The BoxingYoga™ Story
The concept for BoxingYoga™ was conceived at Matt Garcia's Get FIT Not HIT™ boxing club, Total Boxer, in North London in 2011. He wanted to offer his recreational and competitive boxers an effective way of staying healthy and increasing performance. He felt that yoga would be a useful method for strengthening and stretching the entire body as well as improving core strength, coordination, breathing methods, body awareness and posture alignment.
However, none of the yoga disciplines he researched nor classes he attended were effectively targeting the areas that boxers needed. It was obvious to Matt that something had to be created specifically for fighters and he needed the help of a yoga expert to help develop his concept.
Whilst having breakfast in a local café, Matt got chatting about his idea of a ‘yoga for boxers’ with the server, who just so happened to be lifelong yoga practitioner, martial artist and former international contemporary dancer, Kajza Ekberg.
Kajza explained her career as a dancer had been unfairly curtailed after a serious cycling injury and was forcing her to consider her next steps. It became clear to Matt that Kajza was the person he’d been looking for.
What followed was an intense development period with Kajza, Matt and Total Boxer Head Coach, Deniz Ates, creating postures and transitions with the help of physiotherapists, osteopaths and other sports therapists.
Members at Total Boxer were eager to test ‘BoxingYoga’ and they weren’t disappointed. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and classes soon began to fill up. Endorsements began coming in from early adopters, such as boxing champion Yassine El Maachi, Mixed Martial Artist Charlie Watts and super-bantamweight world boxing champion Scott Quigg, who suggested, “A lot of fighters don't know how to stretch properly. BoxingYoga has everything they need.”
In 2013, an offer to exhibit at Europe's biggest Yoga Show in London arose. Matt and Kajza decided it was time to introduce BoxingYoga™ to the wider yoga community where their training method was met with great interest and curiosity. The value of a system for boxers was evident, but it was clear that BoxingYoga™ could also introduce yoga to men and athletes who ordinarily wouldn’t try it.
Word and media interest continued to spread, leading to enquiries from boxing clubs, yoga studios, and health centres throughout the UK as well as diverse sporting groups, including Chelsea FC, the Swiss Olympic Judo team and Saracens RFC, whose performance director, Philip Morrow soon offered, “We couldn't be happier with the effect BoxingYoga is having on the players and their ability to consistently perform at the highest level. I strongly recommend BoxingYoga to everyone.”.
The increasing demand for BoxingYoga™ meant the need for more Coaches and the development of the BoxingYoga™ Teacher Training Course. In December 2013 the training programme was awarded professional accreditation by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and in 2014 the first BoxingYoga™ Teacher Training Course took place at Chelsea Football Club.
Today, BoxingYoga™ Teacher Training Courses can be found in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, India, and the USA, including Yoga Garden in San Francisco, with owner, David Nelson, stating, "In less than a year, I have seen the demand for BoxingYoga classes skyrocket in San Francisco, with teachers in strong demand.”
To accommodate the growing global demand for Courses, the BoxingYoga™ Online Teacher Training Course was introduced, enabling Trainees to study from home with the help of a Head Coach via online video consultation.
As requests for more BoxingYoga™ classes and Coaches increased throughout the world, 2015 saw the creation of the BoxingYoga™ Home Workout on DVD and Download to allow students to benefit from the training system wherever they are in the world.
Also in 2015, the BoxingYoga™ Coaches Association (BYCA) was established to provide ongoing business, marketing and technical support to the ever-growing global community.
As BoxingYoga™ continues to develop globally, so does the journey of the earliest BoxingYoga™ Coaches, who have progressed to become BoxingYoga™ Head Coaches to deliver workshops, masterclasses and Teacher Training Courses around the world.
When Forever Sports Magazine called BoxingYoga™, ‘a fitness phenomenon’ in 2015, Matt and Kajza were taken aback. Considering the worldwide achievements and what the future holds for BoxingYoga™ it would seem they only know about going forward, and long may it continue.
Matt Garcia - Founder & CEO
A talented athlete in his youth, Matt competed nationally in athletics for Queen Elizabeth's Boys, one of the UK's leading grammar schools, and in rugby for Saracens Colts. In his early 20's he trained extensively in Krav Maga and proved a skillful recreational boxer at Islington Boxing Club.
Mentored by ex-British Super Middleweight Enzo Giordano and taught by GB Olympic Boxing Coach Dave Pocknall, Matt became a popular coach for his hardcore, motivating style.
Professionally, Matt is a successful entrepreneur, having developed a number of innovative companies, including one of the UK's first web technology agencies in 1996.
In 2011, Matt wanted a fresh challenge and decided to combine his business skills with his passion for boxing to create the UK's first Get Fit Not Hit™ boutique boxing club, Total Boxer; where everyone can enjoy the thrill and benefits of real boxing training in a welcoming, non-threatening environment.
During the early development process, Matt conceived BoxingYoga™ as a means of helping his boxers improve their strength and flexibility; to prevent injury, maximise power and maintain their health.
Kajza Ekberg - Co-FOUNDER and Master Coach
Although Swedish born, Kajza spent her childhood in India, where her mother was an Ashtanga Yoga teacher, helping her learn the alphabet with asanas and doing headstands before bed.
An all round physical mover, as a gymnast Kajza competed on a national elite level in Sweden, followed by years of boxing and martial arts training, before embarking on her classical dance studies.
A highly-respected international contemporary dancer and teacher, Kajza performed with leading dance companies and taught extensively throughout Europe and North & Central America.
Kajza brought her lifelong knowledge and experience to the BoxingYoga™ development table and was pivotal in developing the training system as we know it today.