Banbury gym thrust into the national spotlight

Men's Health Magazine prepare to shoot at Banbury's Spit 'n' Sawdust Boxing Gym NNL-180427-163017001
Men's Health Magazine prepare to shoot at Banbury's Spit 'n' Sawdust Boxing Gym NNL-180427-163017001

Could Banbury be home to one of the best gyms in the world? A leading fitness magazine thinks so.

Dave Earle’s Spit ‘n’ Sawdust boxing gym on Banbury’s North Bar Street was selected to feature in Men’s Health Magazine’s ongoing quest to find ‘The Best Gym in the World’.

Men’s Health commissioning editor, Ted Lane, accompanied by a photographer descended on the gym last month for a photoshoot of gym members in action and to interview Dave.

The concept behind the magazine’s feature is simple as Mr Lane said: “In the same issue we are running an article, the title is called ‘How the other half train’ in high end super duper expensive gyms and whether they make the difference.

“As part of that I went on a mission to try ad find more traditional training gyms that don’t rely on a million pound membership.”

Spit ‘n’ Sawdust could not fit that bill more accurately with modest gym fees and many outreach programmes within the community aimed at instilling confidence and combating mental health issues.

Housed in a late 17th century Georgian building it began life as stables for the old Buck and Bell pub. It has also been used to smoke fish, sell Christmas trees and as a storage facility.

Mr Lane discovered the gym on the internet and it lived up to his expectations.

He said: “I saw this and thought the place looked amazing and read the training was very good. I love it, it’s exactly what I wanted it to be.”

The article will be published in the July edition of Men’s Health which is out in June and will feature a series of action shots superimposed onto a photograph of the gym whilst empty. Although interested in the gym as a place to train Mr Lane spoke to Dave at length about his former successes in boxing and kickboxing and his relocation to Banbury.

Dave said: “I told them about my background, my dad boxed and for me it was an escape because I lived on a Coventry council estate and there were a lot of skinheads about and I wanted to look after myself.

“When I came to Banbury I had been boxing for six years and everybody seemed to have a whole lot of respect for me, this kid from Coventry who boxes and I got instant respect. This was a massive turning point.”

Men’s Health sells over one million copies each month but Dave isn’t dreaming of fame and riches but hopes the exposure will allow him to fulfil his dream of converting one of Banbury’s long standing vacant buildings into a community hub.

He said: “What I think is going wrong with society is community. I’d like a place so a grandchild, parents and grandparents can go into one building.

“You can have a gym upstairs, a coffee shop, your soft play areas, all in one place so you get that sense of community especially if you had a policeman there to talk to everybody .

He added: “I’d like one of them in every town.”