Larches and Savick ABC have churned out some heavyweight names in boxing over the last few years with Scott Fitzgerald (Commonwealth Gold Medal winner and now Pro-Boxer under Matchroom and Eddie Hearn), Mick Hall and Adam Simpson all rising to success through the club.Advertisement
This is before you mention amateurs Jack Phoenix and Stan Houghton who recently reached the National Development Finals, and Lisa Whiteside, Bille-Jean Franks and Bria Fielding who are smashing records for the females.
Together, they’re proudly putting Preston on the map and the club hopes to continue with its success throughout 2016 and beyond.
However, a common misconception about Larches and Savick ABC is that it’s just an ‘Old School Boxing Gym’ where lads and lasses go to train and fight, where sweat drips off the walls and where the equipment is older than the building itself. This though couldn’t be further from the truth and in 2016 they want to shatter that image.
The club which is located on Catforth Road and has been operating as a gym for over 13 years is much more than just a place to box; it’s a non-for-profit, community fitness centre run by volunteers and personal trainers who live for the club. And unlike other gyms, the presence, efforts and dedication of the coaches, mixed with the laid-back welcoming atmosphere is enough to make anyone feel like they belong to a family; a family of boxers, trainers, fitness conscious every-day people.
From its humble beginnings as The Phoenix Club to more recent revamps in 2012 which saw local sponsors and businesses such as Gallagher Ltd and Marcus Worthington Group provide it with generous cash injections and several much needed face-lifts, the modest building in the Larches area of Preston has expanded its appeal by providing members with more than just a ring, gloves, pads and skipping ropes.
Larches and Savick ABC is a gym: it has state of the art treadmills and cross-trainers; rowing machines and plush spin bikes; free weights and squat racks; bench presses and kettle bells; medicine balls and pull up bars. It has volunteer coaches who possess ABA and personal training qualifications to lead the popular classes and sessions throughout the week; and it’s run by ex-boxers who know a thing or two about fitness themselves and who are more than willing to offer sound advice and information.
You absolutely do not have to be a boxer to attend Larches and Savick ABC. In fact, you don’t even need to be interested in boxing to become a member; the gym is open to anyone who wants to train, anyone who is seeking something a little more than what those big-named, impersonal gyms have to offer.
But more than that, the gym feels like its own community; a community within a community; it feels like a place you can go and not be judged, regardless of your abilities.
I became a member of Larches and Savick ABC at the start of 2014 and from the moment I stepped in there – albeit a little nervous and apprehensive – I was made to feel right at home. The trainers and coaches are unbelievably friendly, the members are committed and dedicated to hard work, and what sealed the deal for me was…there seemed to be no pretentious posing or judgemental stares.
Want to run for 40 minutes without being pestered? You can. Want to chat while you run for 40 minutes? You can do that as well. Want advice on how to build fitness and want to be trained by experts who don’t beat around the bush when it comes to dishing out advice, and who won’t try to make you buy into some three-month programme where your weight and inches are measured on a weekly basis and you’re dietary needs are scrutinised? You’ve got it. Want to have a laugh while you train and make new friends? It’s all there.
And unlike bigger gyms where sometimes you can be made to feel like a number on a spreadsheet, Larches and Savick is the complete opposite. It might be a little rough round the edges, it might not have the quantity of equipment larger gyms have, it might not have flash flat-screen TVs mounted onto walls and state of the art showers, or air conditioned units, a sauna and a vending machine selling towels, but it’s a gym; it has character, it has edge and it’s a place to train; a place to train hard, and a place to belong.
Not only that though, the gym and the coaches are so committed to the welfare of the local communities that they often run schemes in collaboration with local schools. Personal trainer, Gregg Rayner lends his hand to coaching school groups from the likes of Larches School, Longridge High, Preston College and even UCLAN. And by co-ordinating programmes for groups of youngsters, Gregg and the club are helping to get kids active, to promote fitness and instil a sense of discipline and pride into the everyday lifestyles of some of the people who may need and may benefit from it most.
They club also works with disadvantaged local youths, and young adults with behavioural problems in helping them to build their confidence and in some cases, stay out of trouble; and they don’t just come to the club to box, they come for the whole package – the bikes, the weights, the company and camaraderie, and the guidance too.
With another revamp happening this month, there’s big things on the horizon for Larches and Savick ABC. Joe Kilshaw and Jimmy Moon, two of the founding members who play more than an active role in the running of the club are eagerly encouraging more people to become members. They want anyone who’s interested in getting fit or improving their fitness to realise that they’re not just a boxing club, they’re a gym.
Jimmy said: “We’re open from 6am-9pm, Monday-Friday, and 9am-4pm at weekends. I don’t think a lot of people know this. We want non-boxers to know that our door is always open and to come and try us out.”
As well as the boxing sessions that run on weekday evenings, there are ladies only sessions and children’s classes, and 2016 will hopefully see the gym trying out more fitness-style sessions such as Tabata and Cross-Fit.
Joe commented: “The atmosphere is friendly and there’s always someone around who can help to guide you if you’re unsure of what your fitness goals may be.”
Membership to the gym starts from as little as £10; there’s no contract, no induction fee, and you can even pay as you go. Keep an eye on the Larches and Savick website for updates, news and information, or pop down during the week for a chat and a look around.
Do you use the Larches and Savick club gym? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below