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Health and the City Punch it out!

By Stephanie Ross in association with Virgin Active Barbican V Stephanie Ross

irgin Active Barbican has a great new boxing studio - part of the gym’s now completed £1.4m renovation.

Different size/density bags means you can train using different strength levels. The choice of very well attended boxing-based exercise classes – with ladies now making up a third of participants – offers some of the best and hardest overall exercise sessions available. The pad work is done in pairs making classes sociable and a positive, cathartic way of managing stress, frustration and less-than-friendly feelings - more on that subject later. ‘Punch’ is Virgin active’s in-house

boxing-based fitness program. It is such a good cardio-vascular workout because you use both upper and lower body together, while also strengthening many muscle groups too. ‘Punch’ classes are taught by Fitness Manager, John Greatwood and Personal Trainer, Adam Saunders.

Virgin Active’s Boxing Studio

John manages the gym’s six fitness coaches (the guys in red shirts on the gym floor) and supervises their fast classes: V Core, Vipr and Kettle Bells for core strength, TRX for overall conditioning; and Ski-Fit to work

your skiing muscles. Following his Sports Science university degree John did a long spell as a coach - with both grown ups and kids - for David Lloyd, before joining Virgin a couple of years ago. He is a rugby and squash player. His 'Punch' programs reflect his group fitness background – he is a great class leader and includes a diverse range of strengthening exercises in addition to bag and pad work. Adam has been at Virgin for three years. He teaches this class because he has spent some years training in boxing for his own personal interest. He includes pad work in personal training programs – most commonly for overall fitness and weight-loss but he can work on sparring and boxing technique for those interested. His ‘Punch’ programs reflect a more boxing-focused background and are excellent for endurance, strength and technique. Tony, one of Virgin’s freelance trainers, teaches Boxing Circuit. He runs a very popular energetic program of circuit training – including track running and boxing pad work. He has a strong, vibrant leadership style and his class is a sociable, uplifting and strenuous workout.

Elijah is a Virgin Active Personal

Trainer who also teaches kickboxing. He was National Thai Boxing champion in the 2008 Ringmasters Tournament as well as the under 65k British San Shou free fighting champion. Barney is also a Virgin Active

Personal Trainer. He is a trained boxer and takes the Thai Boxercise class on Tuesday evening at 7.20pm. In addition to the Personal Trainers mentioned above boxer Scott, is also available for Personal Training and can schedule sparring and technique sessions should you be interested.


However, only exercising in this intensive way, without fully stretching and rebalancing your body thoroughly, results in tight muscles that can be painful and easy to injure. This is why it is so important to make time for a yoga or Pilates class at least once a week. If you haven’t got into these disciplines then Virgin run some gentler sessions. Lavinia’s Pilates class at 10am Saturday mornings is great for learning the basic techniques and she teaches private clients. George runs a really fantastic gentle, restorative yoga class on Wednesday evenings at 8pm, he has the amazing skill of making you feel as light as a feather, tranquil and uplifted all at once! This class is good for learning the various postures, as is Jeannie’s at 1pm Thursdays. If you fancy your Pilates rather harder then dancer Michael runs a very popular session on Thursdays at 12.15, where getting through all of the exercises without slacking fills you with a sense of achievement! So why are boxing-based classes so popular? According to Mike Fisher, Founder of the British Association of Anger Management, sixty four percent of us feel that society is most definitely becoming more aggressive. For those of us with anger management issues living and working in the City, stress is the main culprit. This can often be the flip side of either driven, confident, successful personalities or those who have more passionate, enthusiastic characters. To make matters worse we live and work in an ever more condensed, closed environment. And as if this isn’t bad enough, women are expressing their anger more out of the home. The intensity and adrenaline rush of angry outbursts can become addictive. Yet constantly suppressing anger can have serious health consequences - depression, digestive disorders, even cancer according to some people. Obviously if we suffer with an anger problem we have to understand the root causes and learn how to manage our emotions, reactions and lives more successfully. Sports and fitness help

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