Musician-and-model-turned-boxer Mikaela Mayer is more than just a pretty face! The determined athlete entered the 2012 London Olympics hoping to win a spot on the U.S. women's boxing team but was unable to make the cut. Far from letting it deter her, the 22-year-old Dr. Pepper spokesperson is using the experience to fuel her drive to make the 2016 Olympics.
"I hope everyone is ready for me," she told SHAPE. "I'm in 100-percent training mode. It's a huge goal of mine."
We sat down with Mayer to learn a little bit more about her workout routine, why she loves boxing, and why she thinks more women should take an interest.
SHAPE: Can you tell us a little bit about your daily workout routine?
Mikaela Mayer (MM): It varies depending on whether I'm training for a tournament or not. If I'm in full-on training mode three or four weeks out from a tournament, I train six days a week, two or three times a day. I normally start with an interval running or track workout, and then do strength training in the evening around 6. I also try to spar at least three to four times a week, where we simulate an actual match and go for four to eight three-minute rounds.
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SHAPE: Obviously you're very fit. How you motivate yourself to work out when you just don't want to?
MM: It's definitely hard! Whenever I need motivation, I just remember my love for the sport. I've had to give up a lot—hanging with friends, being able to party whenever I want, time with family. But I want to be good at it. I want to do something productive with my life.
SHAPE: You used to be a model. How did you decide to make the transition to boxing?
MM: Modeling was something I was super set on doing for a long time. When I was doing it, I thought I was passionate about it, but the first time I tried boxing, I was hooked. All I wanted was to be in the gym. I thought, "Oh, this is what passion is." I'm an extremist. I don't believe in doing things halfway.
SHAPE: How did people around you respond to the transition? Have your friends and family been supportive?
MM: My dad has always been my No. 1 fan. He still is, but he was a little shocked and questioned my decision initially. But really, everyone has been really supportive. Boxing gives me a purpose. This is my destiny. A lot of people don't know what they want or have to work jobs they hate, but when I wake up in the morning, I know where I'm going.
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SHAPE: What kind of advice would you give to women or girls who want to take up boxing but might be deterred or don't know where to start, especially given that for so long it was such a male-centric sport?
MM: The sport is really opening up to women—the 2012 Olympics was the first time women were allowed to compete in the ring. I'm hoping this will encourage a lot of girls to try it. It's such a great sport and it keeps you in such good shape. When I first started, I took the last $100 in my checking account and signed up for a class, and then I was hooked.
I'm also kind of a girly girl, and I think a lot of people first underestimated me when I started boxing until my skills shined through. I think a lot of girls think you have to be super aggressive to get into the sport, and it's not true.
Photo credit: Frances Iacuzzi Photography