To the point

October 10, 2004

Fencing suits fitness and fashion freaks, says Claudia Croft

It hasn't been easy finding a form of physical activity that satisfies my strict criteria. First, I have to look good while doing it (well, I am a fashion editor). Second, it must be socially and mentally enriching (no mindless repetitions in the gym for me). It must also fit seamlessly into my existing lifestyle and, last but not least, it must aid general toning, particularly in the bum area. As showjumping (love the gear, good for the bottom) is too inconvenient for a central London dweller like myself, I decided on fencing.

It has everything that I need. The outfit is really cool: a chic quilted vest, stylish cropped trousers, an impressive gauntlet and a mask (so nobody can see you without make-up on). Fencing also happens to be an elegant sport, as elaborately choreographed as a classical dance, and if you suffer from bad posture, it will improve it.

It's physically taxing, too, relying as it does on lightning-fast footwork, deep lunges and swift parries. These quick, controlled movements are a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness, and the experts say fencing burns a fabulous 390 calories an hour. As well as advancing your French vocabulary, it can also improve eye-hand co-ordination and is a fantastic workout for the bottom and thigh muscles.

Fencing inspired costume designs: Denis Gagnon
(not part of ST publication)

Socially, it’s pretty good, too. Admit to doing yogalates and nobody will look up from their Sancerre. It’s so much more impressive to say “I can’t do Wednesday, I’ve got my fencing class”, then sit back and revel in the chorus of “Oooh, fencing”. The sport has been described as chess at 800mph. It’s tactical and brainy (unlike aquaerobics), and that means clever people do it.

I also recommend fencing to the lovelorn, particularly if they are looking to meet an athletic intellectual. I have persuaded one of my female friends to come along with the intention of doing just that. Fencing is also good if you like arty types. Lots of actors do it as part of their theatrical training, so you never know who you might meet. My instructor was an officer on a Russian nuclear submarine, and taught the Russian president’s bodyguards the finer arts of swordsmanship. Beat that.

So, fencing is good for the body, good for the mind, good for the dress sense and potentially good for the love life, too. Perfect.

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London Fencing Club is the best and the busiest fencing club in the UK providing coaching and training facilities for more than 300 regular members and hundreds of adult beginners. We also offer fencing classes for children, after school clubs and team building events. The Club employs eight Fencing Masters of the highest calibre.