Krav Maga is fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine, which is to secretly be capable of serious ass kicking. I'm not sure where this originated because I've never been beat up by anyone other than my sister (we had some pretty good sister-style fights growing up) but I think it has to do with a disconnect between my mental and physical confidence. I won't hesitate to speak up in any situation but I've always been keenly aware that I'm pretty timid physically and if push came to shove I'm not sure I could hold my own.
I'd read about Krav, which is basically street fighting based on the Israeli Defense Forces training, and then a Groupon popped up and it was meant to be. After our Groupon was up we got a good deal on a year long membership and called it our Christmas gift to each other.
I've been going 5 - 8 hours a week since early December and I didn't start to turn a corner until a full two months had passed. I should have guessed this would be the case because my athletic coordination ranks just above that of a sea slug. I've spent most of my life trying to get out of any and all group sports, occasionally by hiding in a bathroom stall with a book (summer daycamp grades 4 - 6, I'm looking at you). I will run and swim and ride but please don't ever ask me to participate in any game involving aim. Krav isn't really choreographed but it does involve simple sequences of movements that I find incredibly challenging.
I hate being bad at things so it was hard to willingly subject myself to several hours a week of being the worst. I sometimes dreaded going. If I had a particularly rough class I'd feel bummed out when I got home. There's a lot of pressure because you partner up and working with someone below your skill set can really ruin a class. I'm keenly aware that I'm not the best partner yet and I feel guilty about it, even though everyone else presumably was bad at some point as well.
But, as I said, I started to feel a change around two months. I am getting better. When I have a good class, I feel amazing. I know from past experience (a few years of ballroom dance classes that were highly humiliating at first) that once I get the muscle memory built up I'll start progressing faster. I'm not going to let myself be limited by my comfort zone.
Obviously, Krav is very physical. It's focused largely on self defense but we learn offensive moves as well, so that we can hold up in a fight if we're in a situation where bailing out isn't possible. There's also a mental aspect to it. The instructors stress the importance of getting used to the physicality of being hit so that if you're ever in a situation where you do get hit, you have some frame of reference and you don't freeze up. I take this to heart because even in the safe environment in class my mind will blank out the second someone starts choking me, even though I know it's coming. And yes, people do choke you in class, but it isn't as creepy as it sounds.
We spend time punching (with boxing gloves and strike pads), kicking and doing drills. It isn't cardio most of the time, so I still need to supplement with a bit of running. I don't think I've lost any weight, but I am developing new muscle.
I also take immense pride in the gnarly bruises I often get. Not everyone appreciates them, so that could be a pro or a con depending on your point of view.
If you're thinking about taking a class, go for it. Wear exercise clothes you'll be comfortable moving around in. Don't get discouraged if you feel like you're behind. If you're naturally timid, try to break away from that - one of the most annoying things for an experienced person is partnering with someone who is afraid to touch you. Above all, SHOWER. I'm a generally clean person but I'm now obsessively clean. Knowing you're likely to end up in a headlock or clamping your thighs around a stranger's neck will make you more aware of that. You don't want to be wondering if your breath is okay when you're supposed to be focused on learning.