A NEW boxing gym has opened in Saltcoats - and there is an offer of free fitness for anyone 17 and under.

The IMC Project is the brain child of local councillor Jim Montgomerie and is based in the town’s Springvale Street.

Four years in the making, the project, which stands for Inspire, Motivate, Celebrate, is a place where members of the community can get fit, make friends and learn about community spirit.

Jim explained what the project is about, how he hopes it will help youngsters and what boxing gyms can achieve.

He said: “The focus of the project is to get the youngsters off the streets in our community and focussed into something positive through the art of boxing. Our gym is set up for beginners, amateur and professional training. I have boxed at amateur and professional level and I have seen first hand how much the sport of boxing can totally change peoples lives for the better and break down those barriers of non inclusion. It certainly played a major factor in my life for the better.

“It teaches discipline and respect which you could argue is lacking in certain individuals today. It teaches risk and that actions do have consequences. It is a great tool to stop violence in youngsters. You just have to read this paper every week to see the amount of violence that is in our area. There seems to be a readiness for violence with some without thinking of the consequences. The consequences can in some instances be life changing not only to the individuals but also to loved ones. Its about channelling that aggression into something positive and the best place to that is in a boxing gym.

“We need to teach the young about the consequences. Boxing gyms can reach places other organisations can’t.We can engage with youngsters on their own terms which is crucial because we can recognise that insular, frustration, depression and aggression which in some cases is the hallmark of teenage years.

“We have issues with knife crime, gangs, substance abuse, mental health, anti-social behaviour amongst other things. Boxing can play a big part in meeting these problems head on. We want to be a vibrant community hub for a whole host of local projects aimed at tackling local criminal activity. It is a proven fact that when a boxing gym opens up in an area of high unemployment and deprivation the crime rate drops.”

Jim spoke about how he hopes the new gym will resonate with youngsters and get them engaging in sport whilst improving well-being.

He added: “The IMC Project will help the youngsters with their personal development, discipline, teach them respect, communication skills, boosting self esteem and confidence, but that will only be part of it. I want to tie in with local partners like the police, schools, charities, foundations, governing bodies and local businesses to address specific areas of need.We will be offering courses to give the youngsters more opportunities. I want the project to be a dynamic and potent example of what can be achieved in our community.

“Once you understand the art of boxing you quickly understand its non violence, but it’s an engagement tool for people who don’t have the same opportunities as others in life through no fault of their own. Some youngsters need a second chance in life and they get this through discipline and mentoring making them feel that they are just as important as the youngsters who come from good, strong, stable homes.We need to break down the classes.

“Whatever that youngster wants to be in life that is what we will be focussing on.Whether it’s a professional sports person, go to university, join the forces, get an apprenticeship, a musician, whatever.

We will try to make that pathway as easy as possible for them to live out their dream and reach their goal. There will be lots of activities for everyone coming to the project. It is open to everyone.

We are open Tuesday 6-9pm,Wednesday 6-9pm,Thursday 6-8pm and will be open on Sundays too from April 28 from 1-3pm.

“Whatever age you are if you are looking for a workout come and get some professional advice. All levels will be catered for.

“The facilities are first class you will not be disappointed. If you are looking to meeting new friends, fight amateur or professional level, run a 10k or marathon, lose weight, get the good body or general fitness, The IMC Project is the place for you.

“If you are interested in our facility or if you think we could help your organisation in any way please get in touch on 07961615988. Price per month for 18 and over is £20 or £4 per individual use and it is FREE to 17 and under.”