Carlisle boxing club fit for the future
Bodies and minds are changed for the better by training at Carlisle Villa Amateur Boxing Club.
Now the club has benefited from its own transformation.
It has just reopened after an eight-week refurbishment designed to make it more attractive to the club's boxers, and people from all walks of life who use it to boost their fitness.
The hall is down a cobbled lane off Alton Street, behind Currock Road. A businessman, Mr Hepworth, built it for local children in 1956.
"There hasn't been a lot done to it since then," says club coach Jimmy Brennan.
Until now. The two changing rooms have been refurbished and a new disabled toilet and shower added.
New windows, doors and lights have been installed. And the roof has been fixed. "We were dodging buckets when it was raining," says Jimmy.
The work was funded by a £68,000 National Lottery grant.
Carlisle Villa has been based here since 1993. Jimmy trained at the club's former home in Harraby as a child in the 1980s, and came back as a coach when he left the army.
He says of the refurbishment: "It's something that's taken a long time to plan. To see it come to fruition, it's quite emotional.
"People like George Graves and Brian Sanderson, who have been at the club since the early 80s, they can't believe the transformation. Northern Construction went above and beyond."
The new look includes huge photographs of Muhammad Ali and motivational quotes such as 'Train hard or go home' and 'Winners train. Losers complain'.
Although this remains a boxing club, with plenty of successful fighters, in recent years fitness classes for people with no desire to step into a ring have become increasingly popular.
"The doors are open to everyone," says Jimmy.
"It was already busy with women's groups and kids' groups. That's how we got the grant, because we were working with the community.
"But we couldn't really advertise it as a proper club because the facilities were awful.
"The previous changing rooms were horrible: damp and mouldy and stinking. You couldn't really advertise for people to come to a place like that.
"Now women bring their friends because it's such a pleasant environment."
There's no shortage of gyms in the area. DW Fitness and Lifestyle Fitness are both around the corner on Currock Road.
Jimmy feels Carlisle Villa is attractive because there's no membership fee.
And plenty here enjoy training in a boxing gym. They are welcome to try a boxing session, although there's certainly no obligation.
There are plans to double the size of the hall by expanding into the car park. Jimmy expects funding bids to be made in the next couple of years
"We've outgrown this gym. It's so popular we'll fill it."
Hopefully, with healthy bodies and minds.
"We've had women who couldn't do one press-up or one sit-up. Now they're coming to three or four sessions a week.
"They're transformed in their bodies and their self-esteem is boosted."