“Take risks! I think it’s good to take risks, because so many people feel like they have to do what everyone else does, everyone else I know has kids and are getting married - I don’t have any of that because I want to do something different. Dare to be different!”
Photo credit: Matthew Semper
Prior to being a professional fighter, Aannerud was a Hairdresser and Makeup Artist, travelling around Norway for work. A kickboxer since the age of 12, she decided to try training full time Muay Thai in Thailand two and half years ago, only intending it to be for a couple of months. Now she is a professional fighter, fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai. The decision to remain in Thailand and train full time is a scary one, but Aannerud had fallen in love with Muay Thai, and explained that if she returned to Norway, things would have continued as before; training part time kickboxing was no longer enough.
Unfortunately you can’t earn much money fighting Muay Thai, although you can earn a bit more kickboxing, she is starting to turn her efforts to MMA, as there you can earn a living. So she has begun wrestling and BJJ at her club.
We asked her about her toughness during a fight, where does it come from? They kick so hard, and punch so fast, but she says pain never set her back.
“I only feel the pain after a fight, after my last one I had to take pain killers to be able to sleep because my legs were hurting so much, but I had no idea during the fight, maybe because of the adrenaline.”
At her club, the girls are very supportive of each other, becoming more than just training partners. This support seems imperative, as the training regime is tough. You can train 2-3 times a day, and one session is 2 hours if it’s Muay Thai, “so by Saturday you are f*****”. Sundays are the rest day.
Photo credit: Embla Freixas
Photo credit: Jeff Sainlar
Having your period doesn’t affect her training, but says that she might ask her training partner to avoid hitting your stomach. Whilst energy levels fluctuate, she tells her coach that she is drained, ‘and they don’t mind, as long as you show up, even if it’s just to punch the bag.’
Aannerud has had the implant for 12 years, but still gets weight gain over her period, which is tricky when you have to cut for a fight. Her friends who have needed to drop a couple of kilos for a fight, but have their period over it really struggle, when it wouldn’t be an issue otherwise.
Training with men and women:
All training partners are different, and because of the high impact nature of Muay Thai, you have to agree with your sparring partner how hard you are going to spar. Her experiences with training with men is a varied one. Some can be super gentle, almost scared to hurt a girl, whilst others are the complete opposite.
Photo credit: Hip Santayanon
Photo credit: Jeff Sainlar
The difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing:
“Muay Thai is elbows and clinching, it has a different scoring system, and the rhythm is very different. Normally a Muay Thai fight is 5 rounds and kickboxing is 3. In the first round of Muay Thai you start slow. The judges only look at the first two rounds if it is a close fight. At round 3 the pace starts to pick up, and rounds 4 and 5 are the most important. Tactically you should take it easy for the first couple of rounds if you are going to last.”
Aannerud has always eaten healthy, but does need to plan meals so she is not too full or hungry during training. She likes to eat an hour before, but some teammates eat 3 hours before
“My first session is 7:30 in the morning, so I only eat a banana with a bit of peanut butter before, and I have breakfast after training. Then I sleep or rest for a bit. Then I have a small meal, maybe small pancake or chicken or something small, because I can’t train if I’m too full. My biggest meal is my breakfast after the morning training.”
“It takes me at least a week to get used to it each time. It’s so humid and hot, and you feel like you’re dying every session. Some days are hotter, and everyone suffers, but I actually prefer the heat in Thailand rather than the cold in Norway. I feel like I breathe better if its hot.”
“In Norway I wear makeup because as a stylist, I need to look like one! However I don’t wear makeup in Thailand, and my skin is terrible there because of all the sweat and dirt. Everyone’s is!”
Photo credit: Hip Santayanon
“I have worked a lot on mentality, because before I could do so well in training, but as soon as I stepped into the ring, I would freeze. But since training professionally in Thailand, that has changed.
There are four different levels in Thailand. Initially they put me into Intermediate, then they moved me up to Advanced. Then they watched me fight and invited me to the Professional Fighters group. At first I was like, ‘oh my god, little me, why do they want me, everyone there is so good, they are world champions’. Then I started to turn that around; there’s a reason they want me, and I can’t compare myself to them. I started to think that I did belong there, I set high goals and when I achieved them, I realised I could do it.”
Many of us dream of going somewhere like this and training full time, but feel that we are not ready yet, or that we aren’t in a good place in our lives to do it, but Aannerud says you just have to start.
“Don’t think ‘I’m going to start when I’m ready’. Just start. You are never going to be 100% ready. When I decided to become a professional I wasn’t at that level yet. I had to work at that.”