Sunday, 11 March 2012

Punching below my weight (hopefully)

I have never been what you might call a sporty person. At school I chose Latin as an option just so I could get out of doing PE. But last September I enrolled in a Government subsidised Get Back Into fitness scheme to do Boxercise - and finally found a form of exercise I love!

Needing to shift a few pounds and not really wanting to go on a diet, I had come to the painful conclusion that I needed to significantly increase my levels of physical exertion. I'd never enjoyed aerobics in the past as I lacked co-ordination and I don't have the body confidence, the disposable income or the fancy sportswear to join a gym. So I searched online and in the local papers for some daytime classes and stumbled across Get Back Into - run by County Sports Partnerships (Regional Sport England) - which runs a range of low cost classes to encourage people over the age of 16 who don't exercise, or would like to start again, to get fitter and healthier.

Something about the sound of Boxercise really appealed to me - mostly, I have to admit, the therapeutic appeal of punching out all my aggression and frustration! As a woman it can be difficult to find an outlet for aggression. All too often those sorts of feelings are internalised and directed inwards which can lead to added problems like comfort eating, drinking and ultimately depression.

And a brilliant stress buster it indeed turned out to be! And as the class was on a Monday morning, it meant I could save up all my weekend niggles and punch them out of my system right at the start of the new week - brilliant!

What I hadn't reckoned on though was how much fun the sessions would be, and how supportive. We spend a full hour running, jumping and punching til our arms are heavy and aching, but the comraderie and encouragement from the others keeps you going. For example, when you are doing sets of 60 or 70 punches in a row, your partner will count aloud for you, spurring you on, so that all you need to do is concentrate on swinging one arm, then the other, and making contact. And breathing. You mustn't forget to breathe......

Yes, it's primitive and it's painful but it is an amazing full body workout, that sorts out your stress levels as well as your bingo wings. Plus, there is something truly empowering about doing something so physical. It makes you feel strong, inside and out, as well as giving you confidence in what your body is capable of. My fitness levels are already way up from when I started - and if I do manage to lose some weight along the way, then that'll be an added bonus.

As I said at the start, I am not what you'd call a sporty person. But finally finding a sport I enjoy has made me re-evaluate this assumption. People who know me well are amazed that I am suddenly so enthused about boxing - I'm a mum in my forties, so shouldn't I be into Yoga or Pilates instead? Thankfully my partner thinks it's great and he surprised me on my birthday this month with one of the best presents I've had in years - my own pads, gloves and a skipping rope!

It does seem a little bit incongruous I suppose - a mild-mannered, middle-aged mother donning her boxing gloves - but a part of me likes to shock, so maybe that just adds to the appeal!


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