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Energy, strength, focused faces and coordinated boxing moves. Women of all shapes and ages (and a couple of men too), working hard, sweaty, red faced but punching out the stresses of the day.

That’s what I encountered at a recent group sparring session I attended. I have to confess to being a bit nervous about going along, the word ‘sparring’ is a bit scary isn’t it? But wow, what a fab class. There was lots of laughter, lots of cheerful banter and groaning. But the camaraderie was evident, the good humoured encouragement to ‘hit a bit harder’ and ‘keep going’ made me see why women keep coming back to this class and why they take their kids along to the family Boxercise session.

I had the privilege of interviewing Leigh (39) and her daughter Lucie (6) about why they love these classes so much….

Lucie is only 6 years old but she’s been going to sport with her mam since she was tiny (she used to go to metafit but she can’t remember it!) In fact, Leigh used to go to watch her mam play netball and so each generation is encouraging the next to get active, it’s a way of life for them.

Why did you decide to try Family Boxercise/Group Sparring?

Leigh: “I’ve played Netball all my life, since I was 7, and I’ve only really had a break from it when I had Lucie. Sadly though, I have an issue with severe arthritis in my knees and I have no cartilage in one knee. My only real option is a knee replacement but I’m too young. So to minimise the impact on my knee I’ve had to drop my netball sessions down. I explained the situation to Debra and she has helped me adapt the Boxercise sessions so they’re high impact for my upper body and core but I can do them without too much impact on my knees. Debra is fab and always helps me find an alternative exercise that I can do”

Lucie: Lucie has been going to the family boxercise on a Sunday afternoon which she absolutely loves. At this class the parents can work with their child, the parent has the pads and children have the gloves on and do the punching, combinations and circle drills. Parents are there to encourage and take the punches! Lucie has progressed so much that she’s able to join in the Group Sparring classes on a Monday.

What keeps you coming back to Family Boxercise/Group Sparring? Would you recommend it? (and to Lucie, what do you like about sparring?)

Lucie: “I love it, I get to do hooks! When I’m older I want to do proper boxing in a ring”

Leigh: “Lucie has grown in confidence since she started Boxercise, she never had much confidence before but she’s really grown in confidence. The Boxercise has really given her strength, her teacher is really impressed with her and she’s really starting to excel in PE at a school as well”

(at this point Lucie showed me her beautifully executed Gymnastics Crab position with one leg in the air!)

Leigh: “Lucie asked for boxing gloves and pads for Christmas! It’s a real family activity for us, we sometimes even practice our sparring in the living room. I love it because if you’ve had a bad day it really releases stress or anxiety. It has a proper ‘feel good factor’ for me. I often feel tired before I come here but I always feel better afterwards. I feel really confident coming on my own and I’m really welcomed. I think the welcome from the Debra and Emma (the instructors) makes a massive difference. This group has been so friendly and the fact that Lucie can come makes it even better. I couldn’t do it so easily if Lucie couldn’t come with me. Monday night can be a sluggish night and now I feel full of energy, I can feel my fitness levels building. I can’t do much with my knee but I can feel my upper body toning up and the strength in my arms increasing. I just feel better….”


Debra’s Group Sparring and family boxercise Sessions are currently the only one in the NE but she’d love to tell you more about it and for you to join in! She can be found here:

Boxercise classes can be found at various locations across the NE, if you’d like help locating your nearest session then please feel free to contact us and we’ll see what we can do:

There are lots of different ways to get active with your kids (or take them along), download our PDF of those we know about locally. If you know of others we’d love to hear about them and update our list, let us know at: