How teaching at iLoveKickboxing helped instructor Cara Maria win MTV’s Battle of the Bloodlines

CONGRATULATIONS to iLoveKickboxing Bozeman instructor Cara Maria on becoming MTV’s Battle of the Bloodlines Champion!

Right off of her big win, Cara Maria skyped with me to discuss some of the high and lows of the Challenge, if she’ll do another one, and how teaching at the Bozeman studio gave her the confidence to come out on top.


So Cara Congratulations! How does it feel? What’s next?

Well I finally got my big win! You know I’ve done 8 seasons of this so if they ask me to come back I don’t I might do 9 or 10. So I guess my next goal would be to set the record for the most eliminations won. I think I’m already there but I think I want to set the bar even higher. I might have to do some more bag rounds to prepare for the next one.

How did you get involved with the Challenges? How did you find out about them?

Long story short: my friends in college were obsessed with the Real World. I remember trying to tell them a story about how my day went and they brushed me off til a commercial. I said.. Oh yeah? I went home and applied. I went through several different casting rounds and finally got a call to be on The Challenge: Fresh Meat 2. I didn’t fully know what I was in for…. but 6 years and 8 seasons later I still can’t believe it’s my life.

Click the video below to hear Cara explain how ILKB prepared her for Battle of the Bloodlines.

Photos courtesy of Cara Maria and MTV.

Did you always have a competitive spirit?

I grew up in New England outside of Boston. I was a dorky little only child and all I ever wanted to do was ride horses and do arts and crafts. I never did sports or anything outside of 4H shows with horses. The only competitive spirit I had was in school when it came to getting good grades. A competitive spirit in sports didn’t come about until I went on my first MTV show.

How did you get into health and fitness? How did you end up at iLoveKickboxing? 

I got into health and fitness with my first real job working the front desk at a Golds Gym at 17 years old. I really gravitated towards boxing. I always snuck time on the mitts with the personal trainers whenever I could.

I loved taking group fit classes at Golds Gym and really wanted to become a group fitness trainer. I got certified through AFAA and searched for job openings in my area. As luck would have it an ILOVEKICKBOXING was opening up and searching for staff to kick things off… it’s been a year with ILKB Bozeman and the rest is history.

Has ILKB helped you in any way prepare for any of the challenges?

ILKB has SO prepared me for the challenges. I have gained SO MUCH more confidence as a teacher. I felt throughout this entire Bloodlines challenge that I had to kill it to make my members proud. I felt strong and confident as I coached cast-mates on warm up and glove drills to get through time in the house. I felt like I could do anything that came my way physically. I also felt loved and supported from my ILKB family and members. All i wanted to do was get my one phone call a week so I could call into work and tell my coworkers that I missed them. ILKB really is a family to me. I love love LOVE my job.

What’s the best part about being an ILKB instructor?

My job is my escape. It’s like therapy to me. I could have the worst day in the entire world and I walk into work and it all disappears. I have such a kick ass team by my side. The originals that were there when we opened are still there and we have only added to our staff since then. We work together like clockwork. My bosses are the best anyone could ask for and they treat us like family. Our members give me life and I see their progress in hitting goals every day.

I get to work out in bare feet and stretch pants. I get to HIT THINGS at work. Honestly 12696037_1555438398107632_347839666_nwho is that lucky? I seriously love my job. I never drink coffee or energy drinks but my energy from the pumping music and the adrenaline of the class just sends me through the roof. Pure fun and happiness.

Also.. I used to DJ in Boston and I brought my kit out to Montana not knowing when I’d be able to dust it off and use it again…. but OH YEAH.. we have THEME PARTIES ONCE A MONTH WITH DJs. I am the DJ at my ILKB. I get to take out the tables and go into over drive on our parties. Literally can’t be any more fun! Punch, Kick, Change Lives, Burpees, Push ups, COMFY CLOTHES, DJ, Party, Dress up, Best co workers ever. What more could I ask for?

What’s your go to move?

My “go to” move in class is def HOOKS. I love throwing hooks. power hooks, speed hooks… any hooks. Also… I’m notorious for my love of burpees. Add a push up and we are golden. I love challenging myself to push harder every day.

Going back to the Challenges, what has this experience been like for you? What have you learned about yourself along the way?

I started out in The Challenge as a very insecure and awkward girl with no social skills at all and a whole bunch of fears. Every season I get stronger and stronger. I get to really see what I am made of. I have done the most amazing things. I ran in the Olympic stadium in Berlin. I got to tarzan my way across a tower of a building in Turkey. I got to jump from car to car like a stuntwoman in Berlin. I got to prove myself in multiple eliminations in countries all over the world. It’s an out of this world experience that I am so fortunate to have. I have gained so much more confidence and I have transformed from a weird little girl… to a stronger more secure and bad ass… weird girl. 

If you could put ILKB members through any challenge, what would it be?

If I could put ILKB members through any challenge it would be to forget the 3 days a week. Give me FOUR. for just ONE MONTH. Pencil that in your schedule. MAKE IT HAPPEN. Make YOU a priority. And then lets talk about how good you look at the end of it shall we? If you really want to get crazy… try taking advantage of your unlimited membership and do every class your ILKB offers that day (make sure you hydrate and fuel up between). One of our members hit all 5 classes we offered in one day. He went as hard in the first as he did in the last. He went through 5 sweaty shirt changes because he killed it every time. Now THAT is a challenge!

As Cara Maria Battle of the Bloodlines winner and as Cara Maria the ILKB instructor, what advice do you have for your members and people on a fitness journey?

Anytime it hurts, that means it’s working. If you’re getting uncomfortable that means it’s working. You can be comfortable on your couch watching tv but you come here to work. And when you push yourself passed that point of I’m going to do one more pushup, one more jump-squat, one more burpee then that means you’re going to be that much stronger the next day and you’re going to be that much stronger than when you came in. So it’s so much worth it to push it even just a little bit each time and that’s how you become better. If you don’t stay comfortable that’s how you get better.

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