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A straight right and a left punch

A straight right and a left punch

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Janneke Swinkels


UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Box-it.

The beginner: Never really understood why professional boxers start hanging on each other exhausted in only the fifth or sixth round? After fifteen minutes of Box-it, it suddenly seems quite logical.

“I won't be teaching you the perfect boxing technique, for that you need to go to a boxing school,” says trainer Sandra Sanders-van Wijk to an overfull hall. “Our aim is proper cardio and power, using as many muscles as possible.” The music starts, and after a hefty warming-up, we are allowed to put on the boxing gloves. That immediately feels a lot cooler, even more so when the first straight right is delivered to the punching bag. That coolness quickly disappears when a shoelace comes undone and has to be tied again. Then the gloves turn out to be ponderous affairs that are only good for punching.

“Time for a combination,” shouts an enthusiastic Sanders-van Wijk while boxing and still having breath enough to sing along with the music every now and again. “You start with a straight right, followed immediately by a punch at the same height with your left hand, then a sideway right, and you end with a left on the level of the liver. Remember to keep up your guard, holding your hands in front of your face all the time.” A little later, when she gives the reporter, who has lost the plot completely, a couple of tips (“turn your hip when you punch, and keep your left hand high”), she says: “Don't think.” It works. Don't think, just hit. Or kick. Because, after some exercises on the ground, the feet are let loose on the punching bag too. When the hour is almost up, and heads are red and sports shirts drenched, it appears that (kick-)boxers cannot do without stomach muscles either. Sitting in front of the pole, they take a hammering. “It is only three minutes,” the instructor says encouragingly. ONLY three minutes? Then there is applause, the lesson is over. Now all that remains, is to try and raise the arms to pull the sports bag from the locker.

The expert: “You learn the basic techniques of kick-boxing,” says Sandra Sanders-van Wijk, who started teaching at UM Sports when she was a student and now, as a trainee cardiologist, she is still teaching. “I really like doing it, it gives you so much energy and you can release all your aggression.” In addition to her work and her four-month-old daughter, she exercises about three to four times a week. 

The footwork and the correct punching technique (always keep your wrist and hand on the same line as your lower arm) take some time to learn. “I won't correct a beginner fifteen times in the first lesson, because that person will feel foolish and never come back. I give it in small doses, a little bit more each lesson.” The expert thinks that Box-it doesn't cause many injuries. “Only if you already have problems with your shoulder or wrist, then I wouldn't advise doing it.” And punching without gloves is not recommended either. “You would ruin your knuckles.”

Target group: For everyone who wants to train a lot of muscles and who is not afraid of intensive exercising. There are - as is often the case with the UM Sports lessons - a lot of girls this Tuesday evening, but also a few fanatic men. Kick-boxers, Sanders-van Wijk knows, who attack the punching bag faster than fast. “They really let go.”

The facts: Tuesday from 19:30-20:30, Thursday from 17:45-18:45, and Friday from 19:15-20:15. Please note that the maximum number of participants is 32. First come, first served.



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