Published on Brock University (http://brocku.ca)
When Cathy van Ingen, Associate Professor of Physical Education and Kinesiology, does research, she doesn’t stand on the sidelines and watch. She gets involved. Really involved.
Cathy helped establish Shape Your Life, a program that helps survivors of violence by focusing on the body and physical activity. The demand for the program was overwhelming. Sessions were filled to capacity and waiting lists were created. Cathy wanted to know more about what made this program special, particularly in communities where socioeconomic disadvantage dominates.
She discovered that boxing was the means by which participants in Shape Your Life explored their experiences with violence, anger, aggression, and injustice. And that led to a very personal journey of both research and self-discovery.
“Boxing is the most visceral of sports and watching participants learn how to make a proper fist, learn how to throw solid punches, and to experience their bodies as a source of power and strength was amazing”, says Cathy. “The goal of the program was not to manufacture fighters, but to reconnect participants with their bodies and to encourage them to engage with what we called ‘healthy aggression’.”
She has now interviewed over 70 participants and discovered that the program was transformative. For them, boxing was an important means of creating change in their lives. And in Cathy’s, too. As part of her experience, she joined the boxing world and took the big step of training and then competing in the ring.
Research with impact. Literally. Click here for more information on Cathy van Ingen’s research.