Kickboxer launches I Am Girl Urban Retreat

As part of the new I Am Girl Urban Retreat, girls will create personal super-heroines. Credit: Submitted image

A champion kickboxer and co-founder of the OM Collective is launching a summer retreat for young girls.

The retreat at Calhoun Beach Club features kickboxing, ballet barre, catered meals, and mentors like author Alexandra Franzen and Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun. The workshop is designed to help girls boost their self esteem, find their talents and handle social pressure.

“It’s how to handle the naysayers in the world, and let yourself be yourself,” said founder Lisa Van Ahn.

Van Ahn suffered abuse and bullying as a child, leading to a miserable adolescence and young adulthood. Her turning point came at age 19, when a not-so-nice boyfriend dropped her off in front of a kickboxing studio.

“My boyfriend kicked me out of the car and told me to take a class or sit on the curb and cry for an hour,” she said.

She decided to take a class, and thrived with the help of the female studio owners.

“They encouraged me, and showed me what was within myself,” Van Ahn said.

She joined the amateur kickboxing ranks, advancing to win a North American kickboxing title and a bronze at the PanAm games in Brazil. She went on to kickbox professionally in Las Vegas. She now teaches classes and workshops for groups including the Girl Scouts.

Van Ahn is excited about the chance to spend more time with kids at the four-day retreat.

“We’re all going to go through the fire, the growing pains, the hard times,” she said. “My intention is not to save them from that, but give them the tools to handle it successfully. … You’re worthy because you’re here, and that’s enough.”

The retreat runs Aug. 18-21, and it’s designed for girls ages 10-13. For more information, visit iaminitiative.com/girls-urban-retreat.