Monday, June 17, 2024

Perth couple eye out-of-town fitness studios after failing to find city centre premises

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A Perth couple plan to set up fitness studios out of town after failing to find premises in the city centre.

Ben Finch, 47, and Nic Crossley, 43, have earmarked a disused warehouse in the former Batleys cash and carry site on the Inveralmond Industrial Estate for their new venture.

Perth Fitness Studios would enable trainer Nic to run classes for her Flabby Mummy Fitness business while offering space for self-employed fitness instructors to do the same.

Ben, who runs Wee Run Events, has lodged a change of use planning application.

His supporting statement said: “We require accommodation that serves our purposes, and this cannot be found in the city centre.”

‘So hard’ to find space in Perth city centre

Speaking to The Courier, Ben elaborated on his failed attempts to find a spot in the heart of Perth.

He says the only viable option was the former Perthshire Advertiser office on Watergate, but this was snapped up by a printing firm that he admits was a “more suitable” occupant.

Ben says he was unable to find premises in Perth city centre. Image: Ben Finch

“Finding a suitable space for this business is so hard,” Ben said.

“There are empty premises in Perth city centre but they are set up to be retail spaces.

“Also parking is restricted. There is no free parking that is safe for people to walk to and from.

“A lot of the women who come to our classes would rather have parking directly outside the venue – especially when it is the winter and it is dark and there aren’t a lot of people about.

“Having somewhere safe is really important.

“The former Perthshire Advertiser site was a very good price.

“But for everywhere else in the city centre the price was too high or needed too much work doing to it.”

Inveralmond now a ‘multi-use area’

Ben believes Perth’s current population trend and the travails of public-funded facilities in the city have led to a gap in the market.

Bell’s Sports Centre bosses are abandoning their gym after it was trashed by flooding in October 2023.

Live Active Leisure has told users it is moving the Bell’s fitness gear to the Dewars Centre.

Both venues face the axe, with Perth and Kinross Council planning to build a single new sports centre instead.

And there is a question mark over the future of Rodney Pavilion, which operated as a gym from 1987 to 2022 when all its fitness equipment was moved to Bell’s.

The exterior of the Inveralmond building that Perth Fitness Studios would occupy.
The exterior of the Inveralmond building that Perth Fitness Studios would occupy. Image: Ben Finch

“In the wake of what is happening with Live Active at Bell’s, Dewars and Rodney there’s a shortage of this sort of space in Perth,” Ben said.

“We are near Bertha Park, which works well for us.

“Looking at where the population of Perth is expanding to it is here and the west side of the city.

“This is an out-of-town destination which ties in with an M&S and Aldi.

“Going back a few years it was tied in with an empty building but it is now fully used so it works as a multi-use area.”

Hope for summer opening of Perth Fitness Studios

The unoccupied Lawgrove Place building, which is on the eastern edge of the estate, is being divided into nine units.

Perth Fitness Studios would be established in unit three, with weekday opening hours of 7am to 10pm and 7am to 6pm on weekends.

It would contain one main studio for group exercises, one small studio for personal training and a treatment room for uses such as sports massage or spray tanning.

Nic and Ben are excited about their new venture. Image: Ben Finch

Ben continued: “Nic has been renting facilities across Perth to do her classes.

Flabby Mummy Fitness offers workouts such as Rockbox, Boxercise and Junglefit.

“These have been at church halls and other venues – none of them are purposely designed for fitness classes and studios.

“So we realised that there was nowhere open specifically for self-employed fitness instructors to come along and do their classes.”

It is hoped Perth Fitness Studios will open in the summer after a refurbishment. Image: Ben Finch

Ben says he has received “multiple enquiries” from a post to garner interest on Perthshire Local‘s Facebook page.

“We have to do some internal configurations so we are hoping it will be open in the summer,” he added.

Perth and Kinross Council will determine the planning application.

Do you think Perth city centre lacks fitness facilities? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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