Valerian Spicer is a boxer, personal trainer, motivational speaker, soon-to-be author, and mum (amongst many other things). She runs us through a day in her life.
Valerian Spicer meets me at Zealand Café wearing bright pink lipstick, a black hoodie and a recommendation of a Zealand latte. She has lived at her house on Antill Road for the past 11 years with her partner Laird and now their two young children, Hamish, 4, and Kenna, 16 months.
Spicer, 42, is a retired professional boxer. She only entered the boxing ring for the first time aged 30, but in eight years, became a 20 World ranked boxer as well as Dominica Sportswoman of The Year 2016. She’s also competed in 64 matches, including two Commonwealth Games. One of these was at the Gold Coast in 2018, just five months after having Hamish.
She is clearly passionate about her job; beaming as she describes the joy she gets from seeing her clients progress, and how grateful she is to be in a career she loves.
She runs us through her busy life, from morning mum duties to training sessions into the evening.
I wake up… Anywhere from half 6 to half 7. My children are my alarm so I start the day by doing ‘kid stuff’: getting Hamish ready for preschool, getting Kenna ready for nursery too.
I try to have breakfast in the morning but sometimes it doesn’t always work out like that: some cereal or a bit of toast if I can but I’m normally rushing off somewhere. I’d really like to get back into porridge though.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I then take Kenna to nursery. On those days, we have park sessions in a local park straight after for parents who come from the school drop off.
I would walk there but I have a car full of boxing gloves so I drive my little black Audi and stick on some 80s bangers on the way. I have the 80s music during the training sessions too. I’ve recently become acquainted with SoundCloud: there are some great uptempo 80s mixes on there, with Tina Turner, Night Fever, The Waterboys mixed by Lord of the Isles.
My favourite exercise… Shuttle runs are good, they’re a good pulse raiser and a fat burner: I’ll put two cones quite a lengthy distance away and the clients will sprint up, turn around and sprint back. I normally start my sessions with these, perfect for park sessions.
We are very lucky that we have lots of parks around here such as Wennington Green or Victoria Park.
A tip for those wanting to exercise in the park for the first time: write your workout down and just stick to the plan. Then you don’t have time to worry about being self-conscious.
For lunch I have… Nothing amazingly exciting, sometimes leftovers, sometimes a sandwich, sometimes cheese. I’m really into my different cheeses, Comté being my favourite. I used to go out for lunch a lot more – there are a lot of nice coffee shops on Roman Road so I tend to alternate between them when I do get the time. Zealand is nice, for example. I do tend to stick around this area.
After that, I head off to Aberfeldy Boxing Club in Poplar. I do a women’s fitness session there from 11 to 12 on some days, and then I will have private clients until I pick my son up at 3.20.
If it’s a day when I have Kenna instead, we always do something fun, whether it’s going to the park or going to the Ideas Store. Sometimes we go to the library for storytime and songtime which we love. Before the pandemic, every day Hamish and I would be doing something different, but Kenna’s a lot more laid back.
The best thing about my job is… I love seeing what people get out of my training sessions and seeing their progress – people tell me how it’s made them feel and I get a real high from that. I also get a lot of satisfaction from when I’m giving clients technical advice and they’re following it through.
I don’t really have mornings where I want to stay in bed, I just get up and go. When I was doing intense training for competitions, that was sometimes different. There were times when I’d be ill with exhaustion so then I certainly wanted to stay in bed. It was very demanding of my body. There are certain things from that period that I never want to do again.
My top tips for locals to get back into exercise… I would just say give it a go. I always encourage people to take exercise at their own pace. When I started boxing, I hadn’t done any exercise for eight or nine years. I just wanted to get back to doing some fitness, so I tried it and loved it.
My journey to professional boxing… Was actually quite unusual. Normally, you start around by 11 or 12. But I was 30. I was working at an office job in the city and a few colleagues had joined up at a boxing gym just down the road, so I joined, wanting to get back to doing some fitness, get healthy, lose some weight. So I joined and loved it. Before long, I was asked what my thoughts were about competing. That led me to going to an England boxing gym and the route laid on from there.
I had been at a time in my life, where I was very disenchanted with the jobs I was doing. And suddenly I found boxing and things fell into place: it gave me a purpose.
Who is this job for… Anyone! Boxing is a weird one. A lot of people have preconceived ideas of what it is. Often that’s wrong. Boxing gyms can often appear quite intimidating places, but they’re friendly places. It’s just about getting in there and giving it a go.
My spare time is spent… Quite often in the boxing gym again! The competitive nights are in the evening, so on a Monday I try to go down there to help out with the coaching.
I used to like going for dinner but with the children, that’s more or less out! We like a takeaway though. Pizza Brixton is nice – I tend to go for something spicy on my pizza, something like pepperoni. Absolutely no pineapple on my pizza though, that’s a no-go.
If you enjoyed this article, then read our piece on York Hall, the home of British boxing.
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