Shock at closure of Padiham’s junior gym

Alex Smith (10) and Harry Nichols (10) who are both upset at the junior gym at Padiham Leisure Centre.
Alex Smith (10) and Harry Nichols (10) who are both upset at the junior gym at Padiham Leisure Centre.

A FURIOUS mum, who was left stunned and angry when it was announced the state-of-the-art children’s gym at Padiham Leisure Centre is to be scrapped, has vowed to fight the move.

Judith Nichols, whose 10-year-old son Harry was a regular user of the Junior Shokk Gym, said she could not believe it when she was told it was being closed to make more space for the adult gym at the centre in Park Road.

Judith said: “Today everything is about getting children moving, getting them fit and healthy and enjoying exercising so this flies in the face of that.

“Harry had asked to go the gym himself and was really enjoying his sessions and so are a lot of his friends and they are devastated it is being shutdown.

“After all the money spent on creating this facility it seems a very backward step to take it away. If it is being under used it is because they have never advertised it. This is the only facility of its kind in the Burnley area but no-one seems to know about it.”

The children’s gym, aimed at eight to 14-year-olds, was created in 2009 when the leisure centre underwent a £1.25m. transformation to bring it into the 21st Century. A large fitness room was created for adults with state-of-the art exercise equipment, a new dance studio, changing areas, reception and health studio.

Judith, of Brunel Street, Burnley, found out about the junior gym closure after she read a notice pinned to the door of the centre. She regularly took Harry there with his classmate at Read Primary School, Alex Smith.

Judith, who also has a seven-year-old son called Bevan, added: “I, along with several other parents, have paid for membership at the centre, but no-one has bothered to inform us about the changes.

“When I approached staff I was told the equipment from the junior gym was being reduced and the sessions would be held upstairs in the dance studio.

“One of the advantages of having the junior gym next to the adult one was the fact you could see your children through a window linking them so you could make sure they were safe and not messing around.

Neil Hutchinson, leisure facilities manager at Burnley Council, said: “Unfortunately the Junior Shokk Gym has not been as popular as we had hoped and has only attracted 32 members, whereas the adult gym has exceeded our expectations and we now have over 650 members at Padiham and this demand is still growing.

“In addition, the company which manufactured the Shokk gym equipment is no longer operating and as a result we cannot get spare parts for the electrical equipment such as the junior running machines and junior treadmills.

“We are still very committed to young people though and equipment such as the junior rowing machines, bikes and target wall are being relocated in the recreation room upstairs and any junior member over 14 will be able to use the adult equipment in the main gym.

“In addition, we are looking at making changes to our youth programme at Padiham that provides a full programme of activities but in a different and more effective way that engages with young people. We will still be using some of the junior gym equipment but also other facilities at the leisure centre such as the swimming pool and putting on circuit training sessions, both inside and outside when weather permits.

“We are confident the new programme will be more popular with a greater number of young people and make better use of the facilities at Padiham for users of all ages.”