Jessica punches above her weight to be a contender in Chadwell Heath
After watching in awe as Team GB’s Nicola Adams stormed into the final before going on to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in women’s boxing, flyweight division, I loved the idea of being able to have a go myself.
On entering the Lions Den Gym, High Road, Chadwell Heath, I was faced with fighting cages and a boxing ring, which I admit filled me with as much fear, as anticipation and excitement.
After being told by my boyfriend that I had remarkable strength for one so little, a remark that was not particularly well received, I thought I might be all right at the newest Olympic sport for women.
The class I was attending was a new women’s kickboxing class which after only two weeks, already had 16 members, varying in age and ability.
As I introduced myself to the instructor, Hannah, who instantly made me feel at ease, I was soon donning a pair of bright red weighted boxing gloves to see what my punch was like.
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“If you are right handed, you always fight with your left hand and foot forward,” she told me.
The group split into pairs to warm up where the object was to catch our partner’s knees or shoulders to help improve our speed, reminiscent of a scene from Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone chased a chicken.
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The class also put a lot of emphasis on core strength and stomach muscles.
“I couldn’t even get out of bed after the first session,” I was informed by one of the group, without realising how true that would be.
Once we had learned the basic punches and the rhythm in which to do these, we practised in front of our “opponent” who was wearing boxing pads.
So don’t worry, there were no black eyes or bruises afterwards, which my colleagues had joked about.
Hannah encouraged us to push harder and make our punch stronger, which I felt I had by the end of the hour-long session.
Many of the people I spoke to wanted to know how to defend themselves if anything happened, while others wanted a fun way to keep fit with their friends.
Owner of the gym, top British MMA fighter and Ilford resident Khalid Ismail, said he has recently doubled the size of the gym making it the biggest martial arts facility in the capital.
He said: “Women’s boxing has always been popular, it’s just become a lot more accessible for women nowadays, with more and more classes becoming available. It is a fun and exciting way to keep fit and the fact that it is now an Olympic sport has definitely increased its popularity on a world scale.”
The gym has a female-only section as well as a number of new classes on offer at both Chadwell Heath and Romford gyms. Mr Ismail added: “The Olympics were the perfect opportunity to showcase that women as well as men are able to excel at this sport and for it to be recognised.”
Visit www.ldgfitnesscentre.com. Women’s kickboxing classes are run on Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-8pm.