Sometimes the biggest hurdle to me trying anything new, is my mind. Thinking it’s not for me, it won’t suit me, I won’t know anyone there or I don’t know how to do it has stopped me from taking many fitness classes. Boxing was no exception. Lockdown has gotten me out of the group exercise habit, sneaking in a free you tube workout before breakfast or just watching one whilst I ate breakfast, was about as much as I did in 2020! So it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invite to Apollos, Llanederyn and Pentwyn boxing club, after moaning that my five star luxury hotel style lockdown ( all you can eat and drink) hadn’t done my figure much good!
‘Female Fighting Fit’ was set up by Nicola Wheten in 2017 and is run with Llanederyn and Pentwyn amateur boxing club. The aim of the group is to promote confidence in a supportive and encouraging ‘boxing family’, whilst increasing women’s fitness and strength. The session instructors are both female and are supported by the wider boxing club instructors who are there to help with technique – the aim is to encourage and help.
Boxing helps balance my mind as much as my body. When working out on the punching bag, our brains increase the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that create feel-good thoughts. Punching helps to relieve muscle tension that can collect when you experience stress. As you continue to punch, you will find your focus is improved, increasing your concentration and helping you forget the reasons why you are stressed. No one minds when you grunt or groan whilst letting rip on the bag!
Doing exercise on your own can have its benefits when you just need some silence to run around the park or hold a yoga pose. Boxing offered me a different type of side by side work out, where is wasn’t reliant on the person to exercise but shared a joint goal of punching the other side of the bag until the bell went. Whether you’re sparring together, doing pair work with the pads or even just holding someone’s feet whilst they do sit-ups, you have opportunity to cheer each other on. Post lockdown, this informal sisterhood of support, warmth and encouragement really helped me feel at ease. No one cared about their matching gym kits, my dirty trainers nor my sweaty face – but they did shout me on and there were plenty of ‘Go on Sar! Punch harder!’
Boxing is an excellent way of getting to know yourself. You will start to realise and understand more about how your brain works and reacts as you develop your unique boxing style. ‘Fighting Fit’ mixes aerobic exercise alongside bag and floor work to improve strength and build muscle. The instructions come thick and fast so you need to listen and process the information before you start your three minute rounds. It stretched my brain and stopped me from looking at the clock even once! I learnt hooks, jabs and upper cuts, and how best to sequence them. Of course we all joked about ‘ex boyfriends’ when we got to punch our bags, but we all diligently followed the instructions to the perfect ‘jab, jab, punch!’ in unison.
We were encouraged to choose motivating music to exercise along too ( Eye of the Tiger wasn’t played once!). It’s not a competition, no ones going to say you punched the bag wrong or you didn’t do a full press up. Instructors are much more likely to encourage you and support you in being the best that you can be and to stand tall and be confident. We clapped and cheered at the end of the class and I re-booked myself back on straight away for the following week. I might not have been able to sit down for several days, I did sleep like a baby and looked forward to the smiling welcome the following week.
‘Female Fighting Fit’ runs at Llanederyn and Pentwyn ABC on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. To join this boxing family and the sisterhood you must book in advance – find Apollos on facebook or Instagram
By Sarah-Jane Bailey