Written for NH Women Magazine
You wrap your hands and put on your boxing gloves. Moving to the punching bag, your heart rate quickens. The instructor begins the class and you launch into an hour-long journey of throwing punches and kicks with a community of like-minded people ranging in age and ability. When that last jab or kick is completed, you wipe the sweat from your forehead and feel a familiar sense of accomplishment. And, that’s just the way Kim McBrine, owner of Southpaw Boxing and Fitness (Southpaw) in Windham envisioned it when she started the gym with her husband, Mike, two years ago.
“For me, boxing is a way for me to get out of my head,” McBrine explains. “With boxing, I am so focused on the technique and the combinations that I can’t think of anything else. Before I know, it’s been an hour and I am dripping sweat.” McBrine and her family have always done some form of boxing, kickboxing, muay thai or mixed martial arts (MMA) as a workout. So, when they moved to New Hampshire in 2018 and couldn’t find a gym that had everything they were looking for, they decided to take on the challenge. “I wanted to create a community where people can get a great workout, build confidence, find a new passion, and train hard both at competitive and non-competitive levels,” McBrine says.
At first glance, you may feel intimidated going into a Southpaw boxing class, but all are truly welcome. “Ages [at] Southpaw start at six and we have members in their 80s,” McBrine says. When pulling into the parking lot, you might even see staff members meeting people outside who are nervous about walking into the gym for the first time. “We tell them we will walk in together,” explains McBrine. “Once they walk in, they feel the vibe. Everyone is so welcoming.”
What sets Southpaw apart from traditional gyms, is it’s focus on the art and technique of boxing. “Southpaw is a no-frills gym,” says McBrine. “We focus on function, not fashion. You will not see any steam room, no tanning beds – just top notch classes led by knowledgeable, passionate trainers.” The gym has several trainers with varying backgrounds providing a well-rounded and extensive understanding of boxing for all of its members to learn from. “One class you could have a trainer that has a very technical background,” says McBrine. “The next class your trainer could be very fitness based. There are so many different ranges.”
The range of classes offered at Southpaw are a direct result of the qualified staff at the gym. “It really grew legs,” McBrine says about the growth of the gym. Southpaw provides a youth program aimed at ages six to 15 years old focusing not only on the technique of boxing, but also discipline and self confidence; personal one-on-one training and sparring to build fundamentals and achieve personal goals; and several adult classes aimed to make you sweat, get you lean, and build muscles.
Along with the physical benefits achieved at Southpaw, McBrine says the “mental health piece is right up with the fitness, if not outweighs it.” She explains the mental focus required from boxing gets people out of their heads so they aren’t thinking about anything else during the classes. Several members have said boxing at the gym reduces their stress and anxiety leading to better relationships out in the world. “It really helps kids who are shy,” says McBrine whose 16-year-old daughter’s confidence has flourished and she now teaches classes at the gym. “It’s something she couldn’t have done before.”
A side effect of the physical, mental, and community-feel benefits achieved at Southpaw is member longevity. “I’ve had a client say, ‘I’m a runner and I’m only doing these classes for three months.’ Well, a year and a half later, they are still here!” This longevity has also helped during the coronavirus pandemic – even when the gym had to shut down operations for three months. McBrine also saw an opportunity to help keep the sport of boxing going during the pandemic by working with Boston Boxing Promotions at their gym to have closed, live-streamed professional fights. “Together we were able to get boxing back to New Hampshire during the pandemic and do it safely and without incident.”
McBrine says she can “see the light at the end of the tunnel” with the pandemic and is excited about the future growth of the gym. “We would love to see the community grow and be able to add on more classes during the day, all while keeping it in the great community it is.”
Southpaw offers a free week for potential members to come and check out the gym.
For more information, visit https://southpaw-boxing.