How wrestling helped me battle my anxiety

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Undeterred by injury, anxiety and her lack of experience, Lexi Rose stepped into the ring with one mission in mind: learning to wrestle…

What skill would you master if nothing was stopping you? 

Maybe you think you could give the contestants on Bake Off a run for their money, or perhaps you fancy yourself as a master painter. 

Television producer Lexi Rose (ring name: Lex Mayhem) had spent most of her life fascinated by wrestling, but never set foot into the ring until injury, struggle and opportunity allowed her to. 

Here, she tells Stylist about her journey and how YouTube helped her get there…

When did you first get into wrestling?

Me and my sister used to watch it on TV when growing up, and inevitably got told off by our parents for recreating the moves on the sofa! 

I loved the theatrics, drama and performance. I was hooked – but only as a fan at that point, not as a participant.

How did you come to step into the ring?

My partner and I were
 researching weird, fun things he could arrange for a stag do. A wrestling course came up that was close by. 

I was going through a strange time: I had just been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder, and I was seeing a really great therapist. 

She pointed out to me that I kept saying things like ‘I can’t’ – I was very shut-in. So she encouraged me to
 try something new to get out of my comfort zone a bit. So, when I found the wrestling course, I felt I had to go for it. 

What was your fitness level like at the time?

Probably the best shape I’d ever been in, which is crazy when you think that I’d broken my foot a while before and couldn’t go to the gym, which wasn’t helping with my anxiety. 

I searched on YouTube and found some amazing videos by Caroline Jordan, which were all tailored to working out with a broken foot – I felt like I’d struck gold. I got into such great shape through following her videos, and I felt stronger for it.

What were your first experiences of it like?

It was very intense. The boot camp
 I signed up for at Brixton’s Knucklelocks Gym, where I still train, lasts for three hours on Saturday morning.

The drills were 200 press-ups, 200 sit-ups, 200 burpees – then getting into the ring to do these acrobatic moves and fight in front of the class.

I would feel so overwhelmed and often cried during class, but I refused to quit. 

How did you stay motivated?

Wrestling moves can be complicated, but by watching old fights on YouTube, you can get a frame-by-frame replay and just keep watching until you get it. Lots of WWE stars post workouts on YouTube.

Wrestling is a specialist sport, especially for women, so it just opens up a whole other world. For example, female wrestling is absolutely huge in Japan, so I can watch loads of helpful content from there. 

All this quite niche stuff is at your fingertips, and you can send it to people and get their feedback on it.

How has wrestling helped you?

Wrestling has definitely had a positive impact on my mental health. The support from my class was amazing, and taught me that failing and falling on your arse is part of life. 

It also taught me endurance, and after every class I feel like I’ve achieved a little more. It’s so addictive, that feeling of achievement and pride in yourself.

YouTube is more than just viewers. Read about six more extraordinary viewers who became doers here.