Fencing exercises the body and mind

For many people, the start of a new year is an invitation to take on new challenges. This may include dieting, quitting smoking or beginning a fitness regimen. Those who have been involved in a workout program are often looking for some new element. Fencing is a worthwhile consideration.

The origins of fencing can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Rome, yet it remains both a physical and mental challenge even today. Participation is not dependent on age, size or gender.

Fencing builds stamina, strength and balance. Each match involves a series of advances and retreats combined with the skillful use of a weapon called a foil.

The sport appears to emphasize upper body strength but it is the lower body and core muscles that are crucial for success. Most athletic activities are based on forward rather than lateral movement. Fencing is among the activities that requires sideways movements that help train the neuromuscular system to avoid potential lateral falling injuries.

Common fencing injuries include wrist and ankle sprains, bruising and strained muscles. Physical preparation includes both strength and aerobic training. Meticulous stretching of upper and lower extremity muscles as well as core muscles is imperative to avoid injury.

Fencing is a sport in which lessons are necessary for full enjoyment and safety. Aaron Hughes, Head Fencing Coach at St. Bernard High School and Eastern Connecticut State University, offers weekly lessons and training sessions at Fitness World in Norwich.

“Participants are surprised at the amount of stamina and concentration required for fencing,” said Hughes.

One recent Sunday, local radio talk show host Lee Elci and I joined a class hosted by Hughes. We both enjoyed the class and competitive dueling afterward.

Fencing is a sport that exercises both the body and mind at any age.

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