Passions: My stress relief consists of punching and kicking in Bodycombat class

As a child, I should have been taken to karate, rather than ballet classes.

That’s one of the reasons that I’m such a fan of Les Mills’ Bodycombat. This is a martial-arts-based class, set to music. There’s plenty of shadow-boxing jabs, upper cuts and hooks, all interspersed by lunges, roundhouse kicks and tuck jumps.

For a whole hour, you can be a budget Bruce Lee. It’s non contact, so no actual faces are pulped. Only the air gets hurt.

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I’ve been going to these sessions at my local council gym for around 15 years. Sometimes I’ll do two a week, though often it’s nearly every day. It is something of an addiction.

During lockdown, I even did online versions of the class in my living room, and nearly KO’d my wedding photo off the mantelpiece.

Once you’ve discovered an exercise that you actually enjoy, it’s never a chore.

I wish I’d realised that when I was a kid who hated PE and any sport.

Thus, I mix Bodycombat up with yoga, a couple of other weight-bearing classes and low impact stuff like cycling or walking. I’ve tried RPM, Bodyattack, barre and other activities, but nothing is quite as fun. I’ve thought about raising my game with a trip to a boxing gym, since my dad did it in his youth and I feel it might be embedded in my genes, but I’m too feart.

Most of the others in my class are also middle-aged women who probably have an inner seam of repressed anger that needs to be vented.

The studio is like a controlled space for a daily Falling Down moment. Interestingly, I literally have fallen over, while skipping to the side, but that didn’t put me off. Neither did punching myself in the nose.

I know how silly I look. Sometimes, I see myself in the mirror, jumping about like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and think, this is absolutely ridiculous and if anyone I knew saw me, I’d implode with embarrassment. That just makes me punch and kick harder.

I leave with a Ribena-coloured face, fizzing with endorphins, pouring with sweat and feeling like a total action hero.

I suppose that’s slightly less embarrassing than wearing a tutu.

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