Passionate about fitness and personal development at Fight for Peace 

25/04/2017 – Although Athena Bashar, 15, lives just across the road from Fight for Peace in London, it took a while for her to get involved in the activities at the Academy. Since joining the female only boxing and fitness session, however, she hasn’t looked back:

A few years back, Fight for Peace came to do a talk at my school and I got really excited because it was new and I really wanted to start coming but at that time I was really busy. I live just across the road from the Academy and now I am annoyed that I didn’t come earlier. I watched the Academy getting bigger and brighter but I needed some extra motivation, for someone to say ‘Athena go!’ I found out that some of my friends were members here and so finally I came to fill out a registration form with my sister. 

At first, I was really scared because I had never been to a place like this before, but I made friends with everyone literally on the first time I came and that just made me want to continue. I started to train in the female only session and it was really, really good. Our coach Star is amazing, she is one of my favourite people, I think that the instructor is very important. Star teaches you so many things and she is strict and fun at the same time – she pushes us but we love it because it benefits us.

The first time I trained at Fight for Peace, they taught us self-defence moves and I actually got into it because it works. I recently had a worrying experience when someone approached me in a car on the street and tried to encourage me to get in the car and I instantly thought about what my coach Star had taught me. That is what is great about Fight for Peace and the female session, all the things we get taught are always in our head and so you feel more confident about yourself wherever you are.

I began with the female only session because it was just girls and I felt I could connect more. It felt logical to me. Later, I had some friends that trained in the mixed boxing class and they encouraged me to go too. I thought, ‘why don’t I just go with them?’ So I recently started going to the mixed muay thai class. The class is tough but more experienced people in the class help the beginners out and the confidence I gained in the female class made it easier for me to join. 

Doing the monthly personal development sessions at the Academy also helped me get over the initial feeling of being a bit intimidated in the muay thai class. In personal development, you see people in a different environment and it breaks down a lot of barriers and it helps you see how people really are outside of the gym. I love these sessions at Fight for Peace, I have a friend that comes here and she loves them too, the sessions made us both feel more confident with our answers and our views and opinions – you can say what you want without feeling intimidated. 

Now that I regularly train, my body 100% feels stronger and fitter, I feel so many more muscles in my legs and I never had muscles before. When I first did the fitness part of the sessions, it was really hard and I used to dread it but now every time I come, I am improving. What was difficult before is now a breeze! I love the fitness part of training and also the noise in boxing when you hit the pads, it is so satisfying! I have my GSCE exams coming up at school and it is kind of stressful and Fight for Peace helps to relieve that stress. It even encourages you to do more work at school and it is like some psychological thing – you have more energy too.

Right now I have two options for what I want to do in the future. One idea is that I want to become a therapist because I believe this can really help people when they are going through tough times. On the other hand, I really, really, really want to become a primary school teacher because I love kids. Maybe these are two things that I can combine. Recently a boy at my school sadly committed suicide and it made me think that schools should provide more therapy. Fight for Peace has this, you can talk to anyone here and they will help you. They are like your own personal therapist which I think is really good. In the future I would like to be involved in this area at Fight for Peace as a volunteer to gain some experience.

That’s the thing I love about Fight for Peace – the environment. It’s not just a place that you do a session and come out, you can make friends, you can bond, I have met so many people here. It is actually like my second family!