A NEW gym is to open in Henley next month.
The Fitness Space will be inside a two-storey commercial unit at Centenary Business Park, off Station Road, and will offer a range of cardiovascular equipment and classes.
It will be run by Stephen Little, 55, from Rotherfield Peppard, who says the town needs a new gym following the closure of LA Fitness in Newtown Road a year ago.
Mr Little, who used to be a member of LA Fitness, said: “I used to go to The Fitness Space in Hughenden Valley, near High Wycombe, and said ‘you really should open one in Henley because there’s a real need’.
“I showed them all the clips from the Henley Standard. There has been an awful lot in your paper on what people thought about LA Fitness closing.
“Then I thought, ‘it’s good idea, I’ll do it myself’.”
Mr Little, who has taken a 10-year lease on the unit, said: “We’re just going through the final stages. We hope to open in mid-October.
“What we’re offering is not just a facility where you pay your monthly subscription and you go into the gym, use the equipment and leave, we’re hoping to offer a complete lifestyle solution.
“We have integrated personal training into most of the plans so everybody gets a training programme and DNA testing to see what sort of exercise or diet suits them.”
The business will also offer dietary advice.
Mr Little said: “I lost quite a bit of weight at my current gym. I had a 48in waist at one point and I’m now a 42in so it’s something I’m very keen on and which worked well for me.”
The gym will have cardiovascular equipment including treadmills, exercise bikes and a skill mill — a type of running machine — as well as dumbbells and kettle bells.
Mr Little, a father-of-two, who runs a printing business in High Wycombe, said: “All the kit we’re having is very high-end. It’s all equipment you log into from your phone.
“The gym can’t happen fast enough for me and I’m really excited to be opening it. It’s something I’ve been working on now for about six months and because I live locally it’s perfect for me.”
The gym will be open from 6am to 9pm Monday to Thursday and from 6am to 8pm on Fridays. At weekends it will open from 8am to 5pm.
Classes will be run in the upstairs studio and will include spinning, hot yoga, high intensity training, circuit training, a morning fitness class and pilates.
The unit is owned by property developer Malcolm Jiggens and was occupied by catering and event hire company Place Settings until its lease expired in October.
Mr Jiggens, from Binfield Heath, obtained planning permission for a gym in February despite objections by Henley Town Council and two residents of Grange Road who were concerned about noise and parking. Councillors had argued that the corrugated steel building could not be fully insulated to contain the sound of music and exercise equipment.
But district council planning officer Davina Sarac said she didn’t believe a “legitimate” objection could be raised to the proposed change of use on the basis of potential noise disturbance.
Mr Jiggens, the founder of Southern Plant Hire, said most members would listen to music through their headphones so background music would be played quietly.
The Fitness Space, which has clubs around the country, was founded in 2010 by Tim Benjamin, a former Great Britain 400m runner, and John Pye.
Mr Pye has managed the Fitness Space’s flagship site in Ascot since its inception and is now operations director. There are also branches in West Bridgford, Marlborough, Cirencester and Harpenden.
Essex company Henthames has appliesd for planning permission to convert the former LA Fitness site into an 80-bed care home.
The company bought the land for £1.8million and declined to renew the lease so the gym was closed. The company then submitted a planning application.
Campaigners from the Keep Henley Active pressure group fought to re-open the site and collected hundreds of signatures on a petition. Supporters included Leander Club rower and Olympic gold medallist Will Satch and his mother Sally.
South Oxfordshire District Council is due to make a decision on the application.