The other night I went to an evening of boxing and burlesque. Not natural bedfellows, you might think, but bare with me...
The evening was at the Transition Zone over in Fulham. Normally I run a mile from the treadmill anonymity of gyms, but this is the sort of space I'd enjoy training in: the urban chic vibe, the music pumping, the relaxed atmosphere and the fierce workouts. It's more of a club really, and a school Mum who's a member invited a couple of us along. She had me at burlesque, obviously.
The evening came about to welcome in one of the new teachers, a boxer, Lily, who is also fabulous burlesque artist, Betty Bedlam. We had our hair braided when we arrived by local salonistas, Blush + Blow, who later gave a tutorial as well. It felt quite scary having my hair pulled off my face like that, I am used to my hair down and now had nowhere to hide, but that was the point of the evening - being out and proud. The 45 minute boxercise class followed. Note to self: when the email comes round inviting ladies to bring wraps if they have them, they weren't meaning my black silk Myla number! Luckily friends were on hand to help me get to grips with how to wrap the cotton straps round my hands for protection, before donning gloves.
Lily was hilarious, with quick one-liners and quips, which was lucky as her workout was deadly serious. Another lesson: if you hide at the back you will get called on it. As in: "Lucy, I can still see you there, raise those knees higher!!!" I reflected that what the great trainers and burlesque dancers (and clowns!) have in common is that ability to use humour, eye contact and charisma, to connect with their audience so we follow wherever they lead, so when I could draw breath, I was laughing too, having a ball swinging punches, ducking, weaving and feeling all the stronger for it. I can't remember the last time I sweat buckets like that.
|Photo credit: Betty Bedlam|
The piece de resistance though was a stellar show from Betty Bedlam herself, who delivered a real punch in a red satin boxing robe and high heels. And while every good burlesque act turns on a hook, what was superb about this one was that the boxing wasn't a gimmick. Betty Bedlam really is a boxer, a fighter to the core. She knows what she is doing and how to translate the swing of the hips needed to throw a blow into that of an agent provocateur. As well as strong and sexy, Betty Bedlam was funny too - the whole idea of burlesque comes from "la burla" a joke, a parody after all. There was a great sense of no holds barred as we laughed, clapped and cheered her on. All in all, it was a knock-out night. Cheers girls!
For more information on classes and events see www.transitionzone.co.uk and on social media.
Find @bettybedlam, and sports nutritionist & private chef Ja Spence @carioca_soul on Instagram.