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Daily Echo

easyGym to create 25 new jobs by reopening former Fitness First centre in Shirley

The Fitness First centre in Shirley Road is to be reopened as easyGym

The Fitness First centre in Shirley Road is to be reopened as easyGym

Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author

Reported by Jon Reeve

Education Reporter

Published / Business

TWENTY-five jobs are to be created through a £1.5m investment to reopen a popular Southampton gym.

More than 2,300 members were left upset and disappointed when Fitness First closed its Shirley Road gym at short notice last December, as part of a restructuring by the chain to cut huge losses.

As reported, some users said there had been “uproar” when it was announced the gym was to close within a fortnight.

Now easyGym – started by the entrepreneur who founded budget airline easyJet, Stelios Haji-Ioannou – has stepped in to take over the property.

The firm, which has existing branches in Birmingham, Cardiff, Slough and London, said it will open its new facility on March 11 as part of an expansion that will also see three other gyms open within months, including a flagship outlet in London’s Oxford Street.

Unlike many other fitness brands, easyGym said its “low-cost” approach will not make members sign up to fixed contracts.

A spokesman said: “easyGym takes a new approach to fitness – offering members the great fitness experience you’d expect from the established chains but at a fraction of the price and with no fixed contract, members avoid the 12, 18 or 24-month contracts required by some gym groups.”

The company said it also hopes to entice customers with the promise of “state of the art equipment” and an “innovative entertainment system”.

This gives members access to 70 channels as well as the chance to browse the Internet or connect their iPods to personal monitors built into exercise machines.

Poole-based Fitness First, which runs 417 centres across the UK, Germany, Australia and Asia, announced earlier last year it had entered a company voluntary agreement (CVA) to sell 67 of its British clubs as part of a restructuring to save the business.

The chain was saved from administration when landlords agreed to slash rents by around 70 per cent, in a deal that saw its £600m of debt wiped out.

But last month it posted a pre-tax loss of £671.5m for the 12 months to October 2011, compared with a loss of £82.9m for the year before.

Its Southampton branch had opened in 1998, and counted world champion bodybuilder Marina Cornwall among its personal trainers.

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