Campaign to keep Fitness First in Bognor

Brenda McGovern front, with other members of the gym who are hoping it will stay open Picture by Kate Shemilt C141071-1
Brenda McGovern front, with other members of the gym who are hoping it will stay open Picture by Kate Shemilt C141071-1

CANCER survivor Brenda McGovern has called a threatened Bognor Regis gym her health lifeline.

Mrs McGovern and many of her fellow members are protesting about the proposed closure of Fitness First which she says has been invaluable in her recovery from the disease and other difficulties.

“I have been a member since the gym opened 13 years ago,” she said.

“Since then, I have made a great many friends that have helped me through a bi-lateral mastectomy for cancer, a minor stroke, epilepsy and, most of all, depression after the death of my husband.

“I can feel down in the dumps when I go to the gym and on top of the world when I come out.

“I’m sure it’s the same for most people.

“Exercising and keeping fit is uplifting.

“It has to keep people out of hospital. Surely a gym that promotes health and fitness in the community is more important than yet another home furnishing store?”

As reported, the proposed change of use of the gym’s premises at the Bognor Regis Retail Park, in Rowan Way, has been made by site owner Zurich Assurance.

It says a change of lease agreement has been signed by Home Bargains. The plan will be decided by Arun District Council next year.

But Mrs McGovern, 70, of Aldwick Street, said the news had been a big blow to the gym’s 1,810 members.

“There are very strong feelings about it. There were even tears when we realised the situation was serious,” she said.

“We have a great social life, going out regularly of an evening.”

A large age range use the gym, from young bodybuilders to 80 to 90 year olds, she said.

The gym employed 14 full-time staff, five trainers and ten instructors.

As well as fitness equipment, such as cross trainers and walkers, it has facilities such as steam and sauna rooms.

Mrs McGovern works out two or three times a week with aerobics classes, toning with weights and pilates.

A Fitness First spokeswoman said: “The landlord is considering the options for their site.

“One of these options is changing the use of the space from gym to retail.

“But this has not been confirmed to us and, as things stand, we are the leaseholder and remain committed to providing a top-quality gym experience for all of our members.”