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The Personal Best Academy is fitness fighting for Mr. Average

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					   Fight Club
                                                                                                  Words
                                                                                                  James Hoy
                                                                                                  Photography
                                                                                                  Angela Ward




   The Personal Best Academy is fitness
   fighting for Mr. Average. James Hoy steps
   into the arena to see how he measures up.


                       W        hen Zara Phythian set up a screen fighting
                                class for the average Joe, perhaps she was
                       not expecting someone quite so Joe Bloggs as me
                       when I went to test my skills on an afternoon crash
                                                                                After a slightly more realistic warm-up of my own
                                                                              –– which thankfully didn’t involve any unnatural
                                                                              limb flinging –– we got down to the basics. Screen
                                                                              fighting is perhaps the less glamorous cousin of the
                       course. The 22-year-old 13-time world martial arts     high-flying martial arts you might see in a Hong
                       champion, screen fighter and now actress also runs     Kong or Hollywood blockbuster. But any action
                       the Personal Best Academy at the Intake Business       film, high-paced drama or even soap opera worth
                       Centre in Mansfield –– a setting which perhaps         its salt will include elements of what Zara teaches
                       belies the first class facilities inside.              at her gym.

                         Stepping into the gym, I was hugely impressed by       In fact, the next time you rub your face in
                       the set-up offered. An array of equipment adorns       sympathy when some adulterer gets his
                       the spacious room including punch bags, crash          comeuppance in the form of an almighty slap in
                       mats for practicing flashy moves, a boxing ring and    Hollyoaks or Coronation Street, you can thank the
                       human-shaped targets called Slam Men to aim your       art of screen fighting. At an early stage the course
                       punches, kicks –– and frustration –– at if you wish.   covers the basics of safety and awareness, control,
■ Fighting fit -       But my stomach sank when I spotted Zara’s              hit reactions, timing, delivering blows, and stunt
Personal Best’s Zara   students warming-up by stretching their                falls and rolls. Fitness is a big part of the
Phythian and Kayley    legs past their heads like you might                       programme because of the demands placed on
Marke show James Hoy   expect a ballet dancer to, knowing                           the actors once they have started working.
what’s what.           I can barely get my leg higher                                They might have to record a draining action-
                       than my chest . . . what had I                                  filled scene several times a day –– and then
                       got myself into?                                                  be prepared to get up the next morning
                                                                                           and do it all over again.




   20   PROFILE AUTUMN   - leisure

				
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posted:2/25/2011
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