Jab jab cross with Haile

1 Aug 2023

Haile James-Kapa started boxing about six years ago and fell in love with how the sport made her feel. Strong, confident and skilled. She’s a huge boxing advocate with experience inside and outside the ring. She now channels all that she’s learnt from boxing pros and her own personal determination to work with clients of all different abilities and fitness levels.

Haile shares what she loves about the boxing life and why it’s about so much more than just throwing hands.

How did you get into boxing?
I've always been interested in martial arts as a way of building confidence and self-defence. I started out with a type of karate called Wing Tsun and then moved into Muay Thai.

Boxing felt like a natural next step, so I joined a boxing gym in Wellington. I trained hard and worked my way up to my first corporate fight, which is where you train for 12 or so weeks to go up against an opponent at a similar ability and weight. I did a few of those, became an amateur boxer, and travelled around New Zealand and Australia for some fights. 

Why did you decide to become a boxing trainer? 
There are a few reasons. I loved training for fights, but the lifestyle of a boxer isn’t easy. The mental and physical elements take a toll when preparing your mind and body for a fight. I still love to box now, but I’ve taken a break from boxing competitively and love working with my clients and helping them smash their goals, whatever they may be. 

I also found that with boxing, you have a whole team around you dedicated to seeing you take out the win, but at the end of the day, it’s just you in the ring. As a people person, I found that a bit lonely, to be honest. With training, I get to continue with the sport I love and work with my awesome clients.

I had also learnt so much from the people around me that I wanted to pass on. I trained under the cruiserweight title holder for New Zealand, and I soaked in everything I could about the sport.

When I decided to become a trainer, I did a course by NZ boxer Shane Cameron to nail things like pad holding, building a boxing programme for clients, how to run classes, and working with people one-on-one. 

What are common misconceptions about boxing?
A lot of people think it’s just about throwing hands, but there is so much technique behind it. 

It’s about more than just the hands. We start from the bottom up. Footwork and stance are hugely important, as well as hip mobility, shoulder and hand placement. 

Boxing isn’t just for the super fit, either. It’s honestly for so many different fitness levels, and it’s a great way to build confidence, learn self-defence skills, get fit, and be social!

How does boxing help people’s mental health?
Boxing does wonders for stress – it gives the best release. Some clients come in the evening to let go of a bad day with a session on the pads to give a good night's rest. Others like to start the day with one of my 6am boxing classes to start the day feeling amazing with all those endorphins.

What do you love about being a boxing trainer? 
I love that I started out not knowing how to box and am now using everything I’ve learnt to teach people. 

I feel like I can also relate to people so much more. I feel like I know exactly how they’re feeling during a training session or when trying to nail a new technique because I’ve been there. It means I always teach what I preach. I give people exercises that I would have done myself when I was training, and I’m realistic in my training sessions, which helps me gel more with my clients. 

What would you tell someone wanting to give boxing a go?
It’s all about creating a stable foundation first. Once you nail the basics, you can start to build. When you have a solid foundation, you progress quicker. There are about six or eight punches to the nail, but it’s about how you use them – and I’ll be with you every step of the way! 

Want to book in with Haile?
Haile works from our Evans Bay Fitness Club and is available from Monday-Friday. 

Book now