBody analysis every two weeks and my low point was at week 4 when despite all of my hard work I had actually lost a pound of muscle over the previous 2 weeks. Additionally, I called my trainer in tears and he told me I needed to double the amount of strength training I was doing, cut back on cardio, and eat more protein to replace body fat with muscle (at this point I was down to 21% body fat and struggling to lose more).

So, I switched to doing only CircutKick classes at KickHouse, increased my trainer workouts from 2 days a week to 4, and committed to eating 180g of protein a day, which necessitated a protein bar or shake every 2 hours no matter what I was doing (yes, I was the girl packing protein bars and powder in her purse so that I could eat that while my friends enjoyed whatever was at the party/restaurant/etc.) and taking 3-4 supplements to help with muscle building.

Over the next two weeks, I lost 6 pounds of fat and gained 3 pounds of muscle, dropping my body fat to 17%, the lowest it’s ever been. That Saturday I wore an outfit to the class that I’d bought on Black Friday as a reward to myself for having won the in-studio November class challenge (I went to 33 classes that month or something like that) but had never worn because by the time it shipped I was in bed with Covid and once I got healthy it didn’t fit and I wouldn’t allow myself to wear it until it fit properly.

I was telling the story about why it was special that I’d finally worn it and Izzy, one of our rockstar instructors at KickHouse Yorba Linda, starts saying “goal clothes Darcie’s wearing her goal clothes” and had the class cheer for me. That was my high moment of this challenge.

Also, showing up on that last day to weigh out knowing I’d done my very best and absolutely killed it made me feel great. Voula was almost in tears showing me my before and after pics and that just made me really proud and also happy to represent the studio well because everyone there has such a huge positive impact on my life and my mental health.”


4.  How do you feel kickboxing has impacted your health?

“Since I started kickboxing I went from a pants size 31 to 27 or 28. I’m smaller now than I was at 12 years old and in the best shape of my life. Considering that I was a competitive athlete until I was 21 and played college softball, that’s quite remarkable. Kickboxing has improved my physical and mental health and has given me the confidence to feel like the bada** that others have always told me I am. I feel pretty every day, I have tons of energy, and I can pretty much do any activity I want which is a great feeling. So, it has completely revolutionized my health in a positive way.”


5.  What are your current goals?  

“This is an interesting one as I was just wondering what’s next with my trainer the other day. For now, just to maintain the shape I’m in and try to get through 2021 without a major health problem. I want to stay strict with my diet for an entire year because I’ve read that’s about how long it takes the body to reset itself to a new normal where I don’t have to be as strict in the future.

Beyond physical health goals, I’ve been working with a new therapist since the beginning of the year on really overcoming my mental health struggles and getting into a stable, happy, healthy place so that’s a huge goal for me this year. Finally, I’ve been working a lot on my spiritual health and my relationship with God. Having the faith to trust his plan for me and give my life to him is not easy for my control-freak self, so I’m slowly but surely learning to “let go, let God”, to practice gratitude daily, and to practice kindness in every interaction I have with another person. I’m definitely still a work in progress at these but my goal is to get a little better each day.”


6.  What would you say to anyone who was thinking about joining KickHouse and/or the Challenge?

“Come try it out and see if it’s for you. For me, it’s the perfect fit but I truly believe that each person needs to discover what works best for his or her health and personality. The workouts are intense, but also a lot of fun so be brave enough to give it a try and you just might be like me and fall in love.”


About KickHouse:

KickHouse is a modern kickboxing studio offering a variety of class formats, each rooted in kickboxing but with additional fitness flare added in. The KickHouse mission is to help members and communities take their health and kick it up a level via a consistent kickboxing practice! The new kickboxing brand has quickly grown to over 35 locations across the country and is looking to grow to 100 kickboxing studios within the next six months. If you’re interested in becoming a fitness franchise owner and opening your own KickHouse studio, visit

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