Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Getting into the fighting spirit

Fitness can be fun, and fitness can be a chore. Sarah and I have been lucky enough to try out a multitude of classes across SW6, from bikram yoga to tabata training, but I've always found that trying a new class is the best motivator to get my body moving. So when I heard about Safari Kickboxing, I leapt at the chance to get fighting fit, whilst trying my hand at something different.

Safari Kickboxing is run by husband and wife duo Karim and Khadija Safari. Tucked away in a discrete location in a shopping centre on the North End Road, the studio is surprisingly spacious and offers total privacy from prying eyes - perfect for those of us who haven't quite 'mastered' the moves yet! Classes are single sex, which serves a multitude of purposes. Kickboxing competitions are traditionally run in different weight classes, and seeing as some of the kicks and punches are given with force, even in training, I for one was very glad some muscle-bound fellow wasn't throwing his fists at me! More importantly, it sets a supportive and relaxed tone which attracts a multitude of ages, shapes and cultures to train in a way in which they feel comfortable.

Khadijah is a very engaging and motivating teacher who has evidently built an excellent rapport with her students, many of whom are regulars. But kind and chatty as she is, she will work you hard - my abs were still burning days later! We were taught a combination of "fight" sequences, combining blocks, dodges, jabs, punches, hooks, high kicks and stomach kicks. To up the ante repetitions were built in: one four part sequence was repeated once, twice, thrice and then up to 10 times! Khadijah makes sure to give everyone plenty of personal attention, as each of the moves is doubly effective when performed with the right positioning and posture, and keeping your guard is just as important as getting the moves right.

Kickboxing is not just about learning how to spar - there is a huge emphasis on gaining personal confidence but also fitness. The classes start with a healthy dose of skipping and we were guided through a series of squats, crunches, leg raises and abdominal exercises that, whilst challenging, are guaranteed to give you a six pack! For those real fitness freaks amongst you, or just gluttons for punishment, Safari also runs aptly named Cardio Killer sessions.

The classes are really accessible and welcoming. There's a range of ability within the group but both Khadijah and the other students are more than willing to take time to make sure you're doing the postures correctly and that you're enjoying yourself. You'll come out of the class exhausted, but most of the exercises can be dialled up or down according to your fitness levels - just know that you will be stretched! Though, no pain, no gain, right?

Safari Kickboxing
347 North End Road

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