"Not For Girls" is a stigma we often encounter in the fitness world when it comes to certain workouts, regimens, supplements, you name it. And it's a phrase that certainly doesn't apply to Raquel Harris.
We had the pleasure of chatting with the female #4 ranked USA Boxer and World Kickboxing Gold Medalist about the state of equality in the fitness and sports world, how to get started with something new, and her upcoming and self-written movie, "Not For Girls."
So Raquel, we know you as a World Kickboxing Champ, but had no idea you were a writer too! Tell us a little about the movie premise and how you came up with it?
I broke my toe in the finals of a tournament and had to rest it for three months. It was so depressing. During that time, I binged tons of sports films to stay motivated, but I did not relate to any of the characters. That's what inspired me to tell my story and write "Not For Girls" - which surrounds a young character who attempts to defy adversity in her pursuit to become a competitive boxer against her Mother’s will.
What do you want viewers to walk away feeling after they've watched it?
I want others to feel inspired to hit that “start button”. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, let fear hold you back or allow others to knock your dreams down. When you believe in yourself, you’ll succeed and when you succeed, they’ll believe.
Do you have any advice for women that want to try kickboxing but don't know where to start?
Women who tour the gym and meet the trainers before taking classes seem more comfortable. It’s all about finding what’s holding you back, creating an approach, then hitting that start button. If you are nervous about being in a class environment consider 1-on-1 training or digital classes to get your feet wet.
What is it like being a part of a sport that's considered hyper-masculine? How do you see that also manifest in the fitness industry and what sort of strides can be made towards equality?
There are not enough opportunities for women. If fight organizations honor equal pay, exposure, and endorsements as our male counterparts then that would be a step in the right direction. We also need brands to back us and help change the stigma about women in sports.
What advice do you have for other women who might be intimidated by a certain sport or type of workout, or thinking that it's only for men? How can they overcome that stigma?
Challenge that fear. Once you overcome it, you will leave feeling empowered. That’s the beauty about boxing and other male-dominated sports; it builds you mentally and physically. When people meet me they are surprised about how nice I am. Behind the grunts, lean muscles, and poker face there is always an athlete who was once a beginner or just as intimidated. And Athletes are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.
Where can we be on the lookout for your movie?
We were scheduled to premiere “Not For Girls” at the Manhattan Film Festival; however, all theatre events are either postponed, canceled, or launching online due to COVID-19. I will post official updates on my pages accordingly. You can follow my Instagram handles at @raquel.harris or @notforgirlsfilm to stay in the loop.
About Raquel Harris:
Raquel is a female fighter from Queens, New York. With her first Muay Thai fight being in 2013, she is now ranked USA boxer, World Kickboxing Gold Medalist and Muay Thai Champion. She is also an actress and writer, known for Not for Girls (2019) and The Special Without Brett Davis (2015).