Gym to close, but facility to stay open
The Fitness Studio gym will close on January 31, although non-profit organisations and schools will be able to hire the facility and some of the existing equipment.
The Timaru District Council began running the gym in February following a deal which saw it also take over the running of the SBS Events Centre last December. Since late July the council has run the Fitness Studio and CBay Fitness, its gym at the new CBay aquatics centre, as a single entity. General membership and class attendance at the Fitness Studio has been reducing since CBay opened.
Community services manager Sharon Matson said the option meant there would still be a "facility where exercise and social interaction can be held", in north west Timaru. "This will not be a commercial gym, but a fitness and well-being site . . . the new model will be actively marketed within communities of interest."
The council's industrial relations committee recommended the Fitness Studio close and yesterday's district services committee agreed.
Light fitness equipment will remain on site with approved groups able to hire the facility for $60 (plus GST) an hour which will include a CBay Fitness instructor. If the group had a suitably qualified member to oversee the session, then the charge-out rate would be $25 plus GST.
A number of predominantly older Fitness Studio members have previously accused the council of deliberately running the facility down since taking it over.
Among the most vocal have been members of the twice-weekly light circuit class, who see the sessions as not only being beneficial to physical health but also providing an important social aspect.
Light circuit group spokeswoman June van Zee was uncertain how members would respond to the proposal. She personally would miss being able to go to the gym before the circuit.
"I hope members will take it on," she said, adding some of those whose membership had lapsed might come back now they knew what was being offered.
Mrs Matson said the couple of community groups she had discussed the proposal with considered there would be a "moderate to strong interest".
She envisaged that as well as the light circuit members, groups such as the Stroke Foundation, Parkinsons and Green Prescription would be interested in using the facility.
Cr Richard Lyon considered it was the best way the council could meet the concerns of those who did not want the gym to close.
"A little bit of my heart says the council has some moral obligation (to these people)," Cr Jo Taylor said. "Surely we knew the repercussions of a gym at CBay?"
She questioned whether the council could do a little bit more for the users.
Mrs Matson said there were options available, it just depended how open to compromise the groups were.
"We are not forcing anyone out. They were always aware there would be a review at 31 January."
It was also providing the community with another facility, Mayor Janie Annear said.
- The Timaru Herald