Klara Svensson, boxing
Klara "The Swedish Princess" (or "Hulk from Höllviken") Svensson is a boxer with three professional belts:
- WBFI Super Lightweight (2012)
- WIBF Super Lightweight (2012)
- WBC Super Lightweight (2013)
In 2016, she won a high-profile match against Michaela Laurén.
Today you can find Klara as an expert commentator on Viasat for UFC, in morning sofas on SVT or as a contestant in Superstars on Kanal 5.
When did you discover exercise?
I have always exercised since I was a child. It was part of everyday life. I started with football and continued with badminton. That was the norm. Then I found martial arts at the age of fourteen. When I then added the fitness training, which was so much fun, I decided to focus fully on boxing.
It went very well for me quickly. As a 16-17 year old, I got to meet 24-year-olds. I then realized that I needed to train more. Raise the bar for my training.
I discovered the joy of training late.
"For many years, training for me has been about playing on the margins to be the best in the world. It is demanding and not always fun."
Why is that?
Some people find training because they like to move. For me, it was because I was good at a sport.
Training for me now has for many years been to play on the margins to be the best in the world. It is demanding and not always fun.
Today I train to feel good. For it to be fun. It must not be draining. It must give more energy than it takes. It's been great to discover!
When did you discover it?
Maybe 1-2 years ago, haha!
It took a long time to get that balance. For example, I could train against the amateur but still felt that I wanted to run over them during training.
Why has it taken until now?
I was 23 years old when I turned professional in my sport. There has always been a "whip" for match delivery, some goal. It was only when I took my first long break in 2017, where I had a year without a match planned, that I got to try training without performing but just to feel good. It was difficult. It took a long time to get that balance. For example, I could train against amateurs but still felt that I wanted to run them over during training. But now I have found a harmony of training at a reasonable level.
Describe your exercise habits today!
Training with Bruce, an app that allows me to vary my training. I love it!
I feel good about sweating every day. I train about one session a day. Not zealously. It doesn't have to be exactly every day but it has to be recurring.
I have previously been on 12 sessions per week and then there is no time to reflect on how training "just to feel good" should be, then it is only performance that matters. So now I am exploring this.
Sometimes there are two sessions a day, but then one of the sessions is calmer. Tonight, for example, I will practice salsa, haha.
"I was born as a refrigerator. I couldn't even sit in the tailor's position as a child."
What are you practicing today?
Martial arts, salsa, gym. My latest passion is bikram yoga. It's fucking awesome! I'm obsessed.
Why is that?
Because I was born as a refrigerator. I couldn't even sit in the tailor's chair as a child. I am immobile. There are advantages to that, I can explode muscularly. Stretching is really boring, everyone thinks stretching is boring.
With bikram yoga, I get the stretch in a better way. I get into the positions better. It's great to stretch for the first time, haha! Then it is a detoxifying feeling too.
Any exercise you refrain from?
I have never tried spinning. Why, well it has never happened.
Do you talk training between friends?
Yes, I have tried to push my closest friends who have never been involved in elite sports. Since I have been in the "performance bubble", I try to remove it and focus on the joy. It should be fun to be good.
But many people have performance anxiety. People who are not 'fit'. They build it all up as a completely different world, like they can't do anything and so they never go to the gym.
I try to take the pressure off. You have to feel good. It does not matter if you run three kilometers or just move around a bit.
Do they dare to train with you then?
Yes, what the hell. It's fun to have company even when you're exercising.
Has the perception of training changed?
Yes, very much so. 20-30 years ago it was good if you went to Friskis & Svettis a couple of times. Now it is built up that you have to behave like an elite athlete with diet, materials and other things. This is detrimental to the masses. It becomes too elitist. If people can make it to a session, they understand that there are all different levels and that it's fun. They just have to have the courage to take that small first step.
"A lot of my friends get anxious because they haven't exercised."
What do you tell your friends?
Many of my friends get anxious because they haven't exercised. In my world, if you write something down, you do it. You can't feel it on a Tuesday night if you're going to train on Wednesday morning. Instead, set a reasonable dose. For example, if your ambition is to get three sessions in a week, you have to set a reasonable level. It feels like the whole training thing is so mental for many people. Don't make it such a big deal. Avoid these discussions with yourself, so to speak. Just do it.
What is the latest thing you learned about exercise?
Not really the latest, but how important it is to exercise in a variety of ways. When I was a teenager, I ran a lot by myself and almost always the same distance, which was really boring. I would have varied the running distance of course, haha.
Otherwise, I try to think about the big picture. Surely you can stand meaty arms and get biceps for the summer I now try to see the body as a whole. For my part, it is then mobility. I try to add more low-intensity sessions with stretching and mobility because I am very rigidly built and get hard muscles. I try to work with different parts of the body.
In my sport, it's very much about a few movements that you repeat and build muscle around. Which makes the body tired. So now I try to find the whole picture.
I also think about how I feel after I leave the gym. Sometimes you may not have gotten what you wanted, you may not have gotten the maximum out of the workout. I try to think now if I feel happy after the session. I want to be excited after a training session. It should have given me energy. It must give me more energy than it takes. It should be great and hard.
"I try to think now if I feel happy after the session. I want to be excited after a training session. It should have given me energy. It must give me more energy than it takes."
What is the last thing you learned about your physical strength?
That I get swollen legs after 30 years, haha! I was wearing tights with seams that gave me marks on my legs after a session, haha!
I've come to an acceptance with my basic biological condition. I think I understand my body better today. Therefore, I try to vary the training more.
I am very positively surprised because bikram yoga makes me feel like an acrobat.
What would have happened if you had discovered Bikram Yoga earlier?
"I think it would have been a good complement for matches.
There are two kinds of people, those who like or hate warm-ups. I love it! I start with the "wooden stick", to run through and soften the body. Then try to roll up the hip, lock up. Lunges to warm up. I know my body well now.
I grew up that way. My first trainer set two-hour sessions. Where the first 45 minutes is a warm-up before we went into the ring. I think a lot of people are too impatient, they just want to get on with it quickly.
"I've come to an acceptance with my basic biological condition. I think I understand my body better today, so I try to vary my training more."
What is the latest thing you learned about your mental strength?
I have always known that I have a strong mind. Have been persistent and tough. I have known this since an early age. Now I have come to a different harmony, even though it sounds so 30-plus, haha. I do not put focus and energy on small things as I did when I was younger. I'm more harmonious mentally. I know myself better too. Which means I can stand for things with confidence today that I couldn't do when I was younger.
Everything from appearance to there being a different stress and feeling that I have to be a certain way. I actually had this discussion with my friend just now. That I who have been successful can come and say "fuck everything" and go my own way. I have already shown that I have managed something. Well, I don't know.
Or maybe it's age that makes me realize that I no longer care what others think. There I can compare with my sister who is five years younger.
It could also just be the cliché of getting older. Luckily it's not the other way around, that I'm getting dumber and dumber.
"If you feel bad about missing a training session, I think you should ask yourself if it's healthy."
What are your goals with your training today?
Right now the goal is to challenge myself in my comfort zone! For example, I have taken advanced salsa classes without ever having taken a step before. And to try things that I have not done before.
Have fun training with others. I have previously trained so much alone. I want to see it as a hangout.
"I want to feel strong and healthy."
Who has taught you the most about training?
Spontaneously my first trainer, who I have as an extra monkey. But he was born in 1945 and we haven't always had a shared view on training and what was reasonable. It has made us good, resilient and strong.
I have worked with a girl in Denmark. Who was more holistic. She made me realize to give the body energy, not just out, out, out. It was a lot of pilates and Paul Chek. Maybe it was strong for me. To see the body as a flow of energy.
I have also learned that you can do a repetition once and it feels clumsy. Then when I do it the next day, it feels good. I have learned not to judge the body. It's smart. It will find it. It only needs one or two rounds. You shouldn't shut out or knock out what doesn't come naturally.
What inspires you?
Money! No, I'm joking. Energy inspires me.
Where do you find it?
I find it everywhere. If there is positive and good energy in your life, you will be inspired and have the energy to do more things that inspire you. A damn fuzzy answer maybe but I think people can get lost in that. That they feel uninspiring and energyless and it is a damn unpleasant feeling to carry around.
How do you kick-start if there is no energy in your life?
I try to de-dramatize that such days exist. It's a condition, not permanent. In our Instagram world where everything should be so damn good all the time, it's okay to have days where you don't feel so good. To have those days and not panic about it. Let it come and go.
"In our Instagram world where everything should be so damn good all the time, it's okay to have days where you don't feel so good. To have those days and not panic about it. Let it come and go."
I believe in rituals, that people feel good about it. I'm still working on that. For example, I try to have a certain morning ritual. I think that works well. These rituals can be a source of security. Something you feel safe in.
Now I have an evening routine where I boil water and put it in the fridge with lemon and lime. Every morning I then drink it. Nice cleansing of the body when it has been sleeping all night. Purifying water.
I also write my to-do list the night before. I try to make it a ritual. Since I never had a nine to five job, it feels good to have such a routine. I am very much my own person.
People need structure. That it becomes bad if there is too much High Chaparral with everything.
"Sometimes I've been so out of shape that I haven't been able to walk. Then I just lay on the couch and watched TV. Apathetic recovery, haha. I can't recommend it."
How do you think about recovery?
Food. It is important to fill up with good food. I easily think I'm starving if I don't eat, haha! Sleep, of course, too.
But also snus. I am addicted, it "fluffs" me. To take in a snus after a training session.
One thing I know is that social media is not recovery. I can see that I'm just slow-scrolling. That doesn't provide any benefit. What is recovery, we must ask ourselves. What do we spend our time on. What kind of energy output do we have. We must become more aware of this.
Sometimes I have been so exhausted that I have not been able to walk. Then I just lay on the couch and watched TV. Apathetic recovery, haha. I can't recommend it.
What would you have done differently if you could do it again?
I would probably have saved so I had energy left to stimulate my psyche in other ways than watching series. So I could get outdoors, get new impressions. Be social with people. But it's very difficult during these training camps, where it's mostly about repairing yourself for the next training session.
Is it a generational thing, to train someone so you can't walk?
That could be the case. I've had coaches like that, who saw training that way. Another part has been that the form of training has not given much energy. Also that I have trained as a lone girl among only boys, where I have been physically weaker, which then takes more of a toll on me.
It has probably been different things.
"Health is to have healthy thoughts, not to be a slave to a precise training schedule."
Slutligen, har du tips till någon som vill komma igång med träning och till någon som är du en bra nivå men vill ta ytterligare steg?
Jag upplever detta som vanligt, att folk inte börjar tränar för de inte är tränade. Dom bygger upp det till något stort. Det gör det till en mental vägg. För de egentligen bara om att går till gymmet, borde börja smått och sedan motivationen och energin av sig själv. Sätt bara igång och ha inte så höga krav på dig själv. Så är nog enklast att komma igång!
För den som tonar hårt redan får du kolla till helhet. Hur känns kroppen. Piskar jag mig eller bara eller mår jag bra. Har jag en negativ stress eller positiv stress i kroppen. Det är en fin balans. Många kan ju bli träningsstörda. Vad är hälsa egentligen? Hälsa är att ha hälsosamma tankar, inte att vara slav under ett exakt träningsschema. Det finns många som är mer hälsosammare i skallen och tränar en dag per vecka än de som kör sju dagar i veckan.
Om man mår dåligt av att missa ett träningspass så tycker jag man ska fråga sig själv om det är hälsosamt.