Combat sport gym members speak out as gyms remain closed amidst lockdowns

Written by Oliver Hall

Home workouts via Zoom have become the norm during the lockdowns. (@The Kickboxing Academy on Facebook)

Of all leisure activities impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps none have suffered greater than combat sports.

Social distancing rules and the closure of gyms during the various lockdowns have taken away the very essence of the sports, close-quarters combat.

Small gyms have been unable to operate since the first lockdown was initiated last March and the larger gyms have only been able to stay open intermittently, in adherence to the Government’s guidelines on social distancing and leisure.

Evan North, 22, of Rosedale Avenue, Chesterfield, attends both the Fortify Jiu-Jitsu gym in Sheffield and the Kickboxing Academy in Chesterfield.

He said of the closures: “I haven’t been able to do any sparring in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a year now, it’s the best way to practice.

“I have watched training videos on YouTube and Instagram which helps with technique, but nothing replicates practicing it against other competitors.

“My development has really stunted the last 12 months, mentally it’s been really tough.”

The Fortify Jiu-Jitsu gym has been unable to open since last March, owing to its limited space. Meanwhile, the Kickboxing Academy was able to open for just pad work and fitness regimes between September and November, before Chesterfield was placed into tier 4 and it was again ordered to close.

The Kickboxing Academy does host home workout sessions on Zoom for its members, a common trend for many of the gyms this year.

Charlie Horridge, 22, of Foljambe Avenue, Chesterfield, attends the Queen’s Park Leisure Centre in Chesterfield and has found comfort in home workouts.

He said: “I’ve been really lucky, my dad has a garage gym that I’ve been able to use since the start of the second lockdown.

“I watch videos of Instagram fitness instructors and form my own home workouts from them and it’s been really helpful both mentally and physically.

“I couldn’t use the home gym in the first lockdown and I piled on weight, these home workouts have been transformative for me.”

Queen’s Park have posted videos of their personal trainers’ home workout videos onto their Facebook page, free for anybody to watch.

With no real timeline in place for the full re-opening of gyms, a resumption of combat sports in their entirety remains a distant goal. As such, the mental and physical impact it has on the combatants will continue to be a genuine concern for those without access to home gym equipment and adequate sparring partners.



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Written by Oliver Hall

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