Discovering her passion for Muay Thai when she was 19, Sheena Mabilangan's journey has taken her to becoming one of the youngest full-time Muay Thai and CrossFit trainers at UFT Playgrounds.

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How did you make the transition from Muay Thai to CrossFit?

I used to train at a commercial gym and got a bit restless of the same routine. The spontaneous side of me wanted a challenge, so I picked up Muay Thai at UFT Playgrounds. 

The best way I can describe Muay Thai for people to understand is that it’s a sport similar to kickboxing, but not at the same time.

They call it the art of 8 limbs, so besides kicking and punching you have knees and elbows added in too. 

CrossFit came into the picture when I unfortunately tore my ACL and meniscus (one of the four main ligaments in the knee and the cartilage that stabilises the knee joint) while training. Instead of letting the injury side line me, CrossFit enabled me to slowly recover while developing the foundational movements that I lacked previously. 

It's the ultimate combination - I find that my endurance and speed has improved and I'm a stronger athlete doing CrossFit and Muay Thai.


 (Left) Sheena going for her ACL surgery (Right) In her strongest element at UFT Playgrounds, post recovery

(Left) Sheena going for her ACL surgery (Right) In her strongest element at UFT Playgrounds, post recovery

How have you kept positive through set backs?

There were many times where I hit rock bottom when I tore my ACL. It felt like a bad déjà vu because I had the same injury 5 years ago...on the same knee! 

The hardest part was the waiting. I was on the wait list for 12 months before receiving the surgery. The days were agonisingly empty and frustrating because I wasn't able to stay active and I had absolutely no power to fix it. 

I can understand how some people might fall into depression - I just remember feeling this overwhelming sense of isolation. My self-esteem suffered and I could have easily spiralled down if it wasn't for the unconditional support I got from my UFT team. 

Little by little, they helped me get back on track, celebrating the small wins and always encouraging me to keep moving forward. I learnt that it's okay to not be okay, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness - it's a sign of strength.


 (Left)  @blackroseaustralia  (Right) @ sheenamab

What is Rope Climbs to Everest?

Each year, UFT Playgrounds hosts a Rope Climbs to Everest event to raise money for Alive Crusade, a charity working to build a better solution to support, aid and research anxiety & depression.

I love the event because it's a fantastic team building exercise that brings mental wellness into focus.

The feat represents the ability for us all to overcome challenges and that we all can only do so through encouragement, understanding, guidance and support. Sufferers of anxiety and depression face equally challenging circumstances, but they experience this on a day-to-day basis. 


 (Left) Sheena on location at the 2016 Rope Climbs to Everest (Right) @trentpacephoto @missievillamor

(Left) Sheena on location at the 2016 Rope Climbs to Everest (Right) @trentpacephoto @missievillamor


Sheena Mabilangan is a Muay Thai Coach and Personal Trainer at UFT Playgrounds Berwick, Victoria.



Alive Crusade was founded in 2013 to honour a friend lost to suicide at 23.

The fact is, the current system in Australia is failing the 1 in 4 people likely to be battling either anxiety or depression. All profits raised from Rope Climbs to Everest will go towards Alive Crusade and their plan to build Australia's first ALIVE centre for carers, sufferers and supporters seeking mental wellness support.  

It will be a unique place designed to keep people Alive, aiming to prevent suicides and provide a safe haven. 

Find out more about Alive Crusade at

If you believe yourself or a loved one is suffering from depression, having suicidal thoughts or amidst a crisis, free support is available from Lifeline Crisis Line 13 11 14, Headspace 1800 511 800 and Beyond Blue 1300 224 636. 

Skye LeeUFT Playgrounds