THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCK­OUTS

Fight back against pam­pered work­out spa­ces and en­joy a bout of true grit at Spit’n’saw­dust. The edges may be rough; the re­sults are elite

Men's Health (UK) - - Agenda -

The peo­ple of Ban­bury in Ox­ford­shire are proud of their gym. The sense of com­mu­nity is pal­pa­ble. As MH ar­rives, it’s to be met by 20 lo­cals keen to bask in the day’s ex­cite­ment. The con­trast be­tween Spit’n’saw­dust and Lon­don’s elite es­tab­lish­ments is ob­vi­ous: there’s no brushed cop­per or Malin+goetz shower gel in sight, and mem­bers do not walk silently by, wear­ing don’ttalk-to-me head­phones. It’s buzzing.

And it’s all down to its owner, Dave Earle. Af­ter 12 years as an am­a­teur cham­pion boxer, Earle be­gan a ca­reer in fit­ness, cre­at­ing classes for over­weight men. “I didn’t feel there was a spe­cialised place for men to go,” he says. “Es­pe­cially those lack­ing in con­fi­dence.” Thus be­gan an ethos of cater­ing to the less for­tu­nate. Mem­ber­ship is free for those down on their luck. There’s one class Earle is par­tic­u­larly proud of: “We do a box­ing ses­sion that’s im­me­di­ately fol­lowed by cog­ni­tive be­havioural therapy,” he says. “The aim is to get those truly strug­gling with men­tal health back into work.”

As­pi­ra­tions of six-pack abs and rightcross knock­outs can also be re­alised here. Google Rob Evans, Earle’s great­est suc­cess story, and you’ll find a chis­elled male model and box­ing coach with 150,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers. It was Earle who moulded him into a na­tional cruis­er­weight cham­pion. “The first time he sparred, he got bat­tered. He is proof of what you can achieve with hard work,” he says. “In two-and-a-half years, he be­came the best in the coun­try.”

It’s im­pos­si­ble not to be in­spired here and, against the worn back­drop, it’s easy to en­vis­age your own Rocky story tak­ing place un­der these rafters. You just need to throw the first punch.

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