They’re high-flying businesswomen, and they’re taping their hands up and letting it rip — on each other. They’re the Ladies of Fight Club, and if you look around your workspace you might find one sitting there, dreaming of her next chance to get in that ring and box.
“For the past 12 months, I’d been exercising, mainly running, but with little purpose,” explains Fiona Buckley, Senior Account Director at Man Bites Dog. “I was focused on my new job and my two young children – and I was aching not just to try something new, but actually learn something new.”
According to Paul Clarke, who teaches boxing full-time at Third Space (Soho and City) and Bob Breen Martial Arts Academy in Hoxton, Fiona is just one of many women lured by the sport. “Women are training in fighting sports because it’s not about changing the body shape, like other forms of fitness training — it’s for the confidence and empowerment that doing a combat sport gives.”
For Fiona, the appeal was multi-level, but a primary benefit is the “complete cessation of multitasking required by boxing. To be honest, It was a revelation to focus on one thing only. I had forgotten what that felt like. Boxing is invigorating and hard work; it’s tough, sweaty and challenging and you need to avoid that punch.”
Fight training definitely has an impact on mindset, agrees Paul. “You have to get that part right before anything else. The human body can be put through a hell of a lot, but the mind can play tricks and make you doubt yourself.” It can also be hard for women, who are often told “don’t hit others” as children, to break that conditioning. Paul works closely with women to ensure that they are training properly and are prepared for fights. “The more you train the less fear you feel,” he points out. “As with most things in life it’s practice, and we train to hit other students, so the more you practice in a safe environment the less fear of being hurt that you’ll have.”
But it still takes a lot of guts to get in the ring and actually punch someone, and Fiona knows that feeling full well, after taking part in a corporate white-collar boxing challenge earlier this year. Though she didn’t win, Fiona says she’d absolutely do it again. “It’s a real experience, stepping into a ring in front of hundreds of people, and I had to dig deep to find the courage as the nerves really kicked in on the night,” Fiona explains. “It was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it shot me out of my personal comfort zone – that’s something which we talk about in business all the time, but we don’t often get that in our personal lives.”
So if you’re secretly longing to feel that excitement, how do you get started? The best way is to find a coach that will work with you towards your goal, but Paul cautions that with boxing, word of mouth is the most reliable approach. “There is so much information out there online you can get lost – and most important don’t believe everything you read about boxing,” Paul cautions. “Ask a friend, and try a class or three. Always look for a coach that sees you and not just £ signs. Remember, the right coach can be life-changing!!”
Fiona couldn’t agree more. “My new hobby has definitely made me braver in all things, in work and my personal life. I feel so much stronger for it and look forward to winning my next bout. I’m signing up for another one later in the year, and I’m hoping to win this time around!”
Try a ‘Bitch Boxing’ class with Cathy Brown, Professional Boxing Coach at Third Space
Main image by Greg Williams
Hettie is the editor and co-founder of DOSE. A keen runner, she’s also partial to a blast of high-intensity and hot yoga. A country girl at heart, she divides her time between London and the lush rolling hills of North Devon. When she’s not jetting off on her next adventure, Hettie can be found in a candle-lit alcove with a laptop, a spaniel and a full bodied Malbec.