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Catmose Sports Centre members hope to open a new community-run gym in Oakham





Gym-goers hope to open a community-run fitness centre to plug the gap when a sports facility closes for good.

Members of Catmose Sports Centre in Oakham are determined to continue exercising together when the centre closes at the end of the month.

They started putting together a business plan last year when the centre was first threatened with closure, but the plans were shelved when Rutland County Council and operator Stevenage Leisure Limited agreed to extend their contract.

Rhian Williams, Ali Drake, Andrea Gordon-Kerr and Jan Wills are part of a group hoping to launch Oakham Co-operative Fitness following the closure of Catmose Sports Centre
Rhian Williams, Ali Drake, Andrea Gordon-Kerr and Jan Wills are part of a group hoping to launch Oakham Co-operative Fitness following the closure of Catmose Sports Centre

However their business plan was dusted off again last month when the council confirmed it can’t afford to subsidise the facility any more and it will close on May 31.

Campaigner Andrea Gordon-Kerr said: “People say there are other places that we could go to exercise but you can’t fit 700 members into the commercially available gyms and they don’t have the same ethos as Catmose.

“For some people it’s not as easy as just going somewhere else. Everyone is welcome at Catmose and that’s the culture we want to preserve. It’s more about the people than the building.”

Oakham Co-operative Fitness
Oakham Co-operative Fitness

The group plans to open Oakham Co-operative Fitness as a non-profit community interest company. It would provide group fitness classes with the same sense of community that is experienced at Catmose. They hope to be in a position to reopen the centre by the end of July.

Premises in Oakham have been identified and the group is in talks with a landlord over renting the space. The location has not been announced but the building is within walking and cycling distance of the town.

The committee is applying for start-up grants and has launched a Crowdfunding page to help pay for refurbishing the building and gym equipment.

Initial plans would see the centre open for classes from 6.30am until midday and again from 4pm until 8pm on weekdays, plus weekend sessions. Afternoons would be reserved for personal training.

Catmose Sports Centre
Catmose Sports Centre

The committee hopes to hold public meetings next month to share more details about their plan but in the meantime is keen to hear from anyone who would be interested in using the gym.

To contact the committee email members@oakham.fitness or visit the Crowdfunding page at tinyurl.com/oakhamcommunityfitness

Member Rhian Williams said: “The most important thing about Catmose is the community feel and we want to keep a place where people can exercise together.”

Andrea added: “It’s amazing what a community can achieve when people come together.”



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