12 November 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Natalie Tries: Boxing master-class with Cathy Brown

October 23, 2013
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Boxing is daunting enough. Stepping into a ring, strapping on your gloves and preparing to get hit… a lot. But when your master-class is being run by northern firecracker, ex-professional boxer Cathy ‘The Bitch’ Brown, you know you’re going to work hard.

Originally from Durham, 5”1’ flyweight Cathy Brown had an incredible boxing career – ranked number three in the world, Cathy competed professionally until 2007 before retiring with the WBF European Flyweight Title and the BBB of C English Bantamweight Title. So the Sportsister team jumped at the chance to learn the basics of boxing from such a pro.

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In the swanky setting of The Third Space gym in Piccadilly Circus, Cathy now works as an elite coach, focusing on boxing, kickboxing, sports psychology and mental strength. And it was soon evident why her clients need mental strength. Cathy certainly doesn’t do things by halves.

After kitting ourselves out in the latest Lonsdale boxing gear (rocking pink, disco-ball shorts and pink high-tops), Sportsister’s Lizzie and I sauntered into the gym feeling slightly ridiculous, but ready for anything. Surrounded by burley boxers hopping in and out of the ring we felt ludicrously dainty, but after a muscle-burning warm-up led by Cathy we quickly got into the spirit.

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The basics

There is so much to boxing, so we were grateful to learn the first steps to get us started. Unlike ‘boxercise’ where you can just go hell for leather regardless of technique, learning real boxing is much more technical. The goal here isn’t just fitness and burning calories, the goal is to outsmart your opponent and win matches.

Cathy set us up in the right stance with the correct foot positioning – it’s vital to have your weight evenly balanced and the power comes from your back foot. The urge is to tip forwards as you punch, but the power is in rooting yourself in your back foot.

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Next it was on to working on combinations. As Lizzie held the pads I was taught the correct way to jab, cross and hook – positioning my hand in the right position and swinging in a way to create the optimum power. It was amazing how satisfying it felt to nail a combination with a powerful thud. We were also taught the techniques for uppercuts, ducking, protecting your face and some basic footwork.

But it wasn’t all floating like butterflies and stinging like bees. If the boxing itself wasn’t exhausting enough, Cathy threw in some intensive circuits in between practicing the combinations. Press ups, burpees, sit-ups and mountain climbers where just a few of the techniques Cathy used to make sure we were thoroughly exhausted. Boxers are notoriously fit, winning matches seems to be all about your ability to maintain your strength and accuracy even when you’re physically exhausted.

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The Benefits

– You use a whole new set of muscles. If your fitness is mostly comprised of leg-based movements, running, cycling etc, this will be a shock to the system. Your arms, shoulders and back will be feeling it for days afterwards. It’s great for your body to use as many muscle groups as possible.

– Coordination. You have to be mentally switched-on to be any good at boxing. The technicalities force you to concentrate at all times, so you work both your mind and your body and improve your coordination.

– Endurance. Boxing training is hard and you have to push yourself to the limit. Doing an hour session just a couple of times per week will improve your fitness vastly.

– Stress relief. There is nothing more satisfying than going flat out against the punch bag, giving it absolutely everything you’ve got. Punch away your day-to-day stresses and leave feeling calm, yet energised.

The Third Space is an incredible gym with state of the art facilities in a prime location, but that doesn’t come cheap. Monthly membership at Cathy’s gym is £139 per month, but you really are paying for quality. When you join, The Third Space offers five personal training sessions for free – so you can be put through your paces in the ring with Cathy.

Cathy Brown is an ambassador for Lonsdale. For more information follow @lonsdale1960 or visit www.lonsdale.com 

Natalie Morris, Sportsister
The Women’s Sport Magazine

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