Exercise can often be a great way of switching off from the day to day stresses of modern life.

However some people find the idea of walking into a gym or exercising around other people quite intimidating.

To try and combat this, mental health charity KickOff4 and Furness Catholic Amateur Boxing Club have launched the Beat the Stigma campaign.

This four week course ran throughout July and was held at the boxing club.

The aim of the course was to use sport as a way of combatting social isolation by bringing people together to exercise whilst also having fun at the same time.

This comes after The Mail launched their ‘Time to Talk’ campaign, highlighting the importance of being open and willing to talk to others about mental health issues.

Each of the Beat the Stigma sessions was was lead by Paul Ryan from Furness Catholic Amateur Boxing Club.

I joined the group as it seemed like a great opportunity to try a new sport and do some exercise in a relaxed and friendly environment.

When I arrived, there was a group of around 15 people chatting about why they had decided to give the class a try and laughing about what they had got themselves into.

Most of them had never tried boxing before, some had a a little bit of experience, but everyone was eager to get stuck in and give it a go.

During each session, people got the chance to try a variety of different exercises including skipping, using the punch bag and one on one training with one of the guys from the gym holding the mitts.

To begin with, a few people seemed slightly unsure of themselves, but with a little encouragement and some good pointers from Paul and his team, it wasn’t long before everyone was throwing jabs and hooks with confidence.

I personally had never tried boxing before and felt slightly out of my depth when surrounded by punch bags.

But having so many other people who were in the same position made things a lot easier.

Everyone was laughing and encouraging each other which was great, the whole atmosphere felt really supportive, regardless of experience or ability.

I remember finishing the first session feeling incredibly tired but with a real sense of achievement that I had completed it.

As the weeks went on it was easy to see people improving and growing in confidence, there were also more and more people coming to the sessions with people encouraging friends to come along.

Speaking to others at the sessions was great because so many talked about how much better they felt after each class and how they felt like they had a real sense of progress and improvement week on week.

I really enjoyed the sessions and felt like they were a great opportunity to relieve stress and tune out from day to day issues for an hour.

I think exercise is a really important part of people’s health both physically and mentally, for me these sessions were a great example of that.

I also really enjoyed the fact everyone came together as a group and supported one another even though many of us had never tried a sport like boxing before, having that supportive community made a real difference to a lot of people.

I for one would like to see more sessions like this as well as more people getting involved and trying out a new sport or exercise so they can see the benefits to their mental and physical health

Dan Webber, Founder of KickOff4, said: “I’m really appreciative of the support from Paul and everyone at Furness Catholic Amateur Boxing Club.

“The idea to offer it for free was fantastic.

“The project brought over 37 people in over the four weeks.

“We wanted to challenge social isolation and the stigma around mental health as well as show the massive benefit doing a bit of exercise can have.

“It was great for people to get a bit of a sweat on but have a laugh whilst they were doing it.

“The whole non-judgmental environment was massive for me personally and i just think it was a brilliant thing for them to do. We’re having a four week break and it will be back at the beginning of September and will run continuously on a Tuesday night.” Those interested in joining should contact the KickOff4 Facebook page.