Banbury Gym offers free self-defence classes to women


From left to right: Justyna Mielniczek, Sandra Grant, Hayley Louise, Louise Dempster, Gavin Stewart (owner of 10th Planet Banbury), Carmel Thornton, Lisa Benveniste, Ashley Gilvray. Photo taken pre-COVID-19 restrictions.

“Nobody should feel afraid to walk home at night”

A Banbury gym has announced it will be offering free martial arts classes to women when it reopens at the end of June.   The offer comes in the wake of growing calls for more to be done to protect women and girls from violence.

10th Planet Banbury, based at Riverside on the Tramway Industrial Estate, is expanding its timetable to offer free monthly self-defence classes to women.

Gavin Stewart, owner and coach at 10th Planet Banbury said: “The sad events of the past week have sent shock waves through the UK and opened-up some much-needed conversations around the role we can play as a society to improve women’s safety.  

“It’s been a time of deep personal learning for me and, as a father of a young daughter, I wanted to bring my martial arts skills and experience to deliver a programme that would help, in some way, to protect and empower the women in our local community.

“Nobody should feel afraid to walk home at night, and I hope that the skills picked up in my new classes, will equip women to feel confident if faced with any unfortunate physical or mental confrontation in the real world.”

10th Planet Banbury has been open for over 5 years.   The gym is planning to reopen as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow – currently planned for the end of June.

The free classes will be open to girls from the age of 14 upwards, or those aged from 12 if accompanied by an adult.   There is no minimum level of fitness to join in.

Mr Stewart says he will keep the monthly sessions going as long as people want them.

One of the gyms current members is Carmel Thornton from Southam.   She said: “For anyone thinking about learning self-defence skills – don’t just think about it, do it. If you are looking for a class where you can learn and practice these skills in a friendly and inclusive environment, where everyone is respected and welcomed, then 10th Planet Banbury is for you.

“Although there are women-only classes, we are also actively encouraged and included within all classes.

“The sad news from this week has shocked us all, but I have certainly felt great support from the wider squad. Without doubt, the training and skills I have been taught by Gavin and the team of coaches at 10th Planet Banbury, has made me feel a lot more confident and should be a skill everyone learns.”

For more information email or visit the gym website.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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