Endorphins released during workouts 'amazing'ANGELA CROMPTON
Physical fitness is worth fighting for and Matt Kay in Renwick encourages people of all ages to push past their limits.
Wednesday is a busy day at Renwick's Giesen Sports Centre, starting with combat instruction at 6am, a mothers' boxing class at 9am, another at 4pm for 7 to 12-year-olds and an adult class at 5.30pm.
"It's not about fighting," says Matt, who worked for a few years as a British Royal Air Force physical education instructor. "It's always about fitness. And [boxing has] got to be the ultimate in fitness, unlike going for a run.
"If you do something wrong you are going to get a punch on the nose so it makes you much more alert!" he laughs.
Matt, 37, grew up in Tauranga but left New Zealand at 16 with a sponsorship to represent Great Britain playing softball. Eight years later he got a rugby contract and then he joined the Royal Air Force.
Physical activity rather than military action was the attraction, he says, and he was employed as a physical education trainer. He went on 22 deployments with the RAF and was responsible for keeping airmen and women fighting fit. Combat survival exercises and escape and evasion tactics were among his programmes, pushing everyone to their physical and mental limits.
Exposing people to extreme pressures in a safe environment lets them handle almost anything they might face in enemy hands, he explains. A similar strategy is adopted in the boot camps he runs for people in Renwick. His next course starts on September 17.
"It's full on. People want to be pushed. They want to get to that level where they would be fatigued."
A man on a previous course lost 20 kilograms in 12 weeks, Matt says. Another participant, a woman in her 60s, took part so she could tick it off her life achievements' list.
Boot camp members range from the ultra-fit who already do extreme sports but want to push themselves still further, to ordinary, run-of-the-mill people with normal day jobs.
"It doesn't matter how fit you are," Matt warns everyone on the first session. "Everyone will be feeling the pain.
Endorphins released in the body during long, continuous workouts bring amazing results, he says. High levels of fatigue might be reached at boot camp but once the exercises are over, everything else participants do that day will be easy.
Improved fitness levels and self-defence strategies aren't the only benefits of boxing, either. The sport requires left and right fists to be used, activating the left and right sides of the brain. Matt says children who seem to be ignoring instructions or requests may not actually be hearing the words because the cortex in their brain hasn't fully developed.
Thuggery or threats to beat others up have no place in the boxing ring and Matt encourages his students to be responsible for their actions. Anyone found threatening or abusing others with their new skills will be banned from his classes. People who formally box, wrestle or do judo rarely feel a need to show off their strengths, he says.
- The Marlborough Express