On Guard: Fencing Hits Massachusetts

Cambridge's Olympia Fencing Center is trying to make fencing mainstream.

FencingOlympia Fencing Center member Isabel Kain in action. Photo provided.

Tee-ball, soccer, cheerleading, basketball, and swimming are all popular youth sports, but if Julia Hondor had her way, fencing would be on that list, too.

Hondor and her husband Daniel, a former Romanian fencer who competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, built and opened  Olympia Fencing Center in Cambridge from the ground up. Doors opened in December 2012 with the goal of bringing fencing to the mainstream. “The prices are the same as any other sport,” Hondor says.

Fencing is an activity than anyone can do. “It’s a great sport, it has many benefits, and sadly I think it’s very un-promoted for some reason,” Hondor says. “I’m trying really hard to bring the sport to everybody’s attention as much as possible. I’m just trying to reach as many people as I can.”

The club already has more than 50 active members ranging from six to 60 years old, many of whom are sets of siblings or parents and children. Hondor calls the club “a big family,” but is quick to point out that she and her husband have high aspirations for Olympia, which is already home to several nationally-ranked athletes. “We are aiming as high as we can, toward the Olympic Games and things like that,” she explains. “We want to build champions.”

But even the casual athlete can benefit from fencing, Hondor says. She notes that fencing, like any cardiovascular exercise, has great health benefits, such as flexibility, muscle toning, and coordination.”It’s a complete workout, head to toe,” she says. “You lose weight, you stay healthy, you have to stay fit so you can fit into that fencing equipment.”

Along with the fitness benefits, Hondor explains that fencing has many mental benefits as well, citing her 12-year-old son who struggles with ADHD. “Fencing brings him focus, concentration, eye-hand coordination,” she says. “It coordinates your brain with your limbs. It’s very healthy for your mind.”

Hondor says she hopes the word will spread about Olympia and fencing in general, and that as the club grows it will be able to expand. “Hopefully in a few years maybe [we’ll] open a new one,” she says. “If we make enough people aware of the benefits of this sport, you never know, right?”

Olympia Fencing Center, 127 Smith Place, Cambridge, 781-945-9448; olympiafencingcenter.com.