The kick-ass combat sports guaranteed to boost your confidence

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Amy Lewis
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Regular exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body. Just look at the stress-slashing benefits of yoga and the clear thinking that comes with a run in the park.

It’s along these lines that a new breed of combat sport-inspired fitness classes are taking off. From boxing and mixed martial arts to wrestling, workouts that offer an opportunity to pound out your stress are currently soaring in popularity. But that’s not where the mental benefits end.

Along with a head-to-toe body blast, these kinds of classes require the learning of new skills, preemptive strategic thinking and the empowerment that comes from knowing you can defend yourself. All of that combined, say fitness experts, can give your confidence levels in all areas of life a huge boost.

“As we exercise our bodies improve, which in itself a great self-esteem booster,” explains personal trainer James Davis, who also holds a BA in Social Psychology and a MSc in Applied Psychology.

“If we’re learning a new skill then that can make us feel better about ourselves as well, but to really boost your confidence try martial arts or boxing-based training. While initial benefits include everything from improved balance and coordination to body composition, these types of training also require you to focus and think.

“Throw in self-discipline and the confidence that comes from knowing you can defend yourself – should you ever need to – and you’re onto a winner.”

Dip your toe into the world of combat-inspired fitness with these introductory classes…


On her website, personal trainer and professional boxer Marianne Marston sells her session with the following: “Please don't go thinking this is just another ‘wimpy’ boxercise class like those at the local fitness clubs, these are the real deal and incorporate various aspects of the conditioning techniques as used by professional boxers in their competition preparations.” Ready to get stuck in? Martson’s the one to walk you through it.

Classes available at Ringtone Gym, NW1 2PB, see for more information

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, aka kick-boxing, requires a high level of mental focus and concentration, as well as physical fitness. KO Gym beginner classes will ease you into the art with introductory lessons where your skills and abilities (or lack of) are assessed by an instructor, before you progress to the regular timetable of classes with some one-on-one advice under your belt.

Classes available at one of KO’s four London gyms (North, South, East and West), see for more information


From grappling to takedowns and pinning your opponent to the ground, this new class at Gym Box will teach you the basics of show wrestling. The ‘performance’ aspect of wrestling will give your confidence an added boost too.

Available at Gym Box venues all over London, see for more information

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

London Fight Factory’s MMA – The Basics classes offer an introduction into the foundations of mixed martial arts such as grappling and striking, fusing moves from several disciplines – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and boxing – into a demanding workout for both mind and body.

Classes available at London Fight Factory’s Old Street venue, see or more information

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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.