12 Rounds Boxing focuses on members’ mental health

Last week it was reported that GPs in England are to start prescribing boxing fitness classes for women, to help treat a variety of conditions including depression. 

The acknowledgment of boxing as a sport that can help not only physical, but also mental health is a refreshing step forward in the fight to destigmatise mental health issues. 

But where in South London could you go to start that journey yourself? Look no further than 12 Rounds Boxing Club. 

Situated in Clapham, 12 Rounds is first and foremost a boxing gym for all abilities, but a portion of its work focuses on improving the mental health of its members. 

The gym sits just across from Clapham Junction Station on a bustling street covered with bright lights.

SWL sat down with its founder, Katra Hamilton, who said: “Some other gyms have still got that old-school spit and sawdust feel that can be a bit intimidating and I hope it’s the complete opposite here. 

Instead, the club has a community-minded atmosphere.

Kat added: “People come to learn boxing, but I think the community aspect is what keeps them coming back.” 

That sentiment is very much echoed by the gym’s regulars.

Ellie Fricker, who has attended the club for over four years said: “You don’t always want to go and train, but coming here you know you’re going to see people that make you feel better.  

“The coaching staff are always good entertainment – they’re really welcoming and they’ll always get you up if you seem like you need a bit of encouragement. 

“They’re good at bringing everyone out of themselves and bringing them into the group, making everyone feel like they’re welcome and everyone has as much of a place here as anyone else.” 

MENTAL & PHYSICAL HEALTH: 12 Rounds is keen on mindset training as well as boxing.

Ellie has noticed the impact of boxing on her mental health as well. 

She said: “Before I came here I was in a job that was really stressful and I wasn’t really coping with it at all. I ended up with stress related fatigue and I was just exhausted. 

“Now, if I have a particularly hard day and I come down here, I can’t believe how much better I come out feeling. It’s a sense of relief.” 

It’s a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins, while boxing as a sport is particularly cathartic, but 12 Rounds remains unique in this space. 

Ellie explained: “Everyone that wants to try boxing should go and try boxing. Wherever they are, wherever there’s space, wherever’s convenient for them, but this is definitely a special place.  

“Some people say they don’t have the same community at their gyms – this is a really really welcoming place.” 

SWL also spoke to Nick Stalker, who started attending classes at 12 Rounds after the death of a family member.

He said: “I was really nervous the first time when I walked up the stairs, but you’re met with smiles and everyone was really welcoming. That atmosphere of friendliness then rubs off on everyone else.  

“It’s got a good culture overall – a friendly, welcoming culture.” 

12 Rounds ticks plenty of boxes, but Kat knows there is more to improving mental health than taking up boxing. 

She explained: “When you’re boxing you can come in and box and instantly feel better, but if nothing changes in your life then you’re still walking back out into the same thing.” 

This is why she also offers mindset training – something she is keen to build upon.  

She said: “I did a programme called ‘Box to Believe’ which was all about developing confidence using boxing analogies, like ‘who’s in your corner’?  

“In a boxing fight you always have a team in your corner who can see things you can’t always see. The programme helps people to establish who makes up their support system. 

“Another thing I do is ‘Box to Balance’ workshops for women, which are about bringing in the relaxation and meditative side as well. They do boxing and guided meditations – it’s about being a bit more conscious.” 

However mindset training is not the only thing that 12 Rounds is expanding into, with Kat explaining that she intends to set up a charitable arm to her business. 

She said: “My plan is to try and get that set up next year. I’m running some pilot classes now and I’d like to offer services for women and teenage girls who can’t afford to access them. 

“We’re also interested in expanding into schools. The school curriculum is normally standard sports like cricket and there’s kids that don’t want to do those sports or don’t excel in them, so it’s about giving them something else.” 

With its brilliant work on combatting mental health issues and providing women and children with a space to box, it is easy to forget that 12 Rounds is, at the root of it all, a boxing gym. 

You don’t have to have mental health issues to take part – everyone is welcome.  

There is no obligation to fight or spar. Although many do progress to that stage, there are fitness based sessions like Bag and Burn, which do exactly what they say on the tin.  

If you wold like to book your first session, Kat is offering 10% off the Fundamentals Programme using the code SWFUND.

That’s 12 sessions over four weeks for £135 if you book by 24 December.

Photo credit: 12 Rounds Boxing Club

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