Gillian Cox

Sydney Mothers getting fighting fit!

Sick of the boring fad diets and monotonous training programs, some Aussie mums are turning to mixed martial arts (MMA) to keep fit, lose weight and challenge themselves.

Yoga classes or group fitness sessions might be where you’d expect to find most mothers seeking to keep fit, clad in activewear.

But for some Aussie mums, this full-contact combat sport (also known as cage fighting) is exactly what they need to re-energise their life and lose some serious weight.

Eight months ago, Sydney mother-of-two, Gillian Cox was looking for a challenge to shake up her fitness regime, when a friend from her mothers’ group suggested she take part in a mixed martial arts challenge – Wimp 2 Warrior.

The Wimp 2 Warrior program takes a group of novices and trains them in mixed martial arts culminating in competing in an amateur fight.
With no background in MMA, the 40-year old was understandably reluctant at first.

“I would never have done something like that, it looked really intense,” she said.
But Gillian decided to take the plunge and, after undertaking the Wimp 2 Warrior program in 2019, she felt she grew as a person.

In June 2019, Gillian and 30 other competitors began their fitness journey.
Five days a week – for 20 weeks – the group would train in wrestling, striking, strength and conditioning along with sparring. As the weeks progressed, training started to become more intense.

“Bloody Empowered”

On 6 December 2019 after almost five months of training, Gillian fought her first MMA bout. Although she lost, she says the challenge was a life-changing moment that will stay with her forever.

It’s hard to put into words, but you do feel pretty bloody empowered. It makes me really proud – it sounds so cheesy, but I feel like I can do anything.

Life-Changing

Violet Biddlecombe is another young mum who has become a big convert to mixed martial arts. The 36-year-old single mother of three, from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, has trained in MMA for just over four years and says it has taught her resilience and perseverance in life.

“Like with MMA training, I just need to keep turning up, and I throw that (principle) into everything in life I do now,” Violet said.

As a single mum, training is also vital to her wellbeing, she says.
“It’s time for me where I don’t think about food shopping, I don’t think about bathing the kids or dinner, And the support system I have built through MMA is very much like a family now.” she said

Weight loss

Violet has also seen tremendous physical results. After having her first baby, she put on 28kg, with her weight peaking at 88 kilograms. It wasn’t until she began training MMA that Violet started to seriously shed the excess weight.
These days, she weighs in at around 60 kilograms.

“I lost a bit of weight before training MMA, but these last four years of training I’ve got a lot leaner,” she said.

Violent stigma

Violet believes if more women could get past the violent stigma surrounding the sport, more could follow in her footsteps and embrace MMA.

Made famous by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts is often seen as a violent and brutal sport, even Gillian and Violet admit they had that view before they started training in the sport.

Now, they have come to the realisation that it’s all about the fulfilment of learning something and challenging yourself.
“The attitude externally when you don’t understand the sport is ‘you’re going to get beaten up, you’re going to get hurt – but that’s not what it’s about at all,” Gillian said.

“For most of the people who do it, it’s for the challenge.”
Violet agrees. “I think when people understand and see how it isn’t about violence, they get quite fascinated,” she said.

‘More mums’

Mick McSevney is the head coach at Wimp 2 Warrior Northern Beaches and has also trained both Gillian and Violet. He believes that there is a steady increase in mothers training MMA as it becomes more mainstream. “I see more and more mums joining MMA as it becomes better understood,” He said

McSevney also says they aren’t to be taken lightly in a fight either.
“The mums have something in them that isn’t matched by other women,” he said
“When they go out to a fight they are often thinking about their kids. It’s this motherly instinct that makes them much more intense fighters”

MMA for mums

So, should more mums try MMA? Well, both Gillian and Violet think so! “Absolutely, I don’t think they (mums) understand what they could get out of it,” Violet said

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole entire life
“I totally recommend it to everyone. If you commit to it for at least a month, more than likely you’re going to be addicted.”
And, they say, most importantly, their kids couldn’t be prouder of them.

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