Beach boxing has taken New Brighton by storm, with over 200 people now turning up for sessions in New Brighton all in the interests of exercise and mental wellbeing.
John Bullock, a former British Thai and Kick-boxing champion, has swapped Miami for Merseyside after coaching all over the world. Unfulfilled on “Civvy Street” he set up beach boxing, in New Brighton.
The first sessions began during COVID on New Brighton beach, with social distancing still in place. An affiliated Facebook group has now amassed over 220 members, who attend either beach boxing or beach boxing ramblers, a group who walk alongside Bullock every Sunday across Formby beach.
Bullock said: “Working out in a fantastic location is all well and good but being with people is the greatest thing and listening to people talk afterwards with a cup of coffee to each other means that I must have done something right.”
Beach boxing sessions feature a range of different exercises and movements to enable the body to realise its true potential without over exertion, no matter what the fitness levels.
Paul Wood, 50, from Aigburth, has been taking part since the very start and has noticed significant improvements in his physical health.
He said: “I feel much looser when I wake up nowadays, before I used to feel like my muscles would ache and I couldn’t move very well but since doing beach boxing I feel much fitter and I feel like I can control my breathing a lot better too.”
Every session ends with 10 minutes of Thai Chi, which is gentle meditation to relax the body and to encourage breathing slowly to release any tension the body may have and Wood says it has changed the way he breathes for the better.
The sessions take place at 7:15 am every Friday morning. This may seem like winter madness for many but to beach boxers in New Brighton it is a challenge that they take in their stride.
Hayley Hilton, 48, says it prepares her for the day: “There are some mornings where it is harder to get up than others and some days it feels colder than others too but once you get warmed up and start exercising you just forget about all that anyway.”
Hilton is an independent business owner who decided to move to the area from Chester because of how much she values the friends she has made through the beach boxing community.
She said: “Initially a friend brought me along when I was staying in the area and I just really enjoyed it. I just got to know the people through turning up and, interestingly, I had that much fun being a part of the community that I now live here.”
Beach boxing is a catalyst for positive change in lifestyle that has helped Bullock to stay fit as he gets older. The 60-year-old from Ormskirk is yet to miss a session that is not cancelled due to natural causes or emergencies, and he is showing no signs of stopping.
Bullock said: “A large part of the battle is being committed enough to get up in the morning and I think once you have made that commitment you have got the whole day to yourself to take on whatever other challenges life throws at us.”
The group is a diverse community of age groups ranging from early twenties all the way up to mid sixties. Yet everyone feels part of the community as much as the next person. During the pandemic a majority of the group felt isolated and affected their mental health.
Diane Devlin, 58, has lived in New Brighton all her life and spoke very openly about her mental health struggles during COVID. She said: “I was desperate for friends and to be able to get out of the house around my working hours as I was working remotely at the time.
“I saw this group and thought I would give it a go and it has absolutely expanded my horizons with regards to socialising and friendship.”
Beach boxing has enabled Diane and many others to feel less alone whilst also providing benefits to people’s physical health.
Beach boxing has been a catalyst for a positive change in lifestyle for everyone involved and it is only expanding.
WATCH as Mersey Sport Live’s Connor Leese popped along to New Brighton to see what beach boxing is all about >>>