Wheeling day in, day out is a workout in itself but if you want to burn calories, lose weight or tone yourself up, going the distance in your chair can be a bit boring. This is where the rough and tumble of boxing comes along to jazz things up a bit.
Boxing is a great sport for someone in a wheelchair because it uses your biggest strength: your arms.
As far as I know, there is no official body looking after wheelchair boxing in Ireland so what I'm doing now is a bit of a DIY job. I've had two sessions so far and I am seriously feeling it in my lower and upper arms as well as the core muscles in my stomach. It makes you work up a serious sweat and the satisfaction levels from boxing are almost immediate.
I contacted White Collar Boxing, who are based in the National Stadium Gym on the South Circular Road, and asked if they had any trainers who would be interested in teaching me the basics. They were extremely helpful and now, with my trainer Richie, we're figuring out what we can and can't do. As I have a spinal condition, my full movement would not be the best so we're discovering what works along the way.
For our sessions, he sits opposite me in a chair and holds up padded gloves for me to hit. I've learnt the four basic punches so far (the jab, the hook, the cross and uppercut) and we're working on muscle use and defense. I'll be moving on to a bag shortly as my strength builds. However, I worry too much about my precious face to get into the ring with another person but we shall see...
The only downside is that your arms will feel the strain for a while but the longer you stick at it, the less of a problem this will be.
There are boxing clubs all over the country and, as I said, I can't seem to find an official body so your best bet with boxing is to contact your local club and see what you can come up with.
Boxing with the Wii sport is another great alternative and unlike tennis on the Wii - where you can win a game with a small flick of the wrist - you put your entire body into it. It's still a great workout even if you're doing it from your couch.
With the real life boxing, it's very early days for me yet but I'll definitely be holding onto boxing as a hobby.