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ProTom Fitness

Happy Halloween 2018 - The gym nightmare

I am in pain when I see you in pain or even worse when I see your future and get to the point when you will be in serious pain from doing things wrong in the a gym! 




You have 24 hours on this Halloween to get in touch and ask our help for free! 


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3 excuses successful people never make




“It’s too hard’


Personally, one of the best aspects in getting fit and healthy was the broadening of my physical capabilities. Realising I could participate in opportunities I once shied away from meant I also broadened my life experience and made many subsequent achievements. Whilst you should never be ashamed to find something difficult, problems will occur when difficulties are avoided altogether. A gruelling exercise is probably a very effective exercise or requires greater strength to carry out. This should be motivation at its best! It is all perception. At ProTom, we tackle tough exercises, lack of training space and time and commitment issues with a ‘head on’ approach. This attitude strengthens our community and encourages self-competition. You might move well, but you could always move better.


Recently, I was lucky to witness a live talk show interview with one of 2018’s most successful athletes, Dina Asher-Smith. Dina is the first British women to be awarded three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay final during the European Championships. During her interview, Dina spoke about coping with rising expectations within her field and something in particular that stuck with me - the theory of ’talking yourself into success’. This theory suggests that tapping into your psyche and feeding off positive affirmations can guide you to victory!





No, I’m not implying Dina talked her way into winning the 100m final (if only it were that easy). Instead, I feel that this idea of self encouragement should be championed. Th only thing stopping us from achieving our best, is ourselves! As children, with some support and guidance, we taught ourselves to walk, speak, read and write, and now as adults, we are too quick to judge our capabilities and more often than not, we reject anything that is, ‘too hard’.


My personal experience denotes that showing up to the gym is the hardest part and is crucial to your success. I can also guarantee that the first round of *seemingly impossible exercises* do get easier during the second sequence! Sharing exercise sessions alongside like minded people or 1:1 assistance from a well educated trainer can particularly help boost gym moral. The trick is to not rely on these factors entirely. Turn up because you want to refine your execution of a particular 4Core exercise or finally master that tricky footwork within Thai kickboxing.


 As you begin to exercise, your body will experience a state of muscle tissue shock. Essentially, exercise is designed to rip apart muscle fibres that then re-grow stronger and thicker. This is the basic process of muscle growth and the reason for soreness at the end of a good workout. Education is our passion. We care for the anatomical and technical side of fitness and our ProTom fitness members share this passion.




“I’m just not a fitness type of person"


As a matter of fact, neither is anyone else. Nobody was born an exercise supreme. A perfect example… Having recently become the worlds fastest man, athlete, Usain Bolt, unbelievably has suffered from scoliosis since childhood. To gain his title, Bolt is said to spend about 3 hours a day in the gym. 90 minutes geared towards strengthening his back and core alongside 90 minutes building muscle and increasing speed and agility. 





Even with a valid excuse to stop, Bolt took his success further than any other man on this planet. When in doubt, envision your fellow gym goers as competitors that are training harder than you. You must win.

Self doubt is a sign of mental weakness. No longer feeling the urge to push yourself is natural but should be closely monitored and reviewed to ensure success. I cannot emphasise the importance of good nutrition enough. Your diet should compliment your workouts. Mainstream media confuses what should be a very simple task. Our bespoke, ProTom cookbook is full of irresistible and inspirational recipes. Drop us a message to receive a copy for free!


A new study suggests that bringing about positive change within one area of your life can instinctively prompt desires for positive change in other areas. This study is called the, ’transfer effect’ and implies that exercise can create powerful desires to eat healthier and vice versa! Fit body, fit mind = better decision making.



“I don’t have the time or facilities" 


Featured below is a video of company owner and trainer, Tom Lakos, showing us that there is never an excuse not to get active! Using some alternative tools at Lopesan Villa Del Conde Resort in Gran Canaria, he set up his own dipping station.  Re-direct negative energy into breaking down an event into manageable tasks. Get up. Tick. Get dressed. Tick. Turn up. Tick… and then reward good behaviour with even more good behaviour!



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See full video on our instagram 


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See full video on our instagram


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The most modern and popular answer for those with awkward time schedules is online training. This training method is not only highly beneficial to both beginners and experienced athletes, it is easy to access and follow at your convenience. You can also now find us on MOVEGB.


Get in touch now to receive your half price trial session.


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Training Partner wanted in Bishopsworth! (BS13)


We are urgently looking for a training partner for one of our clients. He currently trains twice a week- once with us doing 1-2-1 PT and once at home with one of our other clients; he is looking for someone to do one more session a week with him at his home in Bishopsworth (BS13).  


If you or someone you know is interested in getting into shape and is looking for a training partner to help keep them motivated and to share accountability with this could be what you are looking for! 




To register your interest contact us by clicking the link and completing the "contact us" form and telling us you are interested in training with Matt.


Contact us Here


Many thanks



ProTom Fitness

Looking for a training partner in Longwell Green


We are urgently looking for a training partner for one of our clients. She is currently a couple of months pregnant and would like to train for another 4 months to keep fit until birth! Her previous training partner has now left and our client is unable to afford our full fee training on a 1:1 basis. 


If you or someone you know is interested in getting into shape and would like to join us every Saturday morning  at 8am or sometimes 8:30am at Longwell Green BS30, please respond directly to this email. 

 Training parner chimp


We will be giving a special discount because we don't want our client to stop training!


We also have two spaces to fill in on Tuesday 6PM and Friday 6PM Group Personal training.


So please, contact us if you can help or if you would like to join! Interested in both male and female clients please! 

Many thanks,



Contact us



Essential 'His' and 'her' wedding fitness programmes



ProTom fitness takes pride in designing training programmes specifically for ‘him’ and ‘her’.  We have helped brides and grooms loose weight and tone up for their weddings for many years and understand that during this magical period, you ought to be looking and feeling incredible. Of course, this does require some graft on your part but you will enjoy the benefits of your toned body and new found confidence along the way and thereafter. Below is a review from Charlotte, a client that trained with us during her wedding period. 



Our training methods are carefully designed to refresh and stretch muscles, improve flexibility, address any longstanding or new movement issues whilst giving an all-over fat busting workout.   


Our service provides you with education as well as physical instruction, regardless of whether you are using our 1:1/group services or our sister companies, 4Core fitness’s online training platform. Training with us ensures you have no excuse not to train. You can access our services in many locations across Bristol or virtually - anywhere, anytime. Receiving support from a knowledgeable trainer has never been so easy as you prepare to start your new life together.


Delly weight loss



Featured in the images above is Delly, a client of ours who trained with us to get fit for her wedding. Delly's brilliant transformation progress was down to discipline, hard work and dedication to exercise and eating well. 

Shown below is an article from a magazine we were featured in called, ‘Your Bristol & Somerset wedding’ The article was published in February 2018 by our fitness writer, Florence Kingham and focuses on how you can look your best on your wedding day.


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Do you have an event approaching? Would you like to learn exercise discipline and how to move well? ProTom fitness is always around to give advice and support.


Fill out our contact form by clicking the button below to discuss how we can assist you.


Or book a session with MOVEGB now. 



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A workout disguised


It is no surprise that people are turned off exercise.


Do you have the time and patience to accept discomfort in return for a future reward?


A 2006 a Duke university research paper found that more than 40 percent of the actions people perform each day weren’t actual decisions, but instead habits. (Neal, David T., Wendy Wood, and Jeffrey M. Quinn. “Habits—A repeat performance.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 15.4 (2006): 198–202.)


By way of discipline, your habits can be changed. Discipline is also an effective method of learning patience and patience enables you too persevere in physically and mentally demanding situations such as exercise, whilst also improving your ability to


⁃                make clearer decisions

⁃                reduce stress

⁃                create a better relationship with fitness and those around you


The phycological act of disciplining your mind can take time. Exercise and discipline are quite similar. Both acts are as much empowering as they are draining. According to it takes on average about 66 days to form a new habit (but this really depends on the person and circumstance). Thankfully, there are tricks that can be used to train your brain to develop more patience which in turn will make a gym workout sound more appealing. One of those ticks is to disguise your workouts!


Despite it’s bad reputation for blood and violence, boxing is an intellectual sport based on technique and co-ordination. Once you have tapped into your inner self and adrenalin kicks in, punches generally don’t hurt, they are just numbing. This is one of the most misunderstood things about boxing. Do you ever see boxers crying with pain in the ring? Exactly.


In the same way as meditation, boxing gives you a deeper sense of connection to your body. This enables you to explore new areas of your brain that have not yet been mapped. The body reacts negatively to anything it is not used too. Training your body to not react to pain in boxing is similar to getting used to going to the gym in general. Psychologically, our body's natural reaction will be to freak out because it is participating in something unusual.  


Let us imagine you are a young Ramon Dekkers - a  Muay Thai fighter who will someday win the world kickboxing championship 8 times.




It’s 1981 in Breda, the Netherlands. You are 12 years old. Your mother has encouraged you to take up martial arts so you head down to a local studio to try a sport you have no experience in. For support, your mother sits ringside. Initial motivation by way of family support is very important but Dekkers cannot rely on motivational support from others to carry him to the world championship! ...You must do this alone.




"It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is necessary" - Winston S. Churchill 


Suddenly, your heart rate and respiration increases as you approach the ring. Although, the experience of a new activity entertains your brain as it builds new connections in uncharted areas of the mind. So-much-so that you forget you are exercising entirely! For the next 4 years, you train consistently. Training becomes second nature rather than a chore. You get better and more disciplined everyday. It wasn’t easy at the beginning but you’ve persevered and now that you are 16, it’s time for your first fight.


The physical consequence of being punched amplifies the phycological reaction of being punched. If unable to take control of your bodies reactions during a fight, you will end up in a continuous loop of disorientation and panic. Because you have disciplined your body to deal with pain, you become aware that actual pain itself is not significant. It is the panic that makes boxing and exercise in general an unpleasant experience. Knowledge is power. Your opponent is not only older than you, he is much more established. An understanding of how to stop the shock cycle enables you to win the fight with a spectacular knockout!


Ultimately, the main desire within a workout is to ensure your muscles move as much as possible.  As children we ran for hours playing games such as ‘It’, ‘Capture the Flag’ and ‘Cops and Robbers’. For Ramon Dekkers, his playground was quite literally the boxing ring but I have no doubts he enjoyed a game of ‘tag’ from time to time. Learning how to take a punch in boxing is similar to beginning an exercise routine. Both activities involve re-wiring the brain to anticipate a physical effect and soften a physiological effect.


Many fighters have been famously injured during fights without even realising! The sheer adrenaline pulsing through your system masks the pain. Below I have included a two examples extreme boxing injuries that fighters have fought through. ProTom fitness does not recommend persevering in the same way at home.


In 2011, in the final seconds of the 3rd round of a UFC boxing match, Thiago Silva left Vera with life changing injuries to his face. Vera caught a glimpse of his rearranged face in a monitor and laughed! Whilst here at ProTom, we are not laughing.  



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The first round of a fight with McGregor left Nate Diaz's face in a bloodbath which continuously got worse and worse throughout the fight. McGregor opened up previous wounds from other fights.






Diaz's comment on still standing post-fight whilst McGregor was taken hospital for leg injuries. (The 2 million pay-out probably helped to soften the blow.)



If you would like to gain invaluable MMA skills, fill out one of our simple contact forms now or - book a session with MOVEGB today. 


Get more info now



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Swiping up or shaping up? Athletics vs aesthetics.



One of the biggest problems within the fitness industry is ‘body ideals’. In reality, there should be no ‘ideal body’ because every person has a unique body shape and appearance. An athletic body has recently become the one of the most desirable body types in modern culture. Emphasising the function of your body over the presentation is a very body positive move for our society.







Sadly, problems arise through the use of social media when distorted imagery involving health, beauty and fitness is distributed to online users. For example, non-athletic models or celebrities posing in athletic advertising for clothing. How is the rest of the population supposed to compete against this one ideal form of beauty and health? Annoyingly, you don’t have to be athletic to look athletic. A modern take on gaining the perfect body includes awkward camera angles and disgustingly bright lighting. Regrettably, fresh air, a prolonged life span and a naturally healthy glow doesn't appeal in the same way a digitally enhanced 6-pack and a fierce online presence does.


Despite this, todays post focuses on championing a naturally athletic body! The benefits of good health and exercise make noticeable differences in your over-all well being and happiness. Prior to getting fit, I had no understanding of how much my life would change! Aside from finally fitting into my size 10 clothing (that had been hidden in the attic for 5+ years) my confidence suddenly soared and I woke up feeling mentally strong and positive every. single. day. Of course, I face difficulties at times but my ability in managing these difficulties is significantly improved. Gaining control over my physical body helped me gain control over my emotional intelligence.


Getting fit is all about creating a map between your brain and your body. Part of this is learning to Identify, attend and manage particular emotions. Your training should always be a responce to your body and learning to move well largely depends on how in sync your body is within it’s environment.


Time spent attempting to look athletic in social media posts would be better spent improving your physical and mental capabilities. Future proofing the body is essential for those looking to keep their range of motion and mental health into their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s +. Avoid weakened bones, high blood pressure, heart problems, back pain etc. through low intensity body weight and resistance training.


ProTom fitness provides PT and Group PT as well as links to 4Core Fitness training and online 4Core training to all ages regardless of your physical capabilities. One fitness industry myth states you have not trained hard enough until you are exhausted! This is simply untrue. Extreme stress on the body and your nervous system is difficult to recover from and unnecessary.


Another point to highlight is that stretching is underrated! Your mobility and flexibility depends on this vital workout element. Stretching offers you protection against injury by keeping your joints, muscles, cartilage and tendons relaxed. 


Hopefully this post has encouraged you to pay close attention to your body, adapt your way of thinking and make decisions regarding your health and fitness with the future in mind. Whilst injury leaves many feeling defeated, ProTom fitness offers high-end services designed to strengthen and stabilise particular problem areas within the body.


Get in touch with the team now and realise your current and future potential!



Future proof my body.


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Fit body, fit mind.


An analysis of the representation of women in male dominated sports, specifically boxing.



I'd like to set the tone for this article by sharing 2 screen shots with you.


I googled the word 'boxing'. 


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Take note - there is no reference to women in either the google search or the image search.


During my final year at The University Of The West Of England, I wrote my dissertation on how women are represented in male dominated sports. I was inspired to write about this topical subject because of the reaction women receive when it becomes known that we participate in sport. 


This article is insightful as too how images and advertisements are constructed and fed to us and what impact these images have on our society. Please note - I am posting my dissertation with a few adjustments but I have left my referencing in as to ensure credit is given for ideas!


Keywords: Gender differences, body image, stereotypes gender, objectification, sexualisation, boxing.




Boxing champions, Jane Couch, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate do not fit into generalised female stereotypes that women, ‘punch like a girl’ yet have all been victims of gender inequality during their careers. The stereotype is so strong that even women who don’t fit stereotypical female appearances are still ‘second-guessed’ by men in terms of power and skill.

This academic paper aims to discuss and challenge issues of objectification of women in today’s society. In particular, the perception and consideration of women as well as the development of the current concept of gender equality will be illustrated with a view to discussing how gender stereotyping is and can be controlled.


Boxing represents an extreme example of circumstances where females are hyper sexualised and stereotyped, and, as such, it will be analysed in order to illustrate how these generalisations affect modern women.


The author will attempt to critically evaluate major factors, including gender stereotypes, body image, sex differences, and media portrayals, which contribute to the weak, hyper-sexualised representation of women in our present community.

This essay concludes that whilst prestigious media holds responsibilities for misrepresentations of women in sport, if used to send positive, encouraging messages to and about women, it could be the influential push society needs to re-consider what is it to be a woman in sport.

Despite these issues surrounding objectification of women, our community has generated a strong female generation that will not only fight within a boxing ring, but also fight for their equality rights.


Act like a lady


Assignment of a socially constructed gender role is a typical first experience a human being undergoes. As we grow, particular names, objects and complimenting colours are matched to us within a strict male and female bias to help classify us within a gender boundary (Blinde & Taub, 1992, Koivula, 1995, 2001, Kolnes, 1995, Ross & Shinew, 2008).


This stems from stereotyping (Berk, 2009). Stereotyping is a widely held/fixed and over simplified image or idea of a person or thing, a ‘standardized picture in the head’ (Lippmann, 1992). Stereotypes create archetypes (Jung, 1991) where models of a typical example of a certain person or thing are kept in the collective unconscious.


Binary gender stereotyping leaves those not following gender norms in an unnecessarily awkward and unfair position within our patriarchal society. Western gender policing makes it difficult for women to take on predominantly male or stereotypically aggressive professions and hobbies (Anika K. Warren, 2009 p. 6 Krane et al., 2004).


In sport, not only must women prove themselves against their male counterparts in terms of skill, they must also fit nicely into generic female stereotypes by acting stereotypically feminine (Nelson, 1998, p.145). Krane (2001) expresses, “Sportswomen tread a fine line of acceptable femininity…engaging in athletic activities is empowering, yet maintaining an acceptable feminine demeanour is disempowering”.


Problems occur when female athletes demonstrate predominantly male characteristics. In 1968, Olympic officials introduced gender testing. Female Olympians were asked to expose their nude bodies to an Olympic panel to prove their gender (Peel 1994, Fausto-Sterling, 2000). Women are targeted for sexually objectifying treatment more than men/boys (Fouts & Burggraf 1999, 2000, Fromme & Beam). This degrading form of gender testing developed further into chromosome and testosterone testing (Peel 1994).


Muscly, female Olympic athlete, Dutee Chand was banned from the Olympics after Olympic officials expressed doubts about her true gender. ‘Some in the news were saying I was a boy, and some said that maybe I was a transsexual. I wondered how I would live with so much humiliation’ (New York Times magazine, 2016).


Media gathers and issues its own idealistic version of culturally important and relevant information to share and influence society to ‘perceive[s] movements about gender and gender itself (Wood, 2010, p.259). In Western culture, media holds prestige (Dijk, 1995).


The marginalizing of female athletes creates false impressions that women do not play or are not good at sport (Kane and Greendorfer 1994:35). When women do take on professions such as, boxing, football and hockey (to name a few), the heavily male dominated media pays little attention (Bernstein, 2002, Bishop, 2003, Fink and Kensicki, 2002).


On the rare occasion disciplined sports women do get media coverage, they are often subject to name-calling, comparison to men/animals and sexualisation. For example, ‘Perfect Guo junging makes everyone fall for her’ (Titan sports weekly headline, 27 August, 2004). Men simply do not know how to speak about successful sports women.


Spot the difference


The juxtaposition between two UFC (United Fighting Championship) promotional boxing posters shows contrast in how boxing is publically advertised depending on what gender is fighting.

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The first image is for the 18th December 2013, depicting professional boxers, Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey. Within this highly contrasted, sepia toned image, the women appear to almost collide whilst striding effortlessly and elegantly towards each other through thick white mist.


Other than hand wraps, these women are nude, face-to-face and carefully poised to show off their curvy bodies. Their long, tousled hair flows behind them. Whilst Rousey gazes into the camera lens, Tate looks away. The competition name, ‘UFC 168’, and female fighter’s names, ‘Tate’ and ‘Rousey’ are highlighted in bold, red font. All other text and in particular, the ‘vs’ blends into the background in a soft grey colour.




The second poster is for the 16th November 2013, showing male fighters, Georges St Pierre and Jonny Hendricks wearing typical boxing gear, consisting of black shorts and hand wraps bearing the ‘UFC’ brand name.


Neither man looks at the lens; instead the professionals stare eye-to-eye with raised and veiny arms. Crisp white font placed centrally against a black background reads, ‘The power to shock the world, UCF 167’. It is clear that this poster is advertising a boxing match. This image has also been edited to make it appear as though there are dragged light blotches on the camera lens.


Behind the posters


Having carefully analysed both professional boxing posters, the following observations can be made.

Authenticity within the female poster is under question. Camera angles imply that Tate and Rousey are coded with ‘To be looked at-ness’ (Mulvey, 1975). Photographs are able to construct differences between men and women and address oblivious audiences as if the differences are natural and real (Duncan, 1990, pp. 24-25).


Tate and Rousey are misplaced in a nude relationship imitation where strong intimacy signifiers are performed (Bathes Mythologies, 1957), whilst Pierre and Hendricks participate in active combat. Both men fit the masculine stereotype by being large with toned and defined muscles (Dworkin, 2001; Krane et al, 2004) as well as the boxing stereotype through the suitable, ‘UFC’ branded (and approved), boxing clothing worn.


A war on social power over sexual power declared through images in ads. Bright lighting and high contrast act as visual codes of glamour within the female advert. Retro styling is used to creates an illusion that this image is dated, thus making sexism and fetish imagery to depict power relations more appropriate in the time frame and less obvious (Williamson, 2003).


The sepia filter also blends the background and foreground, distracting the viewer from the only item in the image signifying boxing; hand wraps (not bearing UFC brand logo, unlike the male hand wraps).


Often, women can obtain jobs because of their looks (Nina Power, 2009, p.15). Unfortunately, this leads to the creation of fake stereotypically female media personas, which seem to be necessary in order for a women to become successful and to build and maintain a fan base (Power, 2009).


Mass media consistently reinforce assumed linkages between women's appearance and their feelings of self-worth (Bloch and Richins, 1992, Downs and Harrison, 1985). The female fighters appear to look like models, ‘marketers compete fiercely to position their products and to design mass media communications so as to embody current ideals of beauty’ (Bloch and Richins, 1992).


The camera angle focuses on Tate and Rousey’s curvy physical appearances. Men are often pictured by face whilst women are pictured by body in media & art (Archer, Iritani, Kimes & Barrios, 1985). We objectify these women through the ‘male gaze’ (Mulvey, 1975). Tate’s disacknowledgement of the gaze upon her adds to the voyeuristic pleasure of the spectator. This poster implies that the provision of sexual entertainment is more feminine appropriate than actual boxing, the sport in which these women have been professionally trained in.


Pierre and Hendricks firm gaze and boxing stance reconfirms to the viewer that these men are focused and ready for combat. The ‘The power to shock the world’ slogan within the male poster reinforces ideas of the strength of these men and is purposely highlighted by the contrasting black background.


Dragged light blotch effects create impressions of rumbling movement made by the sheer power of these men’s punches. The female poster does not possess a slogan or anything to signify power (Barthes). ‘Violent women are always represented as perverse, unnatural, and disturbing, whereas violence is perceived as a male norm’ (McCaughey, King 2009)


Colours can be used to influence emotions (Gombrich, 1977). The competition name, ‘UFC 168’, and female fighter’s names, ‘Tate’ and ‘Rousey’ are highlighted in bold, red font. Red is a signifier (Barthes) for the emotions, passion and desire. Remaining text such as the, ‘vs’, an abbreviation explaining to the viewer the main point of the poster, that Tate and Rousey will be going up against one another, blends into the background in a soft grey colour.


This reiterates that this image does not make it immediately clear to the viewer what the poster is actually advertising; a boxing match, rather than the implied, hidden message or ‘myth’ (Bathes) that this fight will share the same tone as, or literally be, something along the lines of, a girl-on-girl sex tape. The female image may overly adhere to feminine stereotypes because people tend to find things disgusting when they are in the wrong place (Kristeva, J. 1980, P.4).


Predominantly male, sporting event organisers and commentators may create hyper-sexualised and degrading representations of physically strong women, because of a social anxiety towards non-stereotypical feminine women participating in such aggressive, sophisticated and stereotypically male sports.


Women adhering to male stereotype attributes cause gender trouble (Butler, 1990). In an attempt to deal with threat and anxiety, men dress women up and sexualise them. Attractive people are better liked (Brigham, 1980). Could this be an explanation for why Tate and Rousey are depicted so sexually? Alternatively men publically humiliate women. Male BBC presenter, John Inverdale commented on champion tennis player, Marion Bartoli, live on air as she played in Wimbledon.


He said, ‘She was never going to be a looker’ (The Guardian, 2014). ‘Only that which is beautiful is loved, that which is not beautiful is not loved’ (Eco). By participating in a stereotypically male sport and acting with stereotypically male attributes such as aggression, female boxers generally cannot be seen as beautiful and therefore cannot be loved because they are too similar to their supposed gender opposite and are therefore upsetting the gender balance (Fausto-Sterling, 2000). It is only when a sexualised, female ‘Pin up’ style advertisement is constructed that the gender balance can be restored and the threat to the male gender-hierarchy is taken away.


As a result of this sexualised imagery, women’s sport is ridiculed or deemed irrelevant unless highly sexualised. In the film, ‘Some like it hot’ starring Marilyn Monroe, men adhere to Marilyn’s perfectly symbolised performance of womanhood with the simplistic thought process, ‘that’s how you do it’. Marilyn’s sensuality, beauty and grace are directly opposite attributes of a stereotypical male thus creating a harmonious gender binary (Levi-Strauss, 1964) and ridding men of any social anxiety by creating ‘gender balance’.


Punch like a girl


In this section I will introduce seven video stills taken from a video published on You Tube on May 3rd, 2011 called, ‘Jane Couch MBE’. The video (featured below) features British boxing world titleholder, Jane Couch, fist fighting with a male during a garden party. 





In video still 1 we see Couch, a well-built, muscly female wearing a white tank top with cropped, pale blue cargo pants. Her brown hair is partly scraped back from her face whilst the remainder sits at shoulder length in tight curls.


The medium built male has short brown hair and wears a yellow branded t-shirt with jersey shorts. The male laughs and smiles at Couch whilst Couch raises her fists to initiate battle. The male does not raise his fists in an attempt to punch Couch. Instead, he playfully ducks and dodges her quick punches with little success.  




The male is punched in the face and reacts by picking up Couch. Whilst smiling, he throws her over his shoulder as if he is heroically saving her. The male jumps around laughing and chanting, ‘I’m the champion here!’ whilst Couch is still over his shoulder.




Couch quickly jumps down from the male’s arms. With teeth clenched in a focused rage, she hits him in the face once more





The male ducks and whilst protecting his face, he attempts to hit Couch in the groin area. Couch holds his head at a distance so that his punches are unsuccessful.





Couch effortlessly punches the male in the face. The wide mouthed male looks confused and in pain as he takes the hefty punch. 




Onlookers laugh and cheer. One shouts, ‘Go on then’. Jane secures another nasty punch to the face. The male laughs and smiles and once again we hear an onlooker shout louder, ‘Go on then!’. The red-faced male continuously grins whilst pathetically attempting to push Couches hands away. Couch then takes a huge swing and punches the male for the last time.




The male is in disbelief as his mouth begins to fill with blood. Couch growls. Moments later she approaches him sympathetically. Whilst holding his arms at a distance, she hugs him and then walks away whilst laughing and shouting, ‘champion of the world, the whole fucking world!’.


Analysis - Behind the video


Couch has publically proved her boxing abilities in professional boxing on numerous occasions as well as becoming the first officially licenced female boxer in 1998 (Independent, 2014). She also displays a very muscly, athletic figure.

Despite this, it is clear the male doubts her strength and ability. He ridicules and taunts Couch’s ability to fight from the beginning of the video and interestingly he continues to ridicule her throughout, even after receiving punches in the face. The act of picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder indicates further ridicule by roleplaying a ‘damsel in distress’ scenario. Does the male play out these scenarios in an attempt at regaining constraints of patriarchal structures (Heywood and Dworkin 2003)?


Couch mirrors men by acting with stereotypically male attributes such as aggression and dressing in stereotypically male clothing. Media portray women who cross gender “boundaries as “unnatural” and thus “denatures” them as athletes and women” (Costa, Guthrie, 1994). This leads to distortions in what men think women can physically achieve (Higgs, Weiller & Martin, 2003), as well as distortions in what women believe they can physically achieve.


The male may have learnt generic female stereotypes from sources such as the media and applied these stereotypes to Couch thus making him believe that she could not possibly professionally fight. He may be under the assumption that he will not be beaten up by a woman or that all women, ‘punch like a girl’ or in other words, punch pathetically.  


Only when beginning to realise the predicament he is in, does the male duck for protection and interestingly, attempt to hit Couch in the groin. Does the male aim for attack within this specific body area because he feels gender deceived?


Couch acts as the ‘trickster’ by adhering to both male and female stereotypes (Jung). Her boisterous behaviour, broad muscly figure and generic male style clothing confuses the male and seemingly the by-standing onlookers too, who encourage her aggressive behaviour with, ‘Go on then!’ chants. The trickster has no stereotype.


It can be ugly or beautiful including an alternate gender (although it is often referred to in the male pro-noun). The trickster (Jung) slips from one persona to another, upsetting order and disrupting playfully, falling in-between liminality boundaries, just as Couch does. I can’t help but wonder if the onlookers would still encourage Couch’s aggression if she were a man?


The male stereotype is usually varied and capable of anything whilst female stereotypes are strict and unchanging (Wood, T., 1994). If a female acts out of the ordinary for her stereotype, she can create confusion and is labelled. For example, a boy is praised for being unkempt whilst a girl is labelled a Tomboy, whilst in this essay I have labelled Couch as ‘the trickster’ because she does not adhere to her female stereotype. Butler (1990) argues that there is no gender, only sex, and that men and women perform gender.

I have already discussed ways in which women work their way up in sport. Some women have both the skill and looks to attract the same respect and attention men receive from the media.


Other women are sexualised or use sexualisation to gain popularity and sponsorships within sport. There is also a collection of women who aim to be taken seriously in sport by demonstrating that they have the character (rather than the physical ability/capability) to be able to perform.


This is an example of mirroring (Mulvey). Do some women box aggressively because they have previously witnessed aggressive male boxers and aim to fit in with that stereotype?


Modern women are physically strong, independent, self sufficient and strong-willed yet are often only recognised in the media for their looks rather than sports skills (Bernstein). Power is traditionally a masculine trait that women do not possess. Because the majority of known sports women in the media are hyper-sexualised, men have a distorted view of the strength a woman can hold, particularly in sport. Tennis player, Anna Kournikova, is a perfect example of an athlete that has gained huge popularity and sponsorship because of her beautiful appearance, despite not winning any singles tennis titles.


Kournikova has participated in paid endorsements such as the, ‘only the ball should bounce’ advertising campaign for Berlei (2000). The advert sexualises Kournikova by making a joke that her breasts shouldn’t bounce whilst the tennis ball should, when playing tennis. Female athletes may feel pressured to participate in activities such as sexualised photo shoots because attractive people have higher earnings (Harper, 2000).


Being physically attractive gives men the upper-hand within boxing but considering their higher social power and gender alongside participating within typically male sport, there is less need for them to be sexualised. Sexual objectification may also lead to self-objectification (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997). By participating in sexualised photo shoots, Kournikova reinforces the exploitation of women (Carty, 2005) and sets a bad example for developing athletes who may feel they have to self objectify in order to get recognised in sport.




Women in sport suffer from social anxiety. ‘Women consciously watch themselves’ (Berger 1973). Physically strong women such as Olympic athlete, Jessica Ennis and Professional tennis player Serena Williams have spoken out about receiving backlash for their muscular appearances, with many comparing them to apes or men.


This is an example of ‘Gender trouble’ (Butler 1990). In 2015, political commentator, David Frum, tweeted an image of Williams with the accompanying text, “Sterioids? Oh no, no, no. ‘Body image issues’”, he then continued to tweet, making comparisons about her to men who have previously doped in sport such as Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire. In 2014 Williams was one of the most regularly drug tested athletes (Tennis anti-doping programme testing summary, 2014) despite no previous evidence of drug use. When will the harassment end?




 In this essay I have analysed actual and constructed imagery of women participating in male dominated sports in an attempt to understand the ways in which women are represented.

My analysis evidences that strict stereotyping and gender policing can be controlled and amplified by the media, which in turn makes up the basis for degrading sexism and potential coping strategies, such as socially constructed identities within sport.

It is unfortunate that in order to be recognised in sport, women must construct identities which will surely continue to damage female sporting representations.

Generally, men are represented by face (as opposed to body) and are praised as powerful, skillful and active individuals. Meanwhile, women are strictly represented by their stereotype, sexualised and ridiculed for entertainment and pre-judged regardless of their past achievements.

A suggested reason for these unjust representations include an apparent social anxiety experienced by men, which is triggered by women who inadvertently upset the binary gender balance by not following gender stereotypes, thus causing gender trouble (Butler, 1990).

As more and more women participate in amateur and professional, male dominated sports it is retro-thinking (Williamson, 2003) to pre-judge physical capability based on gender or be under the impression that someone can, ‘punch like a girl’.

In my view the male male dominated media undoubtedly contributes to the construction of mis-representations of women in sport. Females have already broken the mould by entering male dominated sports and despite consistent false and underrepresentation of women supplied by media, including continuous hurdle jumping in order to participate in Olympic sports, our society has generated a strong female community that thrives in their chosen sporting professions.

We can only hope future women will stop perpetuating generic female stereotypes and thus stop discourage behavior that negatively affects the respect and position they receive in sport today. However, women cannot be solely blamed for representing themselves in this way.


The media’s constant inadequate representations of sporting females may encourage women to adhere to these stereotypes in order to earn money and become successful (Phoenix, Smith, 2001, p 85), yet this only benefits themselves and not women in sport generally (Carty, 2005).

Considering the powerful amount of influence media holds upon society, I question whether it would be naïve to suggest that the media could use their prestige to send out positive and encouraging messages about female athletes. Surely this would aid the inevitable refinement of sexualised and ridiculed female stereotypes, as well as encouraging more women to engage in sport.

Women are speaking out against their inaccurate representation in the media and showing that despite false pre-conceptions regarding their supposed lack of physical strength, there is absolutely no doubt that their mental strength will enable them to continuously fight for their rights in sport.






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Redefine 'punching like a girl' with ProTom Fitness.

Female empowerment is very topical at the moment. Recent developments in gender equality have lead women to feel as powerful as ever! 


Improve muscle definition, strength, empowerment, self defence skills, co-ordination and organ function by joining one of our energetic weekly sessions. You can book through MoveGB or through our online booking site for 1:1 or group training. Promoting social change has never been easier. 


Bristol girl thai kickboxing training gear


1. Co-ordination and increased responce time.

Growing up with bad co-ordination and balance can have severe effects on your confidence (I speak from experience). Practising quick and repetitive movements regularly under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable instructor will help to re-programme the brain and improve your cognitive perception-procession-responce ability. In time your brain will become more and more familiar with these processes meaning reaction time and reflexes will drastically improve. Sometimes you need to switch off to switch on. 



2. Cardiovascular system

Endurance is essential for any budding boxer. This quick calorie burning workout relies on breath. If you cannot breathe, you cannot fight. Strength and speed won’t save you! Fatigue can only be avoided with careful planning and a strong energy system. For guidance on putting together an effective cardio workout to compliment your boxing training, contact us through the link at the bottom of the page or try one of our 30 min, high intensity HIIT Quick Fit classes. 



3. Tones and defines 

Boxing helps to sculpt every muscle. Each punch requires power from hips and legs alongside Constant hip rotations which effectively tone the core. 



4. Improved strength

Technique is imperative to throwing a good punch. Visibly seeing your own strength put into action is a brilliant confidence booster and a visual representation of how far you have come. Being on the receiving end of a punch and recovering well is even more empowering! Our boxing sessions focus on high intensity cardio, technique and building power. Try it for yourself to explore your capabilities. 



5. Empowerment

Gain personal power and emotional resilience by learning how to box. Learning something new in an unfamiliar environment is tough enough. Training a couple of times a week will boost your progress development and leave you feeling mentally and physically more empowered in no time. 



6. Self defence

Knowing you have physical power is one of the best feelings possible. Being taught self defence in a controlled environment will help you to develop an understanding of your bodies limits. A well disciplined body can anticipate reactions within a threatening situation and avoid the ‘fight or flight’ jitters. Preparation is key. 



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Fighting for your Weight Loss



Watch our freestyle Thai Kickboxing pad-work video featuring one of our clients, Paul. Whist Paul is pretty good, he does occasionally drop his hands too much (especially during his kicks). This video was filmed towards the end of a hard session... so I guess we will cut Paul a little slack.


Kickboxing is a fun and energetic way to tone, lose weight and consistently keep that weight off. One aspect of kickboxing that our clients love is that we train within cardiovascular training system that demands a great deal of concentration. Our clients get tired without even noticing! It is only towards the end of our session that where we finally take a breath and realise how exhausted we are. Thai Kickboxing is an essential sport for those looking to get fit and have fun whilst doing so.


Our passion for correctly taught technique is accentuated after seeing ill-informed trainers instructing paying clients to hit pads with poor or no technique. This infuriates us! There is no point in paying for terribly taught tuition. ProTom Fitness teaches essential MMA skills such as the correct stance and how to balance your weight appropriately. Prior to this training, we ensure you can perform basic functional movements without any issues. A good trainer should always review your level of mobility before beginning boxing (or any other sport) with you. A client will feel and understand when they have performed a a solid strike with good technique. A punch isn't (or at least shouldn't be) just a big swing from the shoulder. This also applies to kicking that appears to look more like a lazy kick, flick or simple lifting of the leg. When performed correctly, a good kick or punch is an end result of kinetic energy built from the ground and transferred through the core. It is the result of the body working in unison to perform a movement. 





ProTom produces strong and resilient cliental by initially teaching basic yet essential body movement techniques. Once a client can move well, we teach striking, combination work and defensive techniques. This eventually builds up to adding more complex actions such as elbow and knee strikes. When a client confidently understands these techniques, a semi-freestyle method of pad work (detailed in the video) is used to help our clients understand how to chain different techniques together and find a rhythm. Our experience finds that pad work such as this can help a clients to understand movement and rhythm much better than any static pad work can and also allows them to stop overthinking every strike thus allowing them to relax and let their reflexes guide them. This can eventually lead to sparring if the client wants to. - Please note that we are not a club and we do not train fighters. Therefore, any sparring is completely optional.


Would you like to lose weight and get fit?

Do you find traditional cardiovascular fitness methods monotonous and repetitive?

Would you like to learn how to better control your body by increasing your strength and flexibility?

Would you like to increase your confidence and learn methods of self defence?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you would flourish in our Thai Kickboxing training system!


For more information on booking our group Thai Kickboxing sessions


click here.


To book our 1-2-1 Thai Kickboxing sessions


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To contact someone directly 


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