My Unexpected New Favourite (Boxing!)

December 17, 2015

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about taking time away from bodybuilding competition prep is the opportunity to try other types of training.

I’ve ridden a horse (not mine sadly), a bike (mine), done some Strongman training, and even went along to my local boxing club to do a session.

That was in March. I’ve barely missed a session since.

I didn’t think I’d like it at all. Back when I was a Fitness Class Devotee (sometimes I’d do two, back to back… !) I tried Body Combat and other “punch-along-a-music” type classes and totally hated them. Sorry, Combatters. I just felt like a giant bell-end.

Who doesn’t love a boxing movie? (My dog is named after a character in Million Dollar Baby). So, lured by daydreams of being Hilary Swank, I went along to boxing, secretly assuming I’d feel just as much of a bell-end as I did at Body Combatx100, because this was proper boxing, with real boxing coaches, in an actual boxing club.
I absolutely loved it from the first session. Although I did nearly walk out (and I can count the number of times I’ve nearly walked out/given up on a sport on one hand). The warm up (!) was SO HARD that I genuinely didn’t think I’d be able to get through it. I only stayed because I knew that, if I left, I’d never go back.

I did go back, the next week, and it was much easier. Still hard (it always is), but doable. So I stuck at it.

Here’s a typical format. It’s a ladies-only session at an amateur boxing club.

  • warm up: 10-15 minutes of jogging, skipping, plyometric moves, “speed jog”, shadow boxing
  • main session: 25 minutes or so of bag-work and pad-work with a partner. We do things like “20/20/20” (20 seconds boxing the bag, 20 seconds boxing whilst jogging on the spot, 20 seconds big power punches… repeated twice), burpee followed by 4 punches (for a minute), 1-15 punches then back down from 15-1, slips, combinations, 10 x star jumps then 10 x punches (for a minute). You get the idea. Very little rest, with intense intervals of work.
  • circuit session: imagine an old-school boxing circuit (if you can’t, then just imagine any boxing movie you’ve ever watched) and you’re along the right lines. Sit up variations, press up variations, burpees, squat jumps, tuck jumps, med ball work. Either with a partner (so you get a bit of rest), or without (so, er, you don’t).
  • stretching at the end

What I love about boxing

It’s good, honest, proper hard work. I’ve always liked watching boxing as a sport, because (on the face of it, anyway) it seems a very “pure” and honest sport. Two bodies, one ring, that’s it. Our training has the same feel. Work hard, get on with it, nowhere to hide.

It’s the hardest cardio/conditioning work I’ve done in a long time. You get a proper sweat on (which is something I miss from my cardio days). It’s challenging. It’s teaching me new skills and a new way of working with my body (not something that necessarily happens very often once you’re an adult). I’ve been going for nearly a year and I’ve recently started hearing “well done Nic!” and “you’re getting better”. 😀

I also love the social aspect. I’ve made a new bunch of female friends through boxing and this isn’t something I even considered when I started going. They’re women I probably would never have met. We’ve got very athletic people, and people for whom boxing is the first and only exercise they’ve done. We’ve got people who have boxed in competition and won titles, and we’ve got people who can’t yet do a press up on their toes. We’ve got older ladies, Mums, college students and even an under-10 (she comes with her Mum and she is badass!) I really look forward to my twice-weekly boxing sessions and I realised recently it’s for the people as much as it is for the training.

And lastly I love it because this year it’s been a way of getting two guaranteed hardcore conditioning sessions in every single week.
As our coach says when we’re flagging: “come on girls, get your money’s worth!” (to which we reply, “We got our money’s worth within 5 minutes… it’s £2 a session!”) 😛

Tonight is the final session of the year but if you’re interested in joining us in January, we’re at Folkestone Amateur Boxing club, Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-8pm (don’t be late!) and everyone is welcome – age, ability, fitness levels don’t matter. It is a ladies only session, but obviously the club itself caters for men and boys too.

Have you done boxing training? Did you fall in love with it too?

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My Unexpected New Favourite: Boxing is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Audible sports audiobook of the month: Making the Weight: Boxing’s Lethal Secret

October 21, 2014

In this blog series, I review a sports audiobook from

This month: Making the Weight: Boxing’s Lethal Secret (a Sports Shorts) by Barry J. Whyte

making the weight audible

Making the Weight: Boxing’s Lethal Secret (a Sports Shorts) (Barry J. Whyte)

This is one of Audible‘s “sports shorts” series and is a very quick listen. I picked it for a short dog-walk soundtrack, because I’ve always been fascinated by the sport of boxing. I wouldn’t say I love it, but I admire the basic and pure nature of it as a sport. No gadgets, no tech, just two human minds and bodies trying to outdo each other.

This little book began life as an investigative report into the dangers of strategic pre-weigh-in dehydration in boxing. But I think it will appeal to anyone who’s interested in what goes on behind the scenes and in the lead-up to sport’s famous moments (and, of course, to boxing fans).

Journalist Barry J Whyte looks at the potential dangers of the 24-hour weigh-in by looking closely at one specific example from boxing’s history: the February 2000 fight between Joey Gamache and Arturo Gatti.

By looking at the controversial ruling which allows (encourages?) boxers to dehydrate right down the day before the fight, and then pile weight back on before stepping into the ring, he stimulates debate about the short and long term consequences. Physical, psychological and physiological risks are explored: extreme dehydration weakens the athletes, opening them up to the prospect of taking more punches, not to mention heat-stroke, long-term brain damage and even death. And the question is asked: why have the sport’s fans, journalists and officials done so little to investigate this practice?

Here are the opening few lines:

There are 278 seconds left in Joey Gamache’s professional boxing career.

He doesn’t know this.

Standing in front of him in the ring tonight is Arturo Gatti. He is going to end Gamache’s career.

He doesn’t know this either.

If you fancy a very quick listen about a fascinating aspect of one of the oldest sports still in existence, download Making the Weight from Audible.

Let me know if you have a favourite sports book you’d like me to review, or if there’s a title in Audible’s library which you’ve had your eye on. is the UK’s leading provider of new and classic audiobooks and has a range of autobiographies, investigative journalism and sports training titles.

Making the Weight: Boxing’s Lethal Secret (a Sports Shorts) (Barry J. Whyte) is available only from

Audible asked me to write the reviews and provided me with free credits for the purpose.

Audible sports audiobook of the month: Making the Weight: Boxing’s Lethal Secret is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Support Fight for Peace and LUTA sportswear

July 4, 2013

I wanted to tell you about LUTA sportswear – although it’s not just the kit I want to talk about (which is why I’m not doing this as a “fitness kit I’ve tested…” post).


You see, LUTA sportswear is more than sportswear: it’s an ethical organisation which supports vulnerable young people by drawing on the strengths of sport.

LUTA gives 50% of its profits to a non-profit organisation called “Fight for Peace”. Fight for Peace uses the practical tools of boxing and martial arts skills, with personal development and education, to help young people affected by crime and violence all over the world.


The people at LUTA sent me several (hand-written!) stories about how they put their profits to good use: kids using capoeira in Rio de Janeiro and boxing (led by Wladimir Klitschko) in London to build confidence and skills, engaging local communities of kids, celebrating as older kids graduate from the Academy’s Pathways programme (the equivalent of high school studies).

Fight for Peace works directly with over 2,500 young people a year at its academies in Rio and London and has so far supported 27 different organisations in 20 countries via its Global Alumni programme, a global community of organisations who share in our mission. Over the next three years Fight for Peace will train and support 120 organisations across the world helping a total of 70,000 young people.

LUTA sportswear was created to support Fight for Peace and the young people it helps.

LUTA is the world’s first ethical sports brand, giving half its profits to a non profit.

But what about our side of the deal? What does LUTA actually sell? You can take a look at the range of sportswear here at LUTA Sportswear’s webshop – it’s mostly boxing and martial arts stuff but there are tops, t-shirt and trackies too which would suit anyone who ever trains in a gym. They kindly sent me a this MMA-style rash guard/base layer which I’m wearing (and taking an awkward gym-selfie in) here.


It’s a really good quality top and definitely one I’d buy regardless of the ethical stance of the company. It feels as if it will last for ages and it’s very well made.

Do consider supporting LUTA and the good work they’re doing. At the very least please follow LUTA on Twitter and like LUTA on Facebook.

Support Fight for Peace and LUTA sportswear is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

My Olympics: day 15, boxing

August 11, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: boxing.

Just a quick one for you today cos I’m hungry and need my tea!

Today, I met up with a group of fellow natural bodybuilders at Bodybionic gym in Thatcham. Bodybionic is owned by Nick Openshaw, a bodybuilding competitor and all-round jolly nice chap, and he kindly opened the door (and tubs of protein powder) to a group of us.

After bashing up my chest and shoulders with figure competitor (and new friend) Helen Milton, I headed upstairs to the boxing area for a little bit of boxing coaching with Gym Manager Jacko.

First, we warmed up with a bit of skipping just like any self-respecting light-weight fighter.

Then it was into the ring with my opponent…

She was significantly lighter than me (in fact, it was a mystery as to why we were even fighting in the same category… !) and fast on her feet…

She had me in the first round…

But I got in the final blow in the second round and, just like Cancan Ren, Helen fell to the ground…

I was triumphant! (Well, it is my blog!)

Really? We were both far too tired (and depleted) to go one round, let alone several, but hey I put on boxing gloves and got in the ring! 😉

There’s no women’s boxing on today but, like many of you, I was blown away by Nicola Adams‘s performance the other night and love her story. Whether you see boxing as a skillful, agile, technical sport or are one of those who “can’t watch it” (or don’t think women should box), you can’t deny the girl did great.

So, today was my celebration of Nicola’s history-making Gold medal. Got to go. Mo‘s on! Go, Mo, Go!

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day 15, boxing is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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