Two Tin Cans in Exchange For Exercise

Date: 8 September 2022   Author: Energise Me

With the cost of living crisis, Chris at Xion Gym (Andover) recognised the difficulty that families were about to experience. After an encounter with a neighbour, he decided to use his skill and passion to help his community. So, Chris planned to host a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class with the entry fee of two tinned food items that will be donated to local food banks.

The Interaction That Opened My Eyes

One afternoon, I saw my neighbour and I said hello to her like I do everybody on the street. We started talking, she’d just been for her Wednesday shop, and I noticed there’s not a lot in the bags. She awkwardly tells me she’d just been to a food bank.

My immediate instinct was to offer to take her shopping, but my wife pulled me aside and said that I couldn’t do that. My neighbour was embarrassed. And I thought, if I can’t do that, what can I do to help? If the people around me are struggling, who else is?

After speaking to some friends in different industries, I learnt that people were being arrested for stealing because they were too ashamed to go to a food bank. I learnt that a woman was caught stealing sanitary products because she had to feed her children first.

I knew I absolutely had to do something.

The Idea

It was my wife who suggested doing something for charity. That’s how it started. I thought what do they need? Food, sanitary products – so alright, I’ll charge two tinned cans/two boxes of sanitary products in exchange for a class. I phoned my friend, Tarik, in Basingstoke, who’s trained with me for twelve years and runs his own gym (Urso Jiu Jitsu), and I asked if he wanted to take part. Then I phoned a student of mine, Aidan, in Salisbury (KingsBrazilianJiuJitsu).

The plan is that each of us will host two classes, one in each collaborator’s gym. All the donations raised in Andover will go to an Andover food bank. All the donations raised in Basingstoke will go to a Basingstoke food bank. And all the donations raised in Salisbury will go to a Salisbury food bank. That way it all stays local.

So whether you’re an experienced player or have never set foot on the mats before, everyone is welcome. As are any donations. If you want to donate more, donate more. Since advertising it on social media, we’ve had local businesses donate shopping trolleys full of produce. We’re hoping that we can continue this for as long as it’s needed, maybe once a month. So, if you can do something similar, do it. Participants stay active while supporting others. It’s a win-win.

Useful Information

The first class to be hosted in aid of the food banks is September 10th in Basingstoke. If you’re interested in participating in one of the classes or making a donation, contact Chris at or @Xiongym on Instagram.

*photos for illustrative purposes only

Finding BJJ

I had some childhood experience in Judo, and I boxed in my regiment, so was somewhat familiar with martial arts. It wasn’t until I was an adult and working security in Winchester, that I first stumbled upon Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (the martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting). I watched two Brazilian men as they trained on the tarmac in the middle of the car park. I thought ‘that’s a bit odd’, but to them that was just a workout. One night, there was an altercation in the bar and one of the Brazilian men defended himself against six people who towered over him. So, I asked if he’d coach me.

After he returned to Brazil, I didn’t know what to do; there were very few clubs then compared to now. A friend directed me to a club in Swindon and I went. I’m a big bloke anyway, but I was bigger back then, and the coach partnered me with the smallest guy there. I couldn’t do anything.

I drove home after the session, walked in the house thinking, ‘I need a hot bath with some Epsom salts.’ And I just knew I had to do it again. Just like that, I’ve done it ever since.

Message From Tarik (Urso Jiu Jitsu)

The rising costs of living means that families are having to rely on other resources to provide the bare minimum like food and hygiene products. We jumped at the chance to work with Xion Gym and KingsBrazilianJiuJitsu – together we are stronger. Food banks are an amazing service who help everyday people. We want to help everyday people.

Time and services are but a small act of kindness, the true kindness is amongst those who attend and contribute the donations. They’re the ones really helping our local communities.

If you are willing to offer your services and time in such a way, work with other groups/organisations to do so. Brainstorm it and put it into action. A small idea could help a family.

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