Nicola Chew recounts a year of sport that’s seen much novelty in people’s choices of workouts
Fitness fads: they gain a colossal following, ballooning into a movement that takes on global proportions, expanding through the outreach of social media and the ever-changing ideals of health and aesthetic. I spoke to some folks about the sports trends of 2015, and the possible reasons for the increase in appeal and popularity over the past year. And in no particular order…
Sam Leighton, Muay Thai Society President
Literally meaning “Thai Boxing”, Muay Thai is the art of eight limbs, making use of punches, kicks, elbows and knees in combat. Its popularity as a sport has been gradually rising over the past century, but the spike occurred only in the last decade as Muay Thai has become more standardised and accessible to amateurs and enthusiasts. It has also received a substantial amount of publicity as many UFC fighters have a background in Muay Thai, and famous stuntman Tony Jaa has made it a martial art prevalent in media and popular culture. Traditional though it may be (it originated in the Middle Ages), Muay Thai is still able to hold its own against the modern combat sports.
Sam’s Muay Thai tip: “Don’t be nervous about trying it out! Come on down to Astor College and find out what we’re about for yourself, whether you want to improve your fitness or get in the ring and fight, we cater for all abilities and it’s never too late to get started!”
Joel Teo, Pole Fitness Society member
A cross between dance and acrobatics with a pole as its centerpiece, a pole fitness routine incorporates spins and tricks around the pole that consist of inverted and contorted positions. Its increased popularity can be attributed to the body positive movement gaining momentum and the widening disjunction between pole fitness and its strip club stereotype.
Joel’s pole fitness tip: “Do more pole! A lot of pole is about technique more than anything else, and you make progress much faster than you would imagine especially if your practice frequently.”
Anna Zonia, Kickboxing Club President
Kickboxing is a martial art combining karate, Muay Thai and western boxing. Commonly practised for self-defence, kickboxing is a rigorous contact sport that provides mental stimulation, stress relief and an intense cardio workout. It has been projected as a sport that empowers, and its popularity is ever-rising with the growing ideal that a healthy, fit and toned body supersedes that of the outdated skinny, stick-thin aesthetic. 70% of UCLU’s Kickboxing Club members are female – a testament to the increasing appeal of combat sports to the women of this generation.
Anna’s kickboxing tip: “Kickboxing is one of those sports where you do not need any experience to start. Work at your own pace, but be consistent with your workouts if you want results. We practise every Monday and Thursday from 7-8 and Tuesdays at 3-4 at Astor College Gym!”
James North, Yoga & Meditation Society Treasurer
There are many different forms of yoga – ashtanga yoga, hatha yoga and restorative yoga among others – but UCL’s Yoga & Meditation Society practises vinyasa flow yoga, which focuses on the connection of breath with movement through various poses. An incredibly “zen” form of exercise, yoga helps with winding down after a long day of work and lectures while simultaneously improving a yogi’s fitness. It is also known for its injury prevention and recovery properties (sworn by Olympic athletes, celebrities, and professional sportsmen alike).
James’ top yoga tip: “Try a few different practices and find the one which suits you best – and don’t be afraid to vary the styles.”
So there’s a brief roundup of the sports that have come into their own this year. Who knows what obscurely weird and wonderful sports will be the fad in 2016… I’m looking forward to finding out and hopefully you are too! #2016NewYearsResolution here we come.
Images courtesy of: Wikimedia