12th May 19 | Lifestyle
Who said boxing and martial arts were just for the boys?
If you have a look at professional boxers and fighters on the TV, it becomes quickly apparent these are male-dominated disciplines.
Fighting may be seen as traditionally ‘male’, but there’s a growing number of strong badass women on Instagram keen to change this outdated stereotype. And fighting – a term we’re using here to refer to sports like boxing, MMA, Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts, as opposed to scrapping outside the pub – really is one of the best total-body workouts out there.
Feel like you’re stuck in a bit of a gym rut? There are so many talented female fighters on social media to look to for inspiration. Not only will they show you fighting-specific skills like sparring and kicking, but perhaps more importantly, they’ll provide a whole lot of inspiration for new and challenging exercises you can do at the gym. To be a successful boxer or MMA fighter, you need to be fit and strong from head to toe – and that’s exactly what these women are demonstrating.
One of the best things about these disciplines is the confidence-building they offer too, which is immediately clear from these Instagram accounts…
1. Marlen Esparza
American boxer Marlen Esparza won bronze at London 2012, where she was the first female boxer to represent the US at the Olympics. From there, her career has gone from strength to strength – and you can be sure the intensity of her workouts match up to the level of her success.
She posts a fair few sparring videos on Instagram, and it’s truly amazing to see how quick her fists are and just how light her footwork is.
To keep herself fit, Esparza also posts a whole lot of interesting ways she works out using equipment like medicine balls and ladders. Her skipping rope work might look insane, but it will definitely inspire you to give something similar a go yourself.
Esparza’s dedication is pretty impressive – she continued to box up until she was nine months pregnant, and is well and truly back in the ring after giving birth in January. Admittedly, not all new mothers are quite so lucky with their health and fitness, but you’ve got to hand it to Esparza’s – she’s working incredibly hard.
2. Estelle Mossely
Estelle Mossely is another Olympic champion, but she competes as a lightweight as opposed to Esparza, who is a flyweight.
Boxing is well and truly a total body workout, and Mossely shows how important it is to train and strengthen every muscle. This involves some exercises you might not have considered before – like weight training for your neck.
Even if you can’t quite translate her French captions, it doesn’t really matter – workouts are universal.
3. Claressa Shields
Claressa Shields is currently the undisputed middleweight champion – no biggie.
She claims to be the GWOAT (‘greatest woman of all time’) and even though this is disputed, you can’t deny Shields is a boxer at the top of her game. She’s hungry for success – and the videos she posts on Instagram show the true extent of this.
Sure, Shields’s fitness might seem like another world to more regular gym-goers, but you can’t deny it’s pretty inspiring stuff.
4. Safiyyah Syeed
One thing which is really refreshing about the world of female boxing and MMA is just how diverse it is. Safiyyah Syeed is an 18-year-old amateur boxer from Bradford, who also happens to wear a hijab.
She speaks a lot about the positive mental impacts of boxing, and told the BBC: “Honestly, I could have the worst day in the world but when I walk through them doors, I just forget.”
A lot of the fighters on this list are daunting because they are seasoned pros at the top of their game. While Syeed is undoubtedly talented and super fit, she’s also an amateur, so a lot of the workouts and exercises she posts on Instagram are a lot more achievable for us regular folk.
5. Jay Sanchez
If boxing doesn’t do much for you, there are plenty of other disciplines to check out – everything from mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing to Jiu Jitsu and Thai boxing are increasingly popular, and will leave you feeling just as sweaty.
Brazilian Jaydine Sanchez is a kickboxer, boxer and MMA and Taekwondo fighter, so you can be sure the workouts she posts on Instagram are pretty jaw-dropping. Whether she’s sparring with a friend or punching and kicking a bag, her videos are inspiration for anyone who wants to give a new type of fighting a go.
A good thing about Sanchez’s feed is she posts the occasional partner workout video too. If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself in the gym, going with a mate can be the kick up the behind you really need. Once you’ve got your confidence up, you can then start tackling some of Sanchez’s more intense workouts.
A lot of the exercise routines she posts are outside, on the beach or using the stairs outside her apartment, showing that you don’t really need a pricey gym membership to get fit either.
© Press Association 2019